Big Shots was the Posthumous release by Charles Hicks, otherwise known as Charizma. The Bay Area rapper was born on July 6, 1973 and met an untimely demise on December 16, 1993 at the age of 20. Although Charzima never had the opportunity to reach his full potential, his contribution to hiphop is definitely noteworthy. So in memory of the young Emcee, Here’s a smirk and a toast to his debut. Charzima would have been 43 years old.
“He’s the Pusha, the dope Deala, rollin’ with many skins, and he didn’t have too many fr-friends…”
Peanut Butter Wolf, founder of indie powerhouse Stones Throws Records, produced while Charizma delivered the verses. If one were to categorize Charizma as a rhymer on this LP, he would be considered a storyteller for most of the ride. On “Jack The Mack” and “Raquel,” two different stories are told, but share a common thread. “Jack The Mack” warn listeners about the dangers associated with unprotected sex, and the dope game. Towards the end of the troublesome tale, Raquel breaks the news to dope dealing Jack that she has AIDS, and that he now has the disease also. The story wraps up with an afterthought in regards to Jack’s predicament “you shoulda known to wear a jimmy-jimmy hat.” Charizma takes the first person seat on “Raquel” to reintroduce the character of Raquel who, we learn after hearing both tracks, is using sex as a weapon as she passes along the AIDS virus to unsuspecting men.
“Red Means stop, and green light means go…”
Apple juice is his fuel and Tims are the only approved footwear on Charizma’s playground where childhood pastimes get a hip-hop makeover. On “Red Light Green Light” Charizma opens with “tic, tack, toe yo, uh-here we go, red means stop and green light means go…” while PB drops a boom bap beat and adds a child like flute melody in the mix. “Ice Cream Truck” uses the same formula, but with a deeper message (Charizma is all over the place here). The hook makes the anticipation of hearing and seeing the ice cream truck approach on a hot day swagged out “here comes the ice cream truck, uh wiggy, wow-wow, here comes the ice cream truck…” (kind of like that episode on The Fresh Prince of Bel-air when Will had to graduate with a group of elementary school kids, and he turned “My Little Sunshine” into a funky James Brown jam). Charzima goes into touching on the ills of society then adds towards the end “I’m not down wit’ cat in the hat, I’m down wit’ cat in the hat…” That’s part of his genius, knowing how to dig deep with a playful delivery.
“I’m just a normal kid who walked to school everyday, and wrote letters to the girls from Denise to Shaunte…”
Still in the storytelling mode, the ladies man emerges and the scares of a broken heart are revealed when Chraizma drops rhymes on “Fairweathered Friend” and “Devotion 92’.” He’s never the untouchable mack that most rappers gloat about, for example, “Fairweathered Friends” tells the story of a love interest who is seeking to take advantage of the emcee. She takes what she can get then she leaves; Charizma tries to heal his wounds with his own poetry “snap, where’s the girl at I chill wit’? Don’t wanna devour my thoughts, yeah wit’ her I’m real wit, some things go, some things I set free, if she doesn’t come back then it wasn’t meant to be, it’s that easy…” Another motif embedded in his flow is his constant consideration of consequences associated with life choices. “Devotion 92’” is a playa’s theme, or so it seems at some points, then as the story unravels all the games he played come full circle “all this chaos from the girls I hurt…”
There are many tracks recorded from 1990 – 1993 that didn’t make the album, and are loaded on a bonus EP that was released in 2004. Many of which contain the same ingredients as tracks that made the album. This is definitely a hidden gem of the golden era of hip-hop, and also helped to birth the founding of Stones Throws Records which is now an underground top authority.