Hate it or love it, by now the refrain is probably stuck in your head: “Inside peanut butter, outside jelly/Seven days of the week, seven different Chevies.” Cadillac Don & J-Money’s ode to the leather interior and candy-coated exterior of a signature Southern donk is hypnotic in its simplicity. “If you think about the majority of the world, most people are uneducated,” says Donald Sharp, a.k.a. Cadillac Don. “If I say a word that a little kid don’t know, how they gonna like my music?”
Although accessible, the ominous piano chord that propels “Peanut Butter & Jelly” makes it an unusual radio favorite. Equally unique is the path the song’s 28-year-old narrators traveled to reach their current success. Growing up in tiny Crawford, Miss. (pop. 634), the two friends first found fame playing baseball at Mississippi Valley State University.
An injury claimed J-Money’s pitching arm, and Cadillac’s stint as a first baseman for the independent Tennessee T’s ended in 2001 when he started teaching art at his high school alma mater. During his two-year tenure, Don’s desire to pen bars started to take over. “He was writing [rhymes] in class when he was supposed to been teaching them kids,” teases J-Money, born Tiyon Rogers.
Recording with the help of local producer Big Fruit, Cadillac and J-Money decided to officially form a group in 2004. A year later, they scored their first hit when “Peanut Butter & Jelly” began spinning on WJMI in Jackson. The track eventually spread all the way across the U.S. to KIKI FM in Honolulu.
Asylum Records is now capitalizing on that sweet success via the duo’s upcoming debut LP, Look at Me. “It’s kinda like Biggie say, ‘Ashy to classy,’” explains Cadillac of the disc’s title. While his sentiment is somewhat empowering, the album is more about going dumb than getting ahead. “We trying to make these people dance,” Cadillac says unapologetically. “That’s what they wanna do.”
While the local feel of their tracks may be steeped in current Southern trends, Cadillac and J promise they have a little something for everybody: “What I would like to say to the fans up north is before they judge it, give it a chance,” says J-Money. “Just listen to it.”
Read the rest of this month’s Show & Prove picks in XXL’s
December 2006 issue (#87)