Big Shots is a tragic album. Not because the material is bad (it's quite the opposite, actually), but because it was recorded between 1991-1993 and only saw release in 2003. Add the fact that Charizma wasn't alive to witness the release and one can see the remorse that comes with the joy of it finally appearing. The story goes that DJ Chris Cut (aka Peanut Butter Wolf) and Charizma, friends and musical partners, recorded a bunch of tracks for Hollywood Basic and that label sat on it and didn't put anything out (save for a promo cassette single), and then Charizma passed in 1993. Peanut Butter Wolf then inaugurated his Stones Throw label with the My World Premiere 12" in 1996 and planned for a release of the full-length. Though there have been little tastes here and there ("Devotion" has surfaced a couple times) due to the success of the label and its roster, it took ten years for this release to materialize. The style is very early-'90s hip-hop. Here listeners get to witness Peanut Butter Wolf's production skills totally taking off -- jazz samples and big beats slam in and out of focus in a simple yet perfected way that few producers employ today (DJ Premier comes to mind). Charizma then bops around in there with his own distinct voice that adds a warmth and innocence also missing from contemporary tracks. It's just a shame that this material didn't blow up in 1992 or 1993. Now, it's a historical document not unlike the Smithsonian Folkways releases; OK, maybe that's going too far, but it is a treasure that should be cherished by hip-hop fans the world over.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Sam Samuelson