Born Charles Hicks, the MC who would later be known as Charizma was raised in Milpitas, CA, a small suburb north of San Jose. Influenced by golden age hip-hoppers like MC Shan, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, and Biz Markie, he began rapping at age 14, soon competing in high-school talent shows. In 1989, when Hicks was 15, he was introduced to the older Chris Ganak, who was then going by Cut Chris (and later, Peanut Butter Wolf) and making a name for himself as one of the innovators and mainstays on the budding San Jose hip-hop scene. The two clicked instantly, and within a few years Ganak had dropped his work with his other projects in order to focus all his energy on Hicks, who was then calling himself Charlie C. Ganak and Hicks spent all of their time recording songs on four-tracks and handing them out to local radio stations and at shows, and their efforts paid off when a DJ at a San Jose radio station heard one of their tracks and asked to manage them.
They accepted, and after a few offers, Charizma and Peanut Butter Wolf, as they were then known, eventually signed to Hollywood Basics, the home of Organized Konfusion. Although Charizma and Wolf thought they would get full artistic control, after a year of writing more than an album's worth of songs, they realized the label had other plans for them; they ended up only putting out the cassette promo single "Red Light Green Light" in 1993 before the deal fell through and the pair left with their unreleased record, Big Shots, in hand. Tragically, before they could shop the album to other labels, Charizma was shot and killed in a rough neighborhood of East Palo Alto, CA, in what appeared to be a botched robbery attempt. Peanut Butter Wolf, distressed by the death of his musical partner and friend, decided to refocus his music ambitions on promoting the talents of others, and in 1996 he started the label Stones Throw, whose first release was a 12" of Charizma's My World Premiere. Big Shots finally saw the light of day when Stones Throw issued it in 2003. ~ Marisa Brown