When The Defiant Ones aired on Sunday (July 9), viewers of the four-episode docu-series about the lives of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine were privy to an inside look at the DNA of Ruthless Records. From the synthesis of N.W.A to the fallout with Ice Cube, episode two went into meticulous detail about everything going on during the label’s ascent — including the making of JJ Fad.
As the first female rap group signed to Ruthless Records, JJ Fad — MC J.B., Sassy C and Baby D — was a huge part of the imprint’s narrative, but were completely left out of the 2015 N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton. In fact, they were never even asked to participate.
“We were all a family and I felt slighted,” Sassy C tells HipHopDX. “We have been left out of a lot of things in regards to the role we played — whether it’s been Ruthless Records or our contribution to rap as a whole.”
“We were a big part of the Ruthless family,” Baby D adds. “Even when they did Straight Outta Compton and snubbed us, if they would have actually just told the truth in that movie, we would have been ecstatic. I don’t get how they could skip over that part. That was hurtful. I was more hurt than anything, especially when friends and family were asking us what happened. You deal with it, but it really hurt us.”
What many people don’t realize is without JJ Fad’s Platinum-selling debut album, 1988’s Supersonic, Ruthless wouldn’t have had the funding to drop N.W.A’s seminal project, Straight Outta Compton, which was released later that same year.
“I was pissed [about the biopic],” J.B. admits. “Only because you can’t tell that story without mentioning us. Without us, there wouldn’t have been an N.W.A album. I mean, there might have been one, but it might not have come out that soon without the funding. Eric [Eazy-E] wanted a legitimate label, so he legitimized it by putting out our album first. That made it easier.”
So when Dre credited JJ Fad with paving the way for Ruthless’ eventual success during a segment in the The Defiant Ones, the three MCs heaved a collective sigh of relief. Finally, they thought, he told the full story.
“I was elated, relieved and excited that the world was going to finally hear the truth from someone as influential as Dr. Dre,” Sassy explains. “And also that he hadn’t forgotten.”
“When I walked in [the house], my daughter was watching it and I had no idea we were on there like that,” D says. “I was super excited, but the most important thing is we weren’t forgotten. Dre actually mentioned us and showed the truth.”
“It was great because it was right out of his mouth,” J.B. adds. “That made a huge impact on us.”
Old studio footage of JJ Fad used in the episode showed them recording their verses for the classic Hip Hop track “Supersonic” and hanging out with pivotal players like Eazy-E, Arabian Prince, The D.O.C. and, of course, Dre. There’s even a scene where Eazy can’t get his verse right for the track “Radio,” which ultimately needed seemingly endless takes to finalize.
“[The video footage] absolutely, positively took me right back like it was 25 years ago,” D admits. “In the first episode, I’m standing behind Eazy and he couldn’t get his words down. If you look at my face, I’m thinking, ‘This boy. He can’t get it for nothing [laughs].’ Like, ‘Take 86, take 3,000.’ It took a long time. We were just cracking up.”
J.B. also confesses a couple of them were dating at the time, but D knows better and jokes,”I was a minor. I don’t know nothing. I plead the 5th. I’ll get somebody thrown in jail. They finding stuff on Bill Cosby from 87 years ago [laughs].”
While Dre’s mention and footage of JJ Fad is a step in the right direction, they believe there’s still a long way to go.
“I wouldn’t say we were vindicated, but we’re definitely on the path to healing,” Sassy says. “We have not been acknowledged by our own community. BET has hosted numerous shows paying homage to female rappers and black women in general. We have not been recognized, nor have we even been extended an invitation to attend when we were the first female group nominated for a Grammy. We were also one of the first rap groups to go Platinum.”
It’s clear there’s more to story, but the ladies are holding out for a biopic of their own to hopefully fill in the blanks one day. For now, there’s a sense they’re simply happy to be a part of Hip Hop history.
“When we were in it that long ago, we didn’t realize what a blessing it was to be in that space right then and right there,” J.B. says. “We were having so much fun and we were so young, but when you get older and look back at the pivotal time and role we played at Ruthless, it makes you think like, ‘Wow, we didn’t realize we were that important at that time.’ We do now.”
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that JJ Fad was the only female group ever signed to Ruthless Records. There was also H.W.A. and Menajahtwa.