“Lyrics coming at you at supersonic speed, J.J. Fad,” raps Eminem on “Rap God,” right before unleashing one of his fastest and most unhinged verses ever, but when Juana Sperling first heard the track she was not impressed. Sperling—also known as MC J.B. of J.J. Fad, the California rap group behind the 1988 Billboard chart-topping hit “Supersonic”—was provided with an early preview of the track by Eminem’s management about a week before its release, but there was one problem: She couldn’t quite hear it over the phone static.
“When I first heard it over the phone I was like, ‘This is kinda weird,’” says Sperling in an interview with XXL. “Maybe three days later, it was released as a single and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! This is fire!’ It was so good, but when they played it on the phone I was not a fan.”
Sperling has certainly warmed up to the song now, as anyone who follows the group’s very active Twitter can attest. For the last few weeks Sperling, who controls the account, has been retweeting positive mentions of the song from fans, many of whom were obviously impressed and entertained by Em’s shout-out to the group. “I really wanna stress how big of an honor it is to be on that record that Eminem did,” she says. “We’re just so honored and thrilled that he chose us to do that.”
Though Sperling was told by Eminem’s management that he’s a big fan of the group, the song itself isn’t the group’s only tangential connection to the Detroit superstar: They’ve shared a producer too. “Supersonic” and the group’s 1988 debut, also named Supersonic, were both produced by the legendary Dr. Dre. In fact, the record’s production was overseen by Dre, DJ Yella and Arabian Prince, and released on Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records. Spurred by the success of the “Supersonic” single, which peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard dance chart and was nominated for a Grammy in 1989, the album eventually went platinum.
Though Dre and Sperling are no longer in touch, she has nothing but positive things to say about her time working with Dre and the rest of N.W.A. “Ruthless was in the beginning stages and it was such a family,” she explains. “There was such a tight connection between all of us that it was absolutely a joy. We had the most fun in the studio. We’d be in there for hours and hours on end just cracking up and having the best time ever. It was more like being with your family than a working relationship. We were all really, really close.”
Despite that proximity, she’s not sure if Dre had any hand in making the “Rap God” shout-out happen or if Eminem’s J.J. Fad fandom was the sole reason for the reference. Either way, the group is looking to capitalize off the renewed interest that comes with being name-checked on a hit song from one of the biggest rappers on the planet. She says the group is always looking to play shows and the “Supersonic” video keeps gaining YouTube views, with many fans leaving comments about the Eminem track.
After the song was released, Sperling says she was hoping Eminem might reach out to them to make a cameo in the “Rap God” video, but she never heard from his management and the clip is scheduled to drop soon. Even if they’re not in the video, she’s still psyched about the buzz from the “Rap God” shout-out. There’s still one important question: Has she learned Eminem’s rapid fire verse yet? “Yeah, I’m trying my hardest to learn it,” she laughs. “I’ve been practicing and trying to get it. I’m almost there.”