First joining forces in 1989, The Beatnuts originally were a Queens-bred trio comprised of members JuJu (Jerry Tineo), Psycho Les (Lester Fernandez) and Kool Fashion (Berntony Smalls). In the early ‘90s, they mainly focused on DJing and beatmaking, as well as lent their talents to remix the likes of Cypress Hill, MC Lyte, and Naughty by Nature. Early on in their careers, hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa introduced the group to Native Tongues members De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and the Jungle Brothers. The Beatnuts became the only Latino affiliates of the Native Tongues collective. After garnering buzz for their work behind the boards and with the help of top-tier cosigns, the group scored a deal of their own with Combat Records. In 1993, their debut project Intoxicated Demons: The EP arrived, following a delay due to Kool Fashion six-month prison stint for drug charges. The group released their LP The Beatnuts: Street Level, via Relativity Records a year later. The project was their first and last LP as a trio, with Kool Fashion leaving the group to pursue a solo career under the moniker Al’ Tariq.
The Beatnuts continued to build their discography as a duo, going on to release their sophomore album, Stone Crazy, in 1997. Two years later, their third album A Musical Massacre became the Beatnuts’ most commercially and critically successful album to date. With the hit single “Watch Out Now” helping the album to climb to No. 35 on the Billboard 200, the group received praise for balancing rough, raunchy lyrics with layered, eclectic production. After the release of their 2001 album, Take It or Squeeze It—as well as the release of two greatest hits albums (2001’s Beatnuts Forever and 2002’s Classic Nuts, Vol. 1—the group parted ways with their longtime father imprint, Relativity Records. The Beatnuts then signed to underground label LandSpeed Records, releasing The Originators that same year.
Their 2004 album, Milk Me, was released through Penalty Recordings and included a track, “Confused Rappers,” dissing Jennifer Lopez for stealing the beat from “Watch out Now” for her 2002 smash single “Jenny From the Block.” The Beatnuts eventually received royalties for the song and agreed to end the feud with Lopez’s producers (The Trackmasters and Cory Rooney). In 2009, the Beatnuts starred in a 3-night performance run of a semi-autobiographical theater production, Deez Nuts, produced by journalist Sacha Jenkins and took place at the Ohio Theatre as part of the New York Hip-Hop Festival. In 2011, the Beatnuts linked with the Alkaholiks to release a collaborative EP titled Liknuts. In recent years, the Beatnuts have actively toured, with their seventh studio LP, Planet of the Crates, still anticipating a release.