Fatty Koo: Overnight Celebrities

Blowing up is one thing, staying up is another. Some of the most talented blends of street and R&B have been susceptible to the ills of the music industry. Mismanagement of all levels has caused the demise of many a group, and the industry graveyard continues to grow.

Enter Fatty Koo, a group of young, yet audacious Buckeyes vying for top spots on the music charts and our iPods. And as many artists wear like badges the years of struggle and hardship it took for them to become well known, members of Fatty Koo know their success has come rather quickly. The industry has been abuzz about the super group, all under 21, whose mix of Hip-Hop, pop and instrumentation is being called the best thing since the Beatles.

Fans may wonder if the idea of Fatty Koo sounds too good to be true… Is the reality TV audience still chaffed by the failed formulation of Da Band? Still wishing that Ruben Studdard will do that dirty-south banger and lose the teddy bear image? AllHipHop.com Alternatives caught up with the group as they vacationed in Miami, anticipating a summer filled with tours, an album release and lot of lessons about the music business.

The group hails from Columbus, Ohio and was discovered making music as the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus rolled through the Buckeye State. Within three months, Eddie B, 20, Gabrielle, 17, Marya, 18, Ron, 20 and Valure, 20 were jetting between New York and Columbus, recording one of the most talked about CDs of the year, called House of Fatty Koo. “Things have happen with this group that has never happened in history. And you know how people say stuff happened over night? Well that how it was with us,” says producer/singer Ron Riley.

The group’s single “Bounce” was chosen as the anthem for TNT’s NBA playoffs this year, but after seeing the first couple shows in their series Blowing Up: Fatty Koo, which chronicles their first live performances, flubbed studio sessions and failures at choreography, one may wonder is all the buzz is about. “What you are seeing now is from two, three years ago,” says Ron. “We’re well established now.”

Unlike many reality shows, where manufacturing a group is mainly keeping them from fighting, some of the perils Fatty Koo faces are the impatience of their management.

“We’ve learned the ins and outs of the business and the ups and downs of management,” Ron explains. “Our management is good people, but they’re not used to developing somebody.”

With names like The Fugees and The Black Eyed Peas, DAS Management has established its niche in genre-bending, urban, eclectic music. But Riley says that though the group is talented, each writing and producing the entire album, that DAS was expecting miracles. “When we first got signed, we wrote and produced the whole album, but they (DAS) hardly called us. We were sitting by the phone like Charlie’s Angels just waiting for an assignment,” he explains. “Everything is good now, but there are people you can’t trust and they put you in uncomfortable positions - but that brings the best out of me. I’m a fish and there are a lot of sharks around.”

Riley, who put the album together using just a laptop Mac computer, two keyboards and Logic Pro 7, expresses confidence in the music. “Our sound is like nothing else, it’s a fusion of everything.” The group is like an industry hit squad all in one: Valure is the soul singer reminiscent of early Lauryn, Gabrielle is the smoldering pop/rock princess, Eddie B is the prolific writer/singer, Ron Riley is the hot producer, and Marya is an element of surprise - a Venezuelan cellist with all the hip hop of violinist Miri Ben-Ari. “Because of our individual sounds, the group is more unique,” says Riley. “And everybody can write.”

The group is opening for label mates Black Eyed Peas and Talib Kweli the first half of the summer. At the end of the summer, they will perform with Common, Faith Evans and Brian McKnight. With these appearances, audiences will be able to gauge better whether all of those choreography and vocal lessons stuck.

“We all came together and have chemistry. We became a family,” Riley says. “[In the beginning] we didn’t know what to do. But now that we’ve had a hand in the business, we’ve had more coaching, and we know what to do at a show.”

Donna Marbury is a freelance entertainment writer based in Columbus, Ohio.

She can be reached at donnamarbury@hotmail.com