Still as nasty as they wanna be
Depending on your own take on the colorful and chaotic history of hip-hop, the dirty-mouthed crew that was and still is 2 Live Crew will be remembered as either a) a fun-filled posse looking to push the envelope with booty-centric rhymes or b) a mediocre collection of rappers who somehow ended up being the poster children for the free-speech-in-music movement of the late-’80s.
Whatever the case, a slimmed down version of the very same rapping ensemble makes its way back to 8150 tonight.
Those who know their music history will remember 2 Live Crew as the group that helped prompt the recording industry to start sticking those stupid parental warning stickers on CDs with potentially objectionable content.
In 2 Live’s case, it was probably an appropriate move – the band built its reputation on material that would make Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx or even “Raw”-era Eddie Murphy collectively blush.
And with titles that are mostly unfit for a family newspaper, culled from albums like “As Nasty as They Wanna’ Be” and its follow-up, “Sports Weekend (As Nasty as They Wanna’ Be Part II),” the Crew’s material became the perfect focus for groups such as Tipper Gore’s Parents Music Resource Center.
Add to that the fact that the group’s shows still combine a mixture of scantily-clad dancers, body shots and strip club behavior and … well, you get the idea. Be prepared for both the best and the worst.
2 Live Crew got its start in California in 1985 and relocated to Miami, where members Fresh Kid Ice (Chris Wong Won), DJ Mr. Mixx (David Hobbs) and Brother Marquis (Mark Ross) hooked up with record producer Luther Campbell. The band’s first brush with the courtroom followed in a flash when Campbell was sued by none other than George Lucas (the suit prompted changing his label name from Luke Skyywalker Records to Luke Records).
On record, the group made it perfectly clear that it wanted little more than to be known as an underground adult party band – fans will remember the “Full Metal Jacket”-derived sample found on their hit single, “Me So Horny.”
But the Crew instead became a household name when Gore’s group and Florida born-again Christian attorney Jack Thompson suggested that 2 Live Crew’s album was obscene and should not be available for purchase by minors.
2 Live Crew made headlines when a Florida record store owner was arrested for selling a copy of the disc (to an adult, no less); the band itself was arrested for performing the material from “As Nasty as They Wanna’ Be” in a strip club in Miami.
The resulting hubbub created some very odd bedfellows as artists such as Sinead O’Connor, Bruce Springsteen and Motley Crue came to the band’s defense. 2 Live Crew also became the first act to release both “clean” and “dirty” versions of its own recordings, as well as voluntarily labeling its CDs for adult content. The group officially disbanded in 1992, following battles between Campbell, Mixx and Brother Marquis.
Campbell was in court again in 1994 as he fought Acuff-Rose Music (which had sued the band over its 1989 parody of Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman”). A Nashville court initially ruled against the band, but Campbell appealed and the Supreme Court eventually sided with him.
Campbell reunited the band in 1994 as the New 2 Live Crew for a single CD, but filed for bankruptcy a year later.
Tonight’s version of 2 Live Crew features Mixx and Marquis, who’ve kept the band alive on the oldies hip-hop circuit since their 1998 album “The Real One” (which featured guest appearances from Ice-T, Freak Nasty and Miami music legend K.C. of K.C. and the Sunshine Band).
2 Live Crew plays at 8150 tonight at 10 p.m. Call 479-0607 for tickets and details