1984 was a year of amazing firsts in rap music. Those 12 months were filled with debuts that would forever change the game. Highlights include:
Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons launch Def Jam Records.
LL Cool J releases his first single, “I Need a Beat.”
The Beastie Boys release their first single, “Rock Hard.”
Run-D.M.C. release their debut self-titled album.
The Fat Boys release their first album.
Now you might look at this list and think, ‘one of these things is not like the other…’ – but (on the 30th anniversary of the release of their debut album) I want to give a little love and respect to The Fat Boys. Herewith:
5 Reasons You Should Remember The Fat Boys as More Than Just a Novelty Act.
5. The Fun. Once upon a time there was a moment in music history when rap was fun. Rappers took their music seriously but still managed to have a sense of humor. The Fat Boys excelled at the art of being goof balls while displaying skills that demanded respect. In other words – they had confidence. You don’t change your group’s name from The Disco 3 to The Fat Boys without a sense of humor and self-possession.
4. The Beatbox. Big Buff Love, the Human Beatbox (along with Doug E. Fresh) elevated beatboxing to an art form. I hear that sound and I’m immediately transported back in time to 1984. I admit I attempted to beatbox in my bedroom (who didn’t?) but, 30 years later, I have yet to go public with my skills.
3. The Rhymes. The Fat Boys are responsible for what is, in my opinion, one of the greatest rhymes in rap history (from “The Fat Boys are Back”):
I’m starving, I’m in the mood
plain and simple I need food!
Hemingway and Carver would envy this spare, yet powerful verse. This has been my mantra on many occasions.
2. The Borough. ‘Brooklyn Keeps On Takin It’
With proper respect to Queens (for giving us RUN-D.M.C. and my favorite hip hop group, A Tribe Called Quest) The Fat Boys are part of a select group of legendary rappers to hail from New York’s greatest borough (yes, I did). Hip Hop would not be the same without the contributions of Brooklyn rappers Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z, Mos Def, Notorious B.I.G., Talib Kweli, MC Lyte, AND The Fat Boys. Before Brooklyn churned out artisanal cheeses and craft beers, it gave us hip hop artists who would sell millions of records and elevate the art form of rap.
1. The Legacy. Ok – so they would go on to make the movie Disorderlies and record duets with Chubby Checker and The Beach Boys. I won’t argue the artistic merit of any of those projects – except to say that they were all hits (pause for a moment and think about this fact: People paid money to see Disorderlies.) But if you listen to their first two albums I think you’ll hear why so many people – including Jay-Z (‘First The Fat Boys Break-Up, now every day I wake up/Somebody got a problem with Hov’) think The Fat Boys deserve to be remembered with respect.
(Please note this post was written without any weight puns. The words: heavy, hungry, weighty, substantial, sizable, ample were not used. The author is quite proud of his self-control.)