Let’s talk about one of the most unintentionally funny album names ever.
As much as I wanted to like J.J. Fad’s debut album “Supersonic,” it had little going for it other than its titular single. It seems like the group was aware of that when they released the follow up “Not Just a Fad” in 1990. Playing off their name while simultaneously hoping to cash in on their pop culture fame, the group attempted to come back with a title song that was just as much of a “fad” — the brief rise of Afrocentric/”Edutainment” rap around the same time. Oddly given the song’s topic matter there’s a thinly veiled diss directed at KRS-One and “You Must Learn” in the second verse. To this day I still don’t know why.
That’s just one of many strange things about this album though. The album was allegedly supposed to be produced by Dr. Dre, but they got tired of waiting for him to get around to it and enlisted DJ Yella to take over. (Perhaps King Tee should have taken notes.) Despite claiming to be more than a passing fad, every song seems orchestrated to cash in on something that was trending at the time. It’s almost silly to have a house song called “We’re in the House” on a record, but they were far from the only ones to do it. Personally I prefer the rap songs that playfully mocked or parodied this trend, like De La Soul’s “Kicked Out the House.”
“Not Just a Fad” is nothing BUT fads. You want 2 Live Crew meets Salt-N-Pepa? Then you want to “Work It.” You want to hear a M.C. Hammer style shout out to God? “We’d Like to Thank” is there for you. Need an uptempo club song to show off your moves? “Step.” They even tell you in the song to “get on the dance floor” and obey the beat. If you want to prove to someone that disco never really died, just tell them that this song came out in 1990.
“This is what the Fad was supposed to do/we made another party jam just for you.” Okay. I accept that premise. I don’t even hate the song. It’s incredible generic and creatively bankrupt, but when Cube quipped “hey Yella, stick to producing” he wasn’t wrong. He’s perfectly competent at being the Dr. Dre substitute here, shepherding J.J. Fad through one style after another, and undoubtedly he thought that if they threw enough of them at the wall one would eventually sick. The D.O.C. penned “Gold” was as close as they got.
“The F-the-A-the-D is set to go/so yo, on with the next dumb ho.” This song has the attitude that the rest of the album lacks and that has to be credited entirely to their ghostwriter. On the other hand lines like “this is a Fad, at the same time, no it ain’t” only serve as a reminder that their 15 minutes of fame was long since up. If you’re going back to listen to “Not Just a Fad” you can start and stop with “Gold” and the title track. That’s it. The rest of the album is generic 1990’s rap that never aspires to stand out from the pack.