2 Live Crew

2 Live Crew


2 Live Crew is known as the notorious rap group that first took pornographic rap not only into the mainstream, but the jailhouse and courtroom. Originally a California-based hip hop group consisting of rappers Amazing Vee and Fresh Kid Ice with DJ Mr Mixx, their 1984 debut single “The Revelation” became popular in Florida, so record label owner Luther “Luke Skyywalker” Campbell helped the group relocate there. Vee chose not to participate.

Two more singles, “What I Like” and “Throw The D(ick)”, were released before Vee’s spot was filled by Brother Marquis. Their debut album 2 Live Is What We Are had some explicit songs like “We Want Some Pussy” and “Get It Girl” which gave the band an underground following and a reputation for smutty lyrics at a time when tamer songs were being heavily attacked by the newly-formed PMRC.

Campbell joined the group as an official hype man and spokesperson before the release of their 1988 sophomore album Move Somethin', an album that would fully transform the group from occasionally releasing vulgar songs into an all-out pornographic rap group. The album was the first ever to be sold in both explicit and edited versions. Authorities began unsuccessfully trying to penalize record store clerks who sold it.

In 1989, 2 Live Crew released their third album As Nasty As They Wanna Be (along with its somewhat milder companion As Clean As They Wanna Be). Its lead single “Me So Horny” was a crossover top 30 pop hit in the US and gave the pornographic album a mainstream audience. This attracted the attention of not only the PMRC but Florida attorney/activist Jack Thompson, who engineered a campaign that led to the album being labelled obscene in Lee County, Florida, and therefore illegal to sell or perform live there.

Thompson then fired off letters with copies of lyrics to governors and sheriff’s departments, prompting judges all over Florida, as well as in counties in six other states, to issue similar rulings. In June of 1990, a Fort Lauderdale record store owner was arrested for selling the album to an undercover police officer, and members of the group were arrested in Miami for performing songs from it. Eventually a jury acquitted the group.

These incidents inspired some of the songs on the group’s next album Banned In The USA (originally released as Luke featuring 2 Live Crew) like “Fuck Martinez” (referring to then-Florida governor Bob Martinez) and its top 20 title track which sampled Bruce Springsteen’s mega-hit “Born In The USA” with his explicit permission and ‘enthusiastic’ support. Banned In The USA remains the group’s highest charting album, reaching #21 in the summer of 1990. This would be the peak of the band’s mainstream notoriety.

2 Live Crew’s next effort Sports Weekend (As Nasty As They Wanna Be Part 2) was also accompanied by a companion album with somewhat cleaned-up lyrics. Its lead single “Pop That Coochie” (aka “Pop That Pussy”) reached #58 on the pop chart, and the album peaked one spot lower than Banned In The USA in late 1991. The album was certified gold seven months later, but the group’s popularity began to wane.

1994’s Back at Your Ass for the Nine-4 was released without Marquis and Mr Mixx under the name The New 2 Live Crew. It was their first not to be certified at least gold, and it had no pop crossover hits. 1996’s Shake a Lil' Somethin' saw the classic lineup reunite. Its title track peaked at #72, becoming the group’s last Hot 100 appearance. 1998’s The Real One did not include Mr Mixx and would make less impact than both of its predecessors. Music output since has been sporadic.

In 2010, Campbell revealed that Mr Mixx is not allowed to perform 2 Live Crew songs or even say he was a member of the group, due to “a 6-year-old slimy-as-hell settlement agreement” with the company that bought the rights to the music. Fresh Kid Ice passed away in 2017.