I’ve searched for 2 Live Crew posts on tumbler. I found a few very interesting posts, but the majority of others were about their 1989 album ”As Nasty as they Wanna Be”, or the 1996 single “Hoochie Mama” from the Friday soundtrack (often posted as “Big Booty Hoes”). That 7 year gap, and the 7 years that precede it, are the real story. And “Hoochie Mama” proved to be their finale. And for the posts that confuse “Uncle Luke” with 2 Live Crew, they confuse me.
The origins of 2 Live Crew begin in May of ‘82. Tommy Boy Records released Planet Rock, and it catapulted Afrika Bambaataa as a central figure in Hip-Hop, as well as christened Bambaataa as the father of Electro (he’s not the father of Electro, but that’s another story we’ll post later). 1982 became the year of The Roxy. Ruza “Kool Lady” Blue began managing the Rock Steady Crew as she rented out nights at a Manhattan’s Roxy skating rink for Hip-Hop/Electro nights, where Bernard Zekri and Jean Karakos spent a lot of time there. They were the owners of a French experimental record label named Celluloid, and there, they began to network. From that, Celluloid and Kool Lady Blue decided to take the show overseas.
November of ‘82, “The New York City Rap Tour” went to France and the U.K. This brought Afrika Bambaataa there as a DJ there to promote “Planet Rock”, along with Grandmixer D.St, Ramellzee, Rock Steady Crew, and graffiti legends Futura 2000 & DONDI as a supporting cast. While in the U.K., an American Air Force soldier stationed there approached Bambaataa to ask what equipment was used to make Planet Rock. Bam told the soldier they used the TR-808 drum machine.
Come 1983, that soldiers deployment overseas came to an end. David Hobbs was now to be stationed in Riverside, California AFB. On the way, his flight was laid over in NYC. Hobbs stepped off the plane, went to the music store, purchased an 808, and took it to California to begin production. Once in California, he began putting on parties in the barracks. MCs and fellow DJs would participate, including fellow Air Force recruits calling themselves Amazing V and Fresh Kid Ice.
After recording some tracks, Hobbs took note of Egyptian Lover releases being released through Macola Records. He called Macola up, who agreed to manufacture and distribute whatever music Hobbs could record for his own independent label. Hobbs started Fresh Beat Records for his group 2 Live Crew, and Macola distributed it throughout the West Coast and Southern U.S.
In Miami, the retail drug trade was being closed in on by the FBI. With several early Miami Electro outfits being funded by the cocaine trade, Miami’s underground music industry was greatly in flux. This gave an outlet for up-and-comers. A small time independent promoter calling himself Luke Skywalker rented out nights at a skating rink to host his Pac-Jam parties, and he also ran a pirate radio station for his DJ crew “Ghetto Style DJs”. When Luke got a hold of 2 Live Crew’s debut single “The Revelation”, it was the b-side “2 Live” that caught his attention. With the lyrics stating “like Luke Skywalker I got the force…”, it gave Luke an anthem as a DJ. Luke brazenly gave Macola a call. He wanted this group to represent his namesake, live, at his Pac-Jam party.
Amazing V, Fresh Kid Ice, and Hobbs aka Mr. Mixx were all amazed as they boarded a plane for Miami. The performance went well. Luke invited them back, but as that day came, Amazing V decided not to join the now unenlisted duo. Luke offered to setup a label for the duo to record music, but the music would be inspired by, and marketed to, Miami parties. They returned to California to record “Throw the D” and “Ghetto Bass”. The single practically invented the Miami Bass blueprint as Hobbs became the default in-house producer for the label. With this, they moved to Miami.
Shows to promote the single went poorly. Fresh Kid Ice was all alone on stage, struggling to keep the crowd engaged. Clearly a second man on stage was needed. As the group got booked for the Dade County Youth Fair in 1986, Hobbs ran into an old friend in a Californian mall, Mark Ross. Ross had two records out back in 1983 with partner Rodney O (Caution Crew) that went virtually unheard outside of the West Coast. Rodney O had since been groomed as a protege of Egyptian Lover, and Mark was without an opportunity. So Hobbs simply added Mark to the group as Brother Marquis. The Youth Fair show was recorded live, and it was used as the opening track to the group’s debut album. But this was still not enough to wow audiences.
Luke was a promoter, and as such, gaining peoples’ attention was his job. Adding himself to the group as hype man, as well as offering hooks to songs, he completed the act. When they took their R-rated antics and beefed them up into taboo breaking X-rated antics, the crowd was drawn in. Before the album was completed, they had recorded a song called “Hey We Want Some Pussy”.
Regional success came easy with gimmicks like these. The group felt like superstars of their area when they recorded their 1987 follow up album. When publicity came to their doorstep for record store clerks being charged with selling pornography, they capitalized by releasing a double-album which advertised their intentions: “As Nasty as they Wanna Be”. Needless to say, it made teenagers giddy at breaking taboos nationwide. It also landed the group on every daytime talk show to defend their “despicable" actions. And ultimately, it landed the group in court to defend obscenity charges.
The feeling of narrowly escaping prosecution must’ve been overwhelming for the men involved, but for the business outfit, it provided an opportunity to capitalize on. No one knew this better than the label owner and hypeman, Luke. Despite a cease-and-desist from George Lucas over the use of the name Luke Skywalker, Luke Records decided to follow their recent album with a new album closley on its heels. In fact, too close. Only months after the hoopla, it was clear that another 2 Live Crew album might flood the market and lead to overexposure. So Luke decided a solo album was needed. The problem was, Luke was not a rapper, producer, nor scratch DJ. And more over, 2 Live Crew were both the talents and the draw. With that, the album was released as Luke featuring 2 Live Crew. That moniker proved to be the downfall of the act.
2 Live Crew had always operated with Luke on little more than a handshake deal. However, when Luke’s album was recorded, Atlantic Records was brought in to offer major label distribution, and Luke had the group sign contracts. The clincher was, the contracts were “work-for-hire”, meaning a one-time payment for each member, as Luke continued to reap the royalties on the project indefinitely. As 1990 neared its end, Hobbs realized there were no more payments, and felt shunned by Luke on a personal level. Hobbs moved back to the West Coast to begin T-Shirt and Khakis Productions. 2 Live Crew had silently broken up.
Luke, however, realized the group were still marketable, and brought the members back in to record one more album: “As Nasty As they Wanna Be 2: Sports Weekend”. The album was far from inspired, and as Hip-Hop struggled with sampling lawsuits at large, the project was wrapped up in the red tape of sample clearance the likes they’ve never know before. By the time the album was released, Marquis and Hobbs followed the lead of labelmate MC Shy-D in entering a lawsuit against Luke for back royalties. Fresh Kid Ice, however, remained on board.
Fresh Kid Ice always had side projects at other labels, employing rappers such as MC Smart, Balli and Fat Daddy, as well as the producer Devastator. As Kid Ice stayed on board, Luke offered him a solo album (The Chinaman) as Kid Ice offered his connection to Devastator to replace Hobbs. Devastator produced the monster hit “I Wanna Rock (Doo Doo Brown)”, which was quickly released as a solo project of Luke’s on the heels of 2 Live’s last release. This confused the public as to which was which. It also shifted Miami Bass away form its roots in turntablism that Mr. Mixx helped to found, and replaced it with high energy uptempo “booty music”.
Hobbs recorded an EP with Balli and Fat Daddy, and tested the waters at Florida’s 4-Sight Records. In truth, 4-Sight Records was struggling greatly, but Hobbs was unaware due to now being on the West Coast. When his “Oh My Gosh EP” was released in 1993, it went virtually unhead due to a lack of promotion. However, it contained this VERY notable track:
In 1994, Luke added new rapper Verb to Fresh Kid Ice and himself to release “The New 2 Live Crew”. The project made little impact. Then MC Shy-D’s verdict came down, and Luke was ordered to pay over $1 million in back royalties and damages. Luke struggled to pay and remain in business. Lil Joe Weinstein was his in-house adviser. Luke took Joe’s financial aid, only to fire him without taking his advise, which led to Luke being pushed into bankruptcy. Lil Joe simply stepped in to take ownership of ALL of Luke Records’ back catalog, as well as the 2 Live Crew name. In turn, Lil Joe reunited the three members in 1995 to record an album without Luke. To paraphrase the members I’ve interviewed, “it was the worst deal yet.” The group once again parted ways.
This is when Luke received a phone call from the music coordinators of a new mainstream Ice Cube move. “Friday”.
Luke certainly did not tell the movie producers that the crew was no longer together, nor that he was not working with them any longer. He simply called each member, used some diplomacy, and got them to reunite for a lucrative session. However, when the day arrived, Luke was no where to be found. The crew recorded their vocals, and returned home. As reported by members of the group, Luke took the track, erased a portion of the vocals Hobbs had done on the choruses in the latter half, and added his vocals. Once he delivered the track to the movie producers, the song was prominently placed in the film, and became one of the group’s most recognizable songs. The irony; it would prove to be the finale of their career. This is not to say they have not recorded more material as 2 Live Crew since, but little has made any impact, if not going completely ignored. But the clincher for those who don’t know, “Hoochie Mama” was not an original idea. Only the vocals were recorded during this 1995 session. The track itself was recycled from Mr. Mixx’s 1993 ignored 4-Sight released “Oh My Gosh EP”. This was so beneath the radar, even I missed it as the genre’s historian. It took MBH contributors Danny Wayback of Phatboy Ent and radio guru Jery Pulles for connecting the dots and bringing it to my attention. And to-date, 4-Sight Records seems to have taken no action against the copyright holders of “Hoochie Mama”.
Compare for yourself.
Miami Bass History Central