The Beatnuts are a New York-based hip hop group and production duo from Queens, New York City. Its current members are JuJu and Psycho Les. JuJu (born Jerry Tineo on December 4, 1972) is Dominican American from Corona and Psycho Les (born Lester Fernandez on April 10, 1972) is a Colombian American from Jackson Heights. The Beatnuts are the only Latino members of the Native Tongues collective. Although only peripheral members, they are routinely acknowledged by Q-Tip. The Beatnuts were originally a trio before Fashion, now known as Al’ Tariq, left the group to start a solo career. V.I.C. (Groove Merchantz, Ghetto Pros) was also a member of The Beatnuts’ production team for a while.
The Beatnuts entered the recording industry in 1990 producing two tracks for the British alternative hip hop/electronica group Stereo MCs as well as a song for British rapper Monie Love. Over the next two years, they produced songs for rappers including Common, Pete Nice & DJ Richie Rich and Kurious, as well as a full album for Chi-Ali. As of 1992, JuJu had not appeared on a record, but fellow Beatnuts rappers Fashion and Psycho Les appeared on tracks that he produced. In 1993, The Beatnuts produced more songs for the artists they had previously collaborated with as well as Fat Joe, Suprême NTM and Da Youngsta’s. At the same time, The Beatnuts made their name as remix specialists by remixing songs for MC Lyte, Da Lench Mob, Naughty by Nature, Jomanda and others.
The Beatnuts are known for their sample-heavy beats and explicit party-ready lyrics. In early records, the beats had a jazz and funk-influenced sound, but later songs were influenced by Latin music. Critics have commented that The Beatnuts have consistently good beats, but lack in terms of lyrics. JuJu addressed this in a 2004 interview:
“ We are all about the beat, that’s our formula when we produce shit, the beats gotta be hot, it’s gotta grab you. ‘Cause I’ll be the first nigga to say that we’re not the best MCs in the world. It kills me to hear these nice MCs rhyming over fucking garbage. ”
Their production is noted as some of the most accomplished, if unheralded, in all of hip hop, often intricately detailed (as in their finely honed work for Mos Def on two tracks from Black on Both Sides) but more regularly barnstorming, club-friendly, flourish-laden party music.
The Beatnuts are noted for being unabashedly, bullishly ribald and in-your-face performers. Recent Beatnuts albums are characterized by more Latin influences.