2 Live Crew
2 Live Crew performing at Exxxotica NY in 2009
|Origin||Riverside, California, U.S.|
|Genres||Miami bass, dirty rap|
|Labels||Fresh Beat / Macola Records|
Lil Joe Records
|Ice-T, Luniz, Numskull, Yukmouth, Flavor Flav, Chilly Chill, Mannie Fresh, Professor Griff, Trina, DJ Slice, DJ Laz|
|Fresh Kid Ice|
The 2 Live Crew was an American hip hop group from Miami, United States which had its greatest commercial success in the late 1980s to the early 1990s. Fronted by Luke Campbell, they were considerably controversial in the U.S. due to the sexually explicit and misogynistic content in their songs, particularly on their 1989 album As Nasty As They Wanna Be. They were also infamous for the court cases fighting for and protecting the first amendment and becoming the reason why music has parental warning labels.
The 2 Live Crew, although seen as a main fixture in the Miami hip-hop scene, actually got their start in California and was created by DJ Mr. Mixx (David Hobbs) with fellow rappers Fresh Kid Ice (Chris Wong Won), and Amazing Vee (Yuri Vielot).
The group released its first single, "Revelation", on its own label "Fresh Beat Records" in 1984. The A-side of "Revelation" contained a song by the same where the only rapper featured was Amazing Vee, and on the B-Side it contained a song named "2 Live" where Fresh Kid Ice was the only rapper featured. "Revelation" was popular in Florida. Luke Skyywalker (Luther Campbell), who at the time was local DJ and promoter, invited The 2 Live Crew to relocate to Miami. Also due to the subsequent success of 2 Live Crew, this made Fresh Kid Ice the first rapper to be noted in Asian American in hip hop, and the first Asian rapper to gain notoriety.
For their second single "What I Like" (1985), Fresh Kid Ice was the only rapper featured. Amazing Vee was only credited as writer, and left the group shortly after.
The single "Throw The D" released in January 1986 gave a permanent blueprint to how future Miami bass songs were written and produced. The song was produced DJ Mr. Mixx as he is credited to be the architect of the genre.
Rapper Brother Marquis (Mark Ross) joined The 2 Live Crew. Luke Skyywalker (Luther Campbell) gave The 2 Live Crew a record deal and worked as the group's manager. He also joined the group as its hype-man and spokesperson in their subsequent controversies.
The 2 Live Crew's debut album, The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are, was released in 1986. Alex Henderson of AllMusic commented that the album "did take sexually explicit rap lyrics to a new level of nastiness", with tracks such as "We Want Some Pussy" and "Throw the 'D'". With word-of-mouth attention, the album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Bob Rosenberg of Will to Power remixed "Beat Box" (originally released as "Two Live") and was billed "King of Edits" by Luke Skyywalker. In 1987, a Florida store clerk was acquitted of felony charges for selling the album to a 14-year-old girl.
In 1988, the group released their second album, Move Somethin' It was certified Gold and featured the singles "Move Somethin'" and "Do Wah Diddy Diddy". The album improved on the charts from the previous album, making in to #68 on the Billboard 200 and #20 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.
Campbell decided to sell a separate clean version in addition to the explicit version of the album, Move Somethin' (1988), produced by Mr. Mixx. A record store clerk in Alexander City, Alabama, was cited for selling a copy to an undercover police officer in 1988. It was the first time in the United States that a record store owner was held liable for obscenity over music. The charges were dropped after a jury found the record store not guilty.
In 1989, the group released their third album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be, which also became the group's most successful album. A large part of its success was due to the single "Me So Horny", which was popular locally with heavy radio rotation on Miami's WPOW-Power 96 FM. The American Family Association (AFA) did not think the presence of a "Parental Advisory" sticker was enough to adequately warn listeners of what was inside the case. Jack Thompson, a lawyer affiliated with the AFA, met with Florida Governor Bob Martinez and convinced him to look into the album to see if it met the legal classification of obscenity. In 1990, action was taken at the local level and Nick Navarro, Broward County sheriff, received a ruling from County Circuit Court judge Mel Grossman that probable cause for obscenity violations existed. In response, Luther Campbell maintained that people should focus on issues relating to hunger and poverty rather than on the lyrical content of their music.
Navarro warned record store owners that selling the album might be prosecutable. 2 Live Crew then filed a suit against Navarro. That June, U.S. district court Judge Jose Gonzalez ruled the album obscene and illegal to sell. Charles Freeman, a local retailer, was arrested two days later, after selling a copy to an undercover police officer. This was followed by the arrest of three members of 2 Live Crew after they performed the As Nasty As They Wanna Be album at Club Futura in Hollywood, Florida, hosted by radio personality Tony the Tiger (Ira Wolf) from Power 96 FM, one of the few radio stations in the U.S. that continued airplay while the trial ensued. After international exposure with support from freedom of speech advocates like SCREW magazine's Al Goldstein (who owned a house in Broward County) and many others, they were acquitted soon after, as professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. testified at their trial in defense of their lyrics. Freeman's conviction was overturned on appeal as well.
"A lot of people have gotten the impression that I'm this rude, sexual deviant or something," Campbell told journalist Chuck Philips. "But contrary to what has been printed about me in the papers, I'm no moral threat to anybody. I'm just a hard-working guy marketing a new product."
In 1992, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overturned the obscenity ruling from Judge Gonzalez, and the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear Broward County's appeal. As in the Freeman case, Gates testified on behalf of 2 Live Crew, arguing that the material that the county alleged was profane actually had important roots in African-American vernacular, games, and literary traditions and should be protected.
As a result of the controversy, sales of As Nasty As They Wanna Be remained brisk, selling over two million copies. It peaked at number 29 on the Billboard 200 and number 3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. A few other retailers were later arrested for selling it as well, including Canadian Marc Emery, who was convicted in Ontario in 1991, and would later gain fame as a marijuana activist. Later hard-rock band Van Halen sued over an uncleared sample of their song "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" in the 2 Live Crew song "The Fuck Shop". The publicity then continued when George Lucas, owner of the Star Wars universe, successfully sued Campbell for appropriating the name "Skywalker" for his record label, Luke Skyywalker Records. Campbell changed his stage name to Luke (and changed the record label's name to Luke Records) and the group released an extremely political follow-up album, Banned in the U.S.A., after obtaining permission to use an interpolation of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.".
Banned in the U.S.A. is the group's fourth album. It was originally credited as Luke's solo album. The certified Gold album included the hits "Do the Bart" and the title track. It was also the very first release to bear the RIAA-standard Parental Advisory warning sticker. The eponymous title single is a reference to the decision in a court case that its album As Nasty As They Wanna Be was obscene (the decision would later be overturned on appeal).
Displeased over the decision of Florida Governor Bob Martinez who, on being asked to examine the album, decided it was obscene and recommended local law enforcement take action against it and over the subsequent action of Broward County, Florida, sheriff Nick Navarro, who arrested local record-store owners on obscenity charges for selling the group's albums and the subsequent arrest of members of the group on obscenity charges, the group included the song "Fuck Martinez", which also includes multiple repetitions of the phrase "fuck Navarro". The group found two other men with the same names, and had them sign releases, as they thought that this action would make it impossible for Martinez or Navarro to sue them.
Live in Concert is their fifth album. This was 2 Live Crew's first and only Live album, and was also the only 2 Live Crew release under the Effect subsidiary label of Luke Records, a move that was deemed necessary for the company to be able to release additional 2 Live Crew material outside of their distribution deal with Atlantic Records, which was signed in 1990 - the same year they released Banned In The U.S.A..
Sports Weekend: As Nasty As They Wanna Be, Pt. 2 is their sixth album. Released in 1991, it is the sequel of As Nasty As They Wanna Be. A clean version was released later that same year titled Sports Weekend: As Clean As They Wanna Be Part II. This would be the last studio album by all original members of the 2 Live Crew. It contains the very successful single Pop That Pussy. The album is certified Gold.
From that point on all the release by 2 Live Crew would always vary having one or two member of the original line up missing by the exception of Fresh Kid Ice.
In 1994, Back at Your Ass for the Nine-4 was released. This album the group was billed as "The New 2 Live Crew" as Brother Marquis and Mr. Mixx had left the group, the line-up for this album was Fresh Kid Ice, Luke and new member, Verb. It is the last album with the 2 Live Crew banner to feature Luke. The album became a moderate hit, peaking at #52 on the Billboard 200 and #9 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Two charting singles were produced, "Hell, Yeah" and "You Go Girl" who were both made into music videos.
1995 saw a reunion of Fresh Kid Ice, Brother Marquis and Mr. Mixx re-formed again to record "Hoochie Mama" for the soundtrack of movie Friday. The soundtrack reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200, where it held the position for two weeks, and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for six weeks.
Fresh Kid Ice, Mr. Mixx, and Brother Marquis left Luke and Luke Records to go to Lil' Joe Records and released Shake a Lil' Somethin' (1996) without Luther Campbell. Shake a Lil' Somethin' is their seventh album. It was released on August 6, 1996, for Lil' Joe Records and was produced by Mr. Mixx. The album would make it to #145 on the Billboard 200 and #33 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and two singles "Shake a Lil' Somethin'", which made it to #11 on the Hot Rap Singles chart and "Do the Damn Thing", which made it to #24 on the same chart. It peaked at number 59 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop and albums chart. At the time of this album, Fresh Kid Ice had left the New 2 Live Crew (which consisted of himself, Luke and Verb and Luke Records) to re-join original members Mr. Mixx and Brother Marquis. However, the reunion would be short lived as Mr. Mixx would leave the group after this album.
The Real One is their eighth and last studio album. It was released on April 7, 1998, for Lil' Joe Records and with the absence of Mr. Mixx, was produced by various producers. The album peaked at #59 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Shortly after the release of this album, Brother Marquis left as well.
Circa 2006-2007 Fresh Kid Ice and Brother Marquis discussed their differences and decided to relaunch 2 Live Crew. They tried to offer other past members to be involved but were declined. Both of them started to tour and release singles.
Later that year, the both of them released the singles I'm 2 Live featuring Mannie Fresh, Cougar, Boom featuring E-40. They announced the release of a new 2 Live Crew album called Just Wanna be Heard with guest Too Short, E-40, and Insane Clown Posse. It was set to be released in August 2010, but remains unreleased to this day.
In June 2014, the 2 Live Crew released a new single Take It Off, the video clip features cameos by Mannie Fresh, Flavor Flav, Trina, Flo Rida, and Trick Daddy. The single is available on iTunes
Also in 2014, they announced an album called Turn Me On, which remains unreleased.
In 2016, Fresh Kid Ice left the group to relaunch Chinaman Records. Shortly after Mr. Mixx returned to the 2 Live Crew.
In 1994, a lawsuit brought by the copyright owners of "Oh, Pretty Woman" in 1990, was eventually decided by the Supreme Court. The Crew had parodied the original on the album As Clean As They Wanna Be. The Supreme Court unanimously adopted a rule from a earlier Ninth Circuit case involving Rick Dees, and ruled that the 2 Live Crew's parody was fair use.
Miami Bass, Booty Bass, Booty Music, or whatever you want to call it, changed the scenes of hip hop, dance music, and pop forever...The story of music's dirtiest genre reaches back to the '80s with roots set firmly in Afrika Bambaataa's elektro-funk...foundational artists Amos Larkins and Maggotron, both of whom have been credited as kicking the regional sound into motion. According to Stylus Magazine, Larkins and the Miami Bass conception can be traced back to the movie Knights of the City...Inspired by the humid and vice-ridden melting pot of cultures, ...MC A.D.E.'s "Bass Rock Express" gets the title for first hit of the genre, but it was 2 Live Crew who became the poster boys of movement. Record store owners who sold the album were arrested and charged with crimes of obscenity, and 2 Live Crew members were arrested just for playing shows...US Appeals Court system ruled rap was protected by First Amendment rights...2 Live Crew made it safe for hip-hop as we know it to exist. The influence of the genre is far-reaching...Miami Bass remains not only one of the most ridiculous and enjoyable genres of music in recent memory but also one of the most important.