South Bay’s Big Runts got start on Animal Planet’s Pit Boss
South Bay hip hop duo Big Runts is no gimmick
by Donald Morrison
In the opener to South Bay hip hop group Big Runts 2018 album, Underestimated Overachievers, it’s clear that members Cris G and Bulldogg know exactly what they want to say — and how they want to say it.
“We are Big Runts. The last ones to be picked, the ones you stare at, the doubted, the hated, the ones who rose up, who did it their way, the ones who love to be different, the ones who are here to succeed.”
It’s a worthy rallying call for the Carson-based artists who’ve built a steady following since 2016 by releasing two albums of mostly self-produced music that gleefully champions the outcast spirit that comes with adversity.
Cris G and Bulldogg are talented musicians and natural showmen, having met as supporting cast members on Animal Planet’s original series, Pit Boss, which aired from 2010 to 2013. The show centered around Shorty Rossi, a little person who served nearly 10 years in Folsom prison before turning his life around and founding Shorty’s Rescue, a pit bull rescue organization.
Bulldogg, who’s real name is Steven Marroquin, was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. He moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to be on Pit Boss, staying for a time on Shorty’s couch before finding a place of his own.
“I didn’t know if I was coming down here for three weeks, three months or three years,” Bulldogg said. “But I had to take that chance. I wasn’t really doing anything in Boston.”
Bulldog has a studio in Inglewood where he’s turned a small utility closet into a makeshift recording booth. It’s also where Cris G produces a majority of the beats for their music.
Christain Garcia, who performs under the name Cris G, was born and raised in Carson. Aside from being one half of Big Runts, Cris G also hosts a successful Youtube channel with his wife and daughter called Thee Garcia Family. Their videos give viewers an inside look into their family and act as a vehicle for Cris G to show off his charisma as an entertainer.
“You could record a video, throw it online and be famous the next day,” Cris G said. “There’s a video of me pushing a grocery cart where it looks like it’s moving on its own until I stick my head out. That got 2.8 million views.”
Together, Big Runts showcase a natural chemistry born out of close friendship and a passion for performing. Before the pandemic began closing venues across Southern California last March, Big Runts was regularly booking shows and appearances at dispensaries and pop up shops around LA. They’re a group best witnessed live.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 people or a thousand people in the audience,” Bulldogg said. “We’re performing as if there are a million people and we’re inviting them on stage because we want them to feel the energy we’re bringing.”
Big Runts music is heavily influenced by the sounds of west coast hip hop; it’s hedonistic and brash, but never in bad taste. The carefree spirit found on their 2018 debut, Underestimated Overachievers, will likely rub off on listeners who make it through all 10 tracks.
The centerpiece of the album is “Broke No More,” a money-making anthem featuring some of Cris G’s best production to date. On the track, the artists cleverly invoke all the stuff they’d buy if money wasn’t an issue, with a poet’s eye for ironic detail.
“I want a big-ass house with some marble floors, a couple cars just laying outside my door.” – Cris G on “Broke No More” off 2018’s Overestimated Underachievers.
Their hedonism can easily transcend into empowerment when you consider the odds both Bulldogg and Cris G have beaten. But Big Runts never acknowledge their vulnerability in a way that feels cheap or manipulative. Their swagger comes off as effortless; with their height becoming more of a superpower than a stumbling block.
Big Runts released their latest single, “Been Underestimated,” in December, with production being handled by LA producer and friend, K5ivedawriter. The beat offers a rare detour away from contemporary sounds and allows the artists to flex their lyrical ability over production that would fit nicely on a 90s rap playlist.
The writing even feels more autobiographical, with Bulldogg opening his verse with rhymes about his grandmother and getting faded with his cousin Skeeter. Big Runts succeed most when they are able to universalize their particular experience. It’s a tightrope act that most artists aren’t able to balance without coming off as corny or desperate.
Big Runts inability to pander to wider audiences is what makes their music stand out. They’ve perfected an artful way of addressing any perceived gimmickry in relation to their size, while also doubling as a celebration of novelty — a rare sentiment in a genre saturated with lookalikes and wannabes. ER
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