Saturday, July 15, 2017

Prodigy and Fresh Kid Ice

2017 is becoming as cruel to music legends as 2016!

Earlier this year, I had a blog post about 2 rock legends (Chuck Berry and Chris Cornell) who died in 2017!
http://pablowegesend.blogspot.com/2017/05/chuck-berry-and-chris-cornell.html


This time, I will write about 2 rap legends who died this year!

First was Prodigy, a member of Mobb Deep!

Second was Fresh Kid Ice, a member of 2 Live Crew!



Photos from MTV.com, Getty Images
Prodigy, Fresh Kid Ice




Both represented different forms of rap!

Mobb Deep was a mostly serious reality rap group from Queens, New York.  They rapped mostly to slower beats representing the grimy side of life!  They did a few party songs, but even thn, they rapped in a relatively soft-spoken style!

2 Live Crew were booty music innovators from Miami, Florida! They rapped with loud voices to really loud and fast beats! Their music made the dance floors wild! Their music brought out the wild &  raunchy side of even the most introverted people!  They also had a raunchy humor to their music!


1. Prodigy 


Just mentioning the word "Prodigy" can confuse even many music experts.

There was an electronic music group from the United Kingdom named Prodigy. They had a few hits in the 90's. This blog post is NOT about THAT Prodigy.

The Prodigy I'm talking about was the rapper Mobb Deep, a rap duo whose other member was Havoc!

 Mobb Deep was from New York.

There was another rap duo from South Central LA named .................... Havoc & Prodejee! They were connected with South Central Cartel and had a few underground hits!

Feeling confused?  I don't blame you.

But this blog post will focus on Prodigy from Mobb Deep, since it was him that died earlier this year.

Mobb Deep had their first album in 1993 titled Juvenille Hell, but it was their  1995 album, Infamous album that got them attention. Videos for songs like "Survival of the Fittest" and "Shook Ones Pt. II" showed a gritty, ghetto side of New York. Mobb Deep music was sort of like the Wu Tang Clan, but without all the marketing gimmicks. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIq4UTgqDAc
Mobb Deep
"Survival of the Fittest"
 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoYZf-lBF_U 
Mobb Deep 
"Shook Ones"


Both Mobb Deep and Wu Tang Clan were the alternative to the West Coast gangsta rap that was dominating the charts. West Coast rappers used funky beats and had sunny videos.  However, Mobb Deep and Wu Tang Clan used more dreary, depressing beats and had videos that showed New York with its dreary and cold weather.  It was such a major contrast.

It wasn't just the beats and the imagery that divided New York and California rappers.  There was some disses between both sides since the early 90's (ie. Tim Dog's "F--- Compton").

But once 2pac (who was from New York but moved to Oakland as a teenager) was shot in New York, this was war!

 2pac was going to visit a recording studio in which both Notorious BIG & Puff Daddy were present. But in the lobby of that building, 2pac got shot by unknown assailants.  2pac got paranoid and accused both rappers of setting him up to be killed.
Around the same time, 2pac became close friends with Suge Knight, who was the head of Death Row Records, which was the most popular West Coast rap record label at the time. The label already had Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg.

While 2pac was in jail, Suge Knight mocked Puff Daddy at an award show, raising tensions between the East Coast & West Coast rap communities. When 2pac came out of jail, he teamed up with Suge Knight to battle Notorious BIG and Puff Daddy!


The Dogg Pound had a video titled "New York, New York" where they are shown as larger-than-life human stomping around New York and knocking down buildings (this was before 9/11).  Mobb Deep took it personally, and responded with "LA LA".

2pac got involved and insulted Mobb Deep along with Notorious BIG, Puff Daddy, Junior Mafia and anyone else who was too friendly with them. 

As we all know, 2pac and Notorious BIG died, and tensions between East and West Coast rap communities had to be calmed.

Mobb Deep continued on, this time making singles that hit the pop charts. For example, in 1999, Mobb Deep teamed up with Lil Kim for their biggest hit "Quiet Storm". Lil Kim had the hottest verse, with "hot dam ho, here we go again"


 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=splv6HpkIIM
Mobb Deep w/ Lil Kim
"Quiet Storm"


Mobb Deep had their love ballad w/ R& B group 112


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZydWUidlyA
Mobb Deep w/112 
"Hey Luv"

Mobb Deep later stepped out of their New York comfort zone, and worked with  rappers from different regions and diversifying their sound. The best and least expected collaboration was with Atlanta's Lil Jon, who was the King of Crunk.  It definitely brought a different sound for Mobb Deep!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdlVskVl_g8
Mobb Deep w/ Lil Jon
"Real Gangstaz"



Mobb Deep had this collabo with Twista, with the horror movie score
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDOg1oZQnTk
Mobb Deep w/Tiwsta
"Got it Twisted" 


they also had a pop rap track with Missy Elliott and Nelly w/ sampled 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-My9S-I5FpA
Mobb Deep w/ Missy Elliott & Nelly 
"Playa"
 



They also teamed with 50 Cent's G-Unit, which had the club hits "Outta Control" and "Have a Party" (w/Nate Dogg)

 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3Oux1lN__4
50 Cent w/Mobb Deep 
"Outta Control" 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9cAz1M9398
Mobb Deep w/ 50 Cent and Nate Dogg 
"Have a Party"


Prodigy had a lifetime struggle with sickle-cell anemia, an inherited disease that affects the blood cell's ability to carry oxygen through the body. 

Prodigy expressed his struggles with sickle-cell anemia with his solo song "You Can Never Feel My Pain"

Prodigy
"You Can Never Feel My Pain" 


Last month, Prodigy had to be hospitalized when he was visiting Las Vegas while on tour. Few days later, Prodigy died in the hospital.  The exact details haven't been publicized, but as always, rumors fly around.  I won't even bother discussing the rumors. 

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2.) Fresh Kid Ice


Fresh Kid Ice was part of 2 Live Crew, along with Brother Marquis, Mr. Mixx (who was the DJ) and Uncle Luke (who as explained later in the post, didn't last long in the group and became a star in his own right)

Fresh Kid Ice was of African & Chinese ancestries. He was the first major rap star of Asian ancestry, and led the way for many Asian (and part-Asian) rappers like Far East Movement,  PSY, Tyga, appl.de.app (of Black Eyed Peas), Sticky Fingaz (from Onyx), Roscoe Umali and Nicki Minaj.

And like Nicki Minaj, Fresh Kid Ice was born in Trinidad & Tobago and moved to the US as a kid. He spent his younger years moving around a lot, going from New York to California. 

Fresh Kid Ice was in the US Air Force and was stationed in California where he met Brother Marquis (another person who moved from New York to California) and Mr Mixx. They eventually found their way to Miami, which would be the homebase for their group 2 Live Crew.

Miami in the 1980s was notorious for many things: parties, drugs, gangs and riots. Even the local college football team (University of Miami Hurricanes) had the bad-boy image, with it's street tough dudes who talked trash and did end-zone dances. 

2 Live Crew fit right in to that environment.

There, they also met Luther Campbell (aka Uncle Luke), a tall, loud entrepreneur who owned Luke Records. He signed them to his label and made himself a member. He wasn't much of rapper, more of a guy that chanted their song's chorus in a real loud and hyped voice. Sort of like Lil Jon before there was a Lil Jon.

However, the other members of  2 Live Crew eventually got fed up with their contract and left Luke Records.  They joined Lil Joe Records. Meanwhile, Uncle Luke had a successful solo career!


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Yes, it's hard to believe now in the 21st Century that there was a time when South wasn't even much of a factor in hip-hop. The South just dominates the entire hip-hop scene now. Even rappers from the outside copy the Southern hip-hop style into their music.

But that all unheard of until 2 Live Crew came in. 

2 Live Crew introduced the world to the Southern style of rap, but more specifically in their case .....booty music :)

As the name says it, booty music is all about shaking your booty! The music had fast beats that gets everyone to dance floor showing their wild sexual side. Even the most introverted aren't immune to the effects of the beat of booty music!  :) 

Booty music became the ultimate party music of the late 80s and the 1990s. Other rappers from the South joined the booty music scene, including but not limited to 69 Boyz, 95 South, DJ Laz, Tag Team, Quad City DJs, Kinsu, Afro-Rican, Dis N Dat, and more!

Later, other Southern cities developed their own styles of party-styled hip-hop, including "bounce music" from New Orleans and "crunk music" from Atlanta.  By the late 90s, the South was the place to be! (something that was hard to say before the Civil Rights Movement ended Jim Crow).

But it wasn't just the fast beats and loud voices that made 2 Live Crew stand out! It was also their very raunchy style of humor, with lots of  references to sexual body parts and nasty sex acts!  Their lyrics offended both the Religious Right (who dominated the political scene in the South) as well as the Feminists (who didn't find their humor in many sexual fantasies expressed in their lyrics).

At the time, Tipper Gore was leading the crusade against offensive lyrics from many rock & rap musicians.  Her intended long-term goal was to get both conservative and feminists to support her husband Al Gore who was a rising star of the Democrat Party. But what she really did was alienating the younger generation who would eventually become future voters. 

Meanwhile, conservative politicians banned "obscene music" from being sold in several counties in the South. 2 Live Crew was even arrested for performing their songs in one Florida town

This made 2 Live Crew into the new leaders of the Free Speech movement. 

All the notoriety from the censors made 2 Live Crew more popular.  At the same time, rap artists like Ice-T and NWA, as well as rock artists like Slayer were enjoying the free publicity gained from all the complaints from the censors. They refused to apologize for their music, which made them superheroes to the younger generation. 

Ironically, in the 2010s, there has been a new group of censors called the So-called Justice Warriors (SJWs) who lead aggressive campaigns against "microaggressions", "cultural appropriation" and anything that isn't "politically correct". Just like the Religious Right, the SJWs have no sense of humor, making them easy targets of ridicule.  Their aggressive foot-stomping and storming of speeches by guest speakers were meant to scare people. But what it's REALLY doing is making super-stars of outrageous speakers like Milo Yiannopolous (aka Milo) and Bill Maher who revel in all the free publicity!  

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Enough of the censors, let's go over some hits by 2 Live Crew.

I try to keep my blog "family friendly", but as you know 2 Live Crew is known for being "family friendly", so I'll just link to "clean versions" of their songs

This was their 1st major hit, "Me So Horny", which sampled a catchphrase of a Vietnamese sex worker from the "Full Metal Jacket" movie. 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4rLkMiQ9xM
2 Live Crew
"Me So Horny"



Here's "Banned in the USA", 2 Live Crew's response to all the censors. The song sampled Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA

All the censorship pansies, including the Religious Right Fascists and the Politically Correct So-called Justice Pansy Warriors should listen to this song!




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEH_ms8d1ws
2 Live Crew
"Banned in the USA"



Here's Mama Juanita, which sampled Santana's "Oye Como Va"


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuUPAd-BzMc
2Live Crew
"Mama Juanita"


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If you ever wonder why so many dance to songs with degrading lyrics, the drum beats of the next song can get even the most uptight person onto the dance floor and totally ignore that song is telling women "you ain't nothing but a Hoochie Mama". That sounds so rude!  Nothing against women who fit the "hoochie" stereotype, but I'm sure there's to them than just her hoochie style!   But even the most hardcore feminist can't resist the drum beats to this song!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpPdSiWXYzg
2 Live Crew
"Hoochie Mama"







And here's the ultimate party jam of all time, the song that should be required to played at EVERY party in the Universe! 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EylyhEziLhk
2 Live Crew
"Shake a Lil Something"



A party should NEVER go without THAT song!

I was very fortunate to be in high school when that song was popular! That song (plus the Hoochie Mama song) got played at our school dances  :)  It was a magic moment, it was legendary! :)



And that right there, is the legacy of 2 Live Crew! They may go a little overboard (OK, a lot overboard), but they make the best party music out there! :)

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Sadly, Fresh Kid Ice has been facing major health problems in the last  decade.  He had a stroke in 2009 and 2010.  As a result, he struggled with mobility and speech issues.

And sadly, Fresh Kid Ice died 2 days ago (7/13/2017). The details of the death hasn't officially gone public, but it is believed to be a result of on-going medical issues!

So while Fresh Kid Ice is no longer suffering on Earth, his legacy of party music lives on! 





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PS:

Pablo the Mad Tiger Warrior (aka Me) has this suggestion for the entertainment world






With movies already made about NWA, Notorious BIG and 2pac, there has been talk of making more, with people wanting a film about Snoop & the Dogg Pound or about Wu-Tang Clan!



What I really want to see is a movie about 2 Live Crew! It's not just their music or their wild parties. There was real controversy about them when they first became popular! Politicians wanted to censor them, activists of all types (religious right-wingers, radical feminists, etc) objected to their music! Plus, they had business conflicts with Uncle Luke! Plus, with their personalities, you'll know there'll be some funny moments in the movie!



We need that film!