Oran “Juice” Jones: ‘In The Rain’ 30 Years Later
During the 1980s music was all over the place. Hip-hop was just making a name for itself and R&B music had a bunch of different flavors from slow jams to synthesized tunes. But one artist made a name for himself doing something different: Oran “Juice” Jones and his smash 1986 hit, “The Rain.”
The Houston native graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1981 and was the second African-American Brigade Commander in Naval Academy history. He served as a sniper officer (yes a sniper!) in the United States Marine Corps until 1986, when the music industry came calling.
OJ was the first artist signed to OBR Records, a subsidiary of the renowned Def Jam label. This also made him the very first R&B artist on the hip-hop record label. While that doesn’t seem like a big deal today, back then, rap and R&B were two totally separate entities. In fact, it was practically an insult to associate a rap artist with anything remotely resembling R&B. The soothing sounds of R&B clashed with hip hop’s rebellious edge. Jones’s signing with Def Jam’s OBR subsidiary signaled a partnership between the two genres that continued as of early December 2016.
“Curiosity” and “You Can’t Hide From Love” didn’t do as well on the charts but “The Rain” made up for all of that. It was one of those rare anthems that the divas and the d-boys both could relate to. Plus, the video has some of the best one liners ever:
“Close your mouth cuz you COLD BUSTED.”
“What were you tryin’ to prove, huh? You’s with the Juice!”
“My first impulse was to run up on you and do a Rambo, whip out the jammy and flat-blast both of you but I ain’t wanna mess up this thirty-seven hundred dollar lynx coat.”
The inspiration behind “The Rain” actually came from real experiences.
“At the time, I saw a lot of my friends were going through some things,” explains Jones. “You know, there’s the female companions. You know, they would always want to get violent and get gorilla with it and I wanted to keep it pimpin.’ There’s no reason….it didn’t start that way, so it shouldn’t end up that way. You know what I’m saying? We just break bread. You go your way. I go my way. And it’s all love. You know what I’m saying? You know, give me back what I bought you. *Laughter* You know, and keep it moving. You know, but it’s all good. At the time, it was a little flip. I wanted to do something that was a little different from the norm. You know what I’m saying? Because I’m not a violent cat.”
Don’t think that for a second that the whole “pimping” image of Oran “Juice” Jones is just an image. It’s truly in his blood.
“I was born in Texas, but, you know, Daddy couldn’t get that pimpin’ out of his system.,” continues Jones. “So, Mom said, you know, ‘We need to break North.’ And I got up there and little did she know, I was gong to get more poisons up there, but that’s another story, you know. But, it’s been a wild ride. You know, I wrote a song for Kurtis Blow years ago called, ‘Daydreaming.’”
“Kurtis and I go way back and he was rapping, you know, doing his thing. You know, ‘cause he wanted to sing and I said, ‘Well, let me put something together for you.’ So, I put, ‘Daydreaming’ together and it did quite well for him. But, when them checks came back, you know, I ain’t get my end. My end wasn’t straight. You know what I’m saying? My money was funny. You know what I’m saying? So, I’m like I might as well do this myself. So Russell was like, “My man, if you’re that upset about it, why don’t you just make your own record?” So I said, “Okay. That’s cool. We could do that too.” You know, so then…