For a number of reasons, it's probably best to describe Turquoise Jeep as a brand rather than a band. Not only does the collective—made up of Flynt Flossy, Yung Humma, Pretty Raheem and Whatchyamacallit, among other part-time collaborators—operate its own independent record label (appropriately called Turquoise Jeep Records), but the group soon plans to roll out a clothing line and a DVD series instructing viewers on how to breakdance properly. It's hardly what you'd expect to find on your average touring act's merch table.
The group's back story seems purposefully vague: The four members were working various jobs in music and video production and stumbled upon each other's work. Raheem puts the group's origin story rather plainly. "We were all in the industry, in some form or fashion. Our paths kept crossing, we formed Turquoise Jeep and we've been ridin' ever since."
In 2010, Turquoise Jeep went viral with the catchy and ridiculous novelty hip hop hit "Lemme Smang It," a song credited to Yung Humma featuring Flynt Flossy. At the time of this writing, the video for "Smang It" has nearly 12 million hits on YouTube—no small feat, even in an industry now dominated by the Internet. Although the group owes much of its credit to the Internet's ability to circulate content widely at fast speeds, members say that they would have found a way to exist and persist without new media.
"YouTube was just one of those avenues that worked out for us," notes Humma. "Even if YouTube wasn't around, Turquoise Jeep still would have come to be."
When asked if he feels any anxiety about being called a novelty act, given that all of Turquoise Jeep's songs feature over-the-top sexual innuendo ("Not Your Professor But Your Prosexxor," "Naughty Farmer" and "Sex Syrup" are just a few titillating titles), Flossy is quick to dismiss any claim that Turquoise Jeep is a joke.
"Audiences sometimes don't know how to accept things that are different," he says. "Some people might not understand the art. But the people that get it? They appreciate it." According to Flossy, scantily clad women in the videos for tunes like "Treat Me Like a Pirate (and Show Me that Booty)" aside, Turquoise Jeep means business.
"We got that itch," says Flossy, referring to the group's entrepreneurial spirit. "Everybody has their own path. We're so talented and diverse that the point of Turquoise Jeep is creative expression. If Humma wants to come out with his own soda pop tomorrow, I'd say, 'Let's do it'."
A collaboration with Childish Gambino (also known as Donald Glover, the actor and Georgia native who plays Troy on the NBC comedy "Community"), "Fuck Your Blog," only increased the cultural purchase of Turquoise Jeep. "It was a surprise experience," says Whatchyamacallit. We met [Glover] at Fun Fun Fun Fest, and he sent us the track, and we were able to do it real fast. It brought a lot of attention to us, because people said, 'Wow, these guys can hold their own.'"
Like any YouTube sensation, Turquoise Jeep draws a predominantly college-aged crowd to its live performances, but the group emphasizes that the term is much broader than the 18–22 demographic. "We definitely have a 'college crowd,' but that doesn't really explain it," says Whatchyamacallit. "We bring in faculty members, administrators, people you don't expect to be in attendance."
And the group finds that crowds have a positive response no matter the location. "In my opinion, everywhere we go, there's an equal amount of love," says Humma. "I can't say that there's a place that is particularly different." Flossy adds. "One thing that I've witnessed is that 60-year-olds, 50-year-olds come to our shows. We have a range that we sometimes don't give ourselves credit for." Whatchyamacallit notes that he also sees many people from what he calls "the cubicle nation—people that sit at a computer all day"—in the group's crowds.
Since the members of Turquoise Jeep now reside all over the country, collaborating with one another is more difficult—but it certainly isn't impossible. It "really depend[s] on the situation," says Flossy, who notes that he texts other members lyrics when they are apart and makes time to write and direct if someone happens to be around. And they still find time to tour regularly; this Friday's 40 Watt show will mark the second time in as many years that the group will have hit Athens.
"It's dope to be working together. It ain't no fun if you can't share the experience," says Flossy. "Instead of you being a one-man show, it's a family," adds Humma. "We are here to help each other out." Whatever comes of the group's many endeavors, one thing is for sure: Turquoise Jeep will keep riding.
WHO: Turquoise Jeep, Yip Deceiver, Kosha Dillz
WHERE: New Earth Athens
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 7, 8 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $16