Dress up but don’t front
Legendary hip-hop troupe the CUF treats Sac to another Halloween show
Sacramento, CA 95816
You’ve probably wasted the last six weeks deliberating and hunting down a costume for Halloween, but what you’re actually going to do on October 31 probably is still up in the air. With so many options, it would be stupid to commit to any of them prematurely.
But anyone who has been to a CUF Halloween show—which goes down each year at Midtown restaurant, bar and longstanding rock venue The Distillery, known for its stiff drinks and lunchtime spaghetti—knows what they are doing this weekend. The Sacramento hip-hop legends have been hosting Halloween shows for the past decade, each crazier than the last, which is part of the reason people keep coming back: Though contemporaries have traded their roots and style for Crunk Juice endorsements and 20-inch rims, the CUF has stayed true to its turntablist sounds and honest raps for more than 15 years.
The original CUF lineup came together in ’93, consisting of N8 the Gr8, RJ, Pete B. and DJ Mad G; Crush joined three years later. They built a local identity simply by playing a ton of gigs and getting on any bill they could. They pitched CDs to anyone who would listen. And they played with any band, pretty much regardless of genre: rock, ska, punk, metal, screamo—it’s all the same to the CUF.
And they did this by necessity. Mad G remembers how hard it used to be to get a gig in Sacramento. “They didn’t want hip-hop downtown,” Mad G explains of city officials, cops and even club owners. Playing with rock groups was the band’s only chance for downtown shows.
And eventually, the word got out that the CUF was legit. “Promoters knew we weren’t bringing gangsters, so they’d throw us on the show with all these rock groups that had never heard of us. But we put on a good enough show to where we got accepted, and that’s how we got a reputation,” Mad G says.
R.J. says the CUF has been able to win over such a diverse fan base because, he argues, they’re basically just a rock band that raps. “It’s the freedom and energy we represent. We get the crowd involved, the whole place is performing, not just us,” R.J. explains.
For Pete B., who put out a solo album last year and also was part of CUF side project Deep Fried Funk Brothers (with N8 and Mad G), people dig the group’s music because they don’t fake who they are. “People identify with us because we are just like them. We’re not these people who are like, ‘Look at our costumes and our jewelry,’” he says. “It’s not shit to get the bitches or fame.”
“We’re like the last cold beer in the fridge. That’s how it is. People wait on our CDs to come out, and when they get [it], it’s something they always depend on,” R.J. explains.
But the CUF still does something a little different for the band’s biggest night of the year, Halloween, and this year’s show is looking to be both in your face and also something familiar. Sac hardcore staple Hoods will headline.
CUF Halloween-show lore is graphic and hilarious. Ask the band, and they just start laughing about black dildos poking out of karate suits and zombie makeup melting everywhere. “As far as any stories on Halloween night, it’s so live and so much stuff happens, there’s about a million stories that go down. It’s just a wild night,” R.J. says, almost guaranteeing a good time.
The CUF won’t say who they’re dressing up as, however, but they do assure “pure craziness,” according to N8. “You’ll feel out of place if you don’t dress up, let’s just say that,” he adds.