Friday, December 5, 2008

We Owned The 80's: The Fat Boys.

Much like me, hip-hop was born in the 70's but came of age in the 80's. And an indubitable part of 80's hip-hop history was The Fat Boys.

The Fat Boys were a group of three, well, fat boys, from Brooklyn who burst (literally) on the scene in 1984 with their self-titled debut album. While they weren't the first rappers to use the mouth-music-making power of the human beatbox (think Doug E. Fresh), nor the best (think Biz Markie), they were perhaps the first to gain massive crossover appeal. Prince Markie Dee, Kool Rock-Ski, and Buffie The Human Beatbox rode the formula of Kurtis Blow tracks, beatboxin', and self-deprecating humor to the tune of eight platinum albums.

Here's their first single, "Can You Feel It?"

And the classic "Stick Em'" which prolly spread communicable diseases on school buses and playgrounds nationwide. I can still smell the wayward spit flying throughout my homeroom.

And the triple-corny "Wipeout". I still can't believe the Beach Boys straight sold-out like this. Kevin Love is crying inside.

While their musical legacy is firmly intact (laugh, seriously), perhaps The Fat Boys' lasting image will be ingrained in a pair of immortal movies from the 80's. Who can forget the gruesome "All You Can Eat" scene from Krush Groove? I'm getting indigestion at the mere thought of all that Sbarro. Ick.

And of course, there was Disorderlies, their 1987 solo vehicle, a movie that's already in the AverageKids Rainy Day DVD Collection.

Yeah, it's a bad movie, but much like The Last Dragon it was our movie doggonit, a pure slice of indisputable 80's black culture. A culture which defined my childhood and for better or for worse made me who I am today. In fact, one of my more notable "hip hop memories" was my first live show of any sort when I snuck into a Fat Boys concert at now-defunct Raleigh Inn.

I was in middle school, prolly 6th grade at best when the local radio station, K97.5, announced a rap concert coming to town. This may not sound like such a big deal to those of you North of the Mason Dixon, but in the pre-internet age of the mid-80's, musical acts, heck, music period, took quite awhile to make it down South. And despite being the state capitol, Raleigh didn't have an arena big enough to attract the colossal "Fresh Fest" type-concerts that routinely featured a dozen or so acts. We typically had to drive a couple of hours to Greensboro for anything of the sort. Thus, when it was announced that The Fat Boys were coming to RaleighWood, the school was abuzz. Yeah, they were merely 3rd-rate rappers with one album and a couple of semi-hits, but they were bigtime for us.

Longstory short, when you get a few thousand kids crammed in a ballroom best suited for a few hundred, then have the show start 5 hours late, some bullshiggedy is bound to pop off. Whodini was supposed to open for them (yeah, really) and The Fat Boys were supposed to hit the stage by 10 at the latest. When 1am rolled around and the Fat Boys were still a no-show, chairs suddenly started flying, tables were flipped, and lots of pepperspray was released. A few minutes later, dozens of cops and every TV camera in town was on the scene. Half of the pre-teen crowd was either arrested or simply kicked out. My brothers and I acted like we had some sense, kept our Moms at bay in the car (just keepin' it honest) and surprise surprise, around 1:30am, the sounds of the human beatbox materialized and The Fat Boys hit the stage. Perched atop a busted card table and chillin' in my best b-boy stance, I was instantly in love. Not with The Fat Boys, who only lazily managed to get through two songs before the fire marshal shut the show down for good, but with the concept of the live hip-hop show. I don't get out as much as I used to nowadays, but live rap concerts, despite the looming potential for danger, are always something I look forward to when I can squeeze one in.

While their popularity waned in the late 80's, and Buffie prematurely bought the farm with a massive coronary in 95', the husky trio will forever define a small slice of my adolescence.

Thanks, Fat Boys.

Question: What was your first live hip-hop show? Did you like Disorderlies? Does that "All You Can Eat" scene nauseate you too or is it just me?

The Fat Boys Wiki [Wikipedia]

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