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I Just Love My Beat

You could write a whole book on the importance of this record to Seattle music. Released seven years before “big butts,” it was the first record from local label NastyMix, started by radio DJ “NASTY” Nes and artist Sir “MIX”-A-Lot, in partnership with Ed Locke, the business guy.

NastyMix sold more than 45,000 copies of this record, kicking off an empire over local rap that lasted almost a decade, and launching Mix into the stratosphere. Also note that this record was “written, arranged, programmed, performed, produced, and engineered by Sir Mix-A-Lot.” The man did it all himself.

Here’s how influential local music magazine The Rocket reviewed the record when it was first released:

Mix-A-Lot’s vinyl debut follows almost a full year of hype, both within the mighty Rocket‘s pages and on K-FOX’s hip-hop show, Fresh Tracks with Nes Rodriguez. Whether these four songs justify the media overkill is debatable at best. But they do prove that within the synthesized confines of West Coast hip-hop, Mix-A-Lot can definitely hang.

The “Home Side” recorded entirely in the bedroom of Mix-A-Lot’s south-end apartment, includes “I Just Love My Beat,” and the surprise radio hit, “Square Dance Rap.” Where “My Beat” is standard West Coast fare, along the lines of L.A. Dream Team, “Square Dance Rap” uses electronically sped-up smurf vocals to poke some fun at country rednecks.

The studio side is notable mainly for “Let’s G (Watch Out)” where the “synthesized digital beat” is set to “Erotic City” styled “pone rock.” (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by Glen Boyd.)

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Daddy's Home

His debut album SWASS introduced Anthony “Sir Mix-A-Lot” Ray as a bragging, gold-draped mack who occasionally took helium-voiced comedy excursions such as “Buttermilk Biscuits” and “Square Dance Rap.” Sophomore record Seminar had all the same boasts, but things got political on “National Anthem.” Then came Mack Daddy.

The way “Baby Got Back” combined Sir Mix-A-Lot studio wizardry with the 1986 Channel One “Technicolor” sample is the stuff of legend. From the release of the track on Mack Daddy in 1992, to the Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1993, “Baby Got Back” enjoyed decades of success as a pop smash. Mix followed up with Chief Boot Knocka in 1994, and Return Of The Bumpasaurus in 1996. For his sixth studio album, Mix stayed in his lane musically and lyrically. Daddy’s Home in 2003 fits well on the shelf as a final bookend to the Mix-A-Lot catalog.

Daddy’s Home is all about being on top. The creature comforts and the power are irresistible. However, it’s not all glory and happiness. On the chorus of “Game Don’t Get Old” for instance, Mix mournfully admits that this player lifestyle has costs, “I got no kids because of it, and I got no wife because of it.” The theme continues on “Ya’ll Don’t Know,” with the refrain, “Ya’ll fools don’t know about how much all this pimpin costs.” Heavy is the head that wears the crown, as the saying goes.

“At The Next Show” featuring the late Shock G is entertaining, and Shock raps about getting some action on his visits to Seattle. In fact, sex is definitely a main theme of Daddy’s Home. The album’s lead single “Big Johnson” is a good example. In the irreverent track, Mix makes various observations about dick size, including a shout-out to ’70s porn star John Holmes. “Nasty Girl” has sultry, seductive female vocals that could mimic the call of mythological sirens reeling in sailors. One woman whispers, “I’d love to show you these tricks, now what you wanna get with?”

Throughout his career, Mix has always been quick to do a guest verse for just about any fellow Seattle MC who asks. His name pops up on local track after local track, just check the history. The myth that he never did enough to support the Seattle rap community is not supported by evidence. He has always been a champion of rap in the 206, and that didn’t change when he hung up his rapping hat and put on his godfather one. Mix really is the king of the Seattle rap scene. Anyone who wants to get ahead in life should observe how hard Mix had to grind. It’s an inspiring life story that is still being written. Written by Novocaine132

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Return of The Bumpasaurus

Sir Mix-A-Lot is an absolute genius. How else could he have come up with such a perfect metaphor to use for his newest LP, Return of the Bumpasaurus? The record is dinosaur-like in every way: small-brained, slow-moving, and, not least of all, extinct.

Return of the Bumpasaurus, as much as any of Mix’s recent offerings, reeks of Velveeta pop platinum. The only way I could categorize these tracks as hip-hop would be in the area of bad parody.

The song “Mob Style” should carry a ‘contents under pressure’ warning sticker for all the clichés and stereotypes that have been mercilessly crammed together. Mix uses the Sugarhill Gang’s “Jump on It” to simultaneously kiss asses in at least two dozen states across the U.S. (Yes, he did use this same idea in “Square Dance Rap” almost ten years ago-it’s not just your imagination.) Don’t worry, the lifted Kraftwerk-/Miami-bass-style beat is here just like on every other Mix record. Disses, put-downs, and egomania run amok throughout the entire album.

This wouldn’t be so bad if Mix were 18 or 19 years old and not pushing 35. It would take a city as recycling crazy as Seattle to produce an album that is so blatantly reused. The only points I can give Mix are for letting my man Funk Daddy rumble things up on the track “Top Ten List,” reminding me of skills like the track “Yo Flow” on Funk’s album Tha Source. It’s easy to see why so many artists are clamoring for Funk Daddy’s keyboard and production talents. As for Mix-A-Lot, extinction looms baby. (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by Novocaine132.)

Here’s another take:

In 1996 I was a young writer at The Rocket, and this CD showed up in my mailbox. I was busy at work on a cover story based on Tribal Music Inc. for the November 20th issue. I was definitely a contrarian, and I remember having a friendly argument with Strath in front of the Showbox the following year about the best recent rap album, he picked ATLiens by Outkast, I picked Sex Style by Kool Keith. The pull of the underground ‘backpack rap’ movement appealed to me, and soon I held contempt for anything even remotely mainstream.

So anyway, I decided to screw up my courage and write a harsh negative review for Return Of The Bumpasaurus. I guess you could compare my feelings at the time to a young prison inmate who needs to prove himself, so he goes out on his first day and punches the baddest boss in the yard, hoping to gain respect for being so daring. I totally forgot about my responsibility to The Rocket and its readers, and I blasted out this total attack piece. As it turned out, The Rocket’s editor Charles Cross was not amused, and after reading it he confronted me on the wide stairs inside the entrance to the Belltown office, clearly unhappy that I had attempted to torch the more than ten-year friendly relationship between Mix and the paper.

Now that I am older and hopefully a tiny bit wiser, I would write a very different review of this album. In fact, I could still use the dinosaur metaphor but I would remind readers that, due to his stratospheric, Grammy-winning success, Mix had become the de facto Tyrannosaurus Rex of the Seattle hip-hop scene. He could crush ten rappers just by rolling over in his sleep.

With twenty seven years of daylight between these two write-ups, my biggest observation is that the T-Rex went extinct, but Mix sure didn’t. Boy, was I wrong. Mix reinvented himself many more times, dropping his final studio album Daddy’s Home in 2003 with its lead single, “Big Johnson.” In 2010 Mix released his single “Carz,” dangling the possibility of a new album called Dun 4got About Mix. (Could this be Seattle’s Detox?) In 2014, he collaborated with The Seattle Symphony, which according to the New York Times, “was viewed with envy by some for the way it brought the symphony to a broad audience on the web, and derided by others as a cringe-worthy gimmick.” From 2017 to 2019, Mix-A-Lot was a DJ and personality for the popular Hot 103 hip-hop radio station. And who knows what his future holds… Written by Novocaine132

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I Got Game

The song “I Got Game” starts as yet another riff on “Posse on Broadway.” Sir Mix-A-Lot is again driving along 23rd in Seattle’s Central District neighborhood, except this time he’s a the wheel of a fancy new Corvette, and unfortunately, he’s only got two seats.

You commonly hear Mix criticized for not reppin’ Seattle enough. But in his lyrics, he’s regularly shouting out Seattle landmarks, his fellow Northwest rappers, and on this vinyl jacket, he’s sporting a Seahawks bomber, a Mariners cap, and has custom “MIXALOT” Washington plates.

B-Side track “Flow Show” is five minutes of amazing, unstoppable madness. Mix unloads bars upon bars upon bars of quick dodges and vocal acrobatics, landing lyrical blow upon blow and demonstrating how truly formidable a talent he is as a rapper. The verses are set against a restrained rolling and crackling thunderstorm bucket-drummer beat and a super-low bassline.

I Got Game was Sir Mix-A-Lot’s final record with NastyMix.

Throughout 1990, he’d been critical of how the label had promoted his album Seminar and resented how NastyMix was spending the money he was earning on funding a smorgasbord of newly-signed rock and pop acts, few of which were rappers.

In a September 1990 interview with The Rocket, he made clear his plans to start a brand new label, one where he’d have full creative control and that would be dedicated exclusively to Northwest hip-hop.

When I Got Game was released, NastyMix canceled the planned music video. Mix was quoted as saying “and that’s when I said ‘Uh-huh’” and he made plans to leave. Mix started negotiations with Def Jam, but NastyMix label owner Ed Locke threatened breach of contract, Mix countersued for unpaid royalties, and the two were then caught up in a protracted legal battle that took two years and cost a reported $1.2 million to untangle.

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One Time's Got No Case

When “One Time’s Got No Case” dropped at the very end of 1991, Sir Mix-A-Lot was wrapping a two-year court battle with his former label NastyMix. So it’s a curious coincidence that his first new song—the first from his own new label Rhyme Cartel—is also legally themed.

(The court case in short: Mix left NastyMix in 1990 to start a brand new Northwest hip-hop label with backing from Rick Rubin and Def American. But it was a messy divorce. NastyMix threatened breach of contract, Mix countersued for unpaid royalties, and the protracted legal battle took two years and cost a reported $1.2 million to untangle, nearly bankrupting both parties. Mix ultimately won his exit and his masters.)

Mix’s new label, Rhyme Cartel, would be devoted exclusively to Northwest rap. “My goal is to solidify the Seattle base,” said Mix to music mag The Rocket, “I kind of feel like the dope man—feed Rick Rubin a little and when he gets hooked he’s gonna want more.”

Backstory aside, “One Time’s” is a song that brings attention to racial profiling by King County police, about cops harassing a Black guy because he’s driving a def car. Mix is dragged to jail for some bullshit and his verses explain how he prevails. It’s an autobiographical caper in the style of Mix’s many other hits. The beat is built around a catchy looping guitar riff, one that feels like a rubber band bouncing his troubles away.

This vinyl includes the extended “Bass Mix” with additional lyrics, an instrumental version, and two new songs—“Lockjaw” and “Sprung On The Cat” from his then-forthcoming 1992 atom bomb album Mack Daddy. What this record made clear—when it promptly sold more than 50,000 copies—was that Mix was finally back on the scene, and victorious.

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Baby Got Back

“Baby Got Back” is a hip-hop song by American rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot, released in 1992 as the lead single from his third studio album, Mack Daddy. The song quickly became a cultural phenomenon, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and winning a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. Its popularity led to numerous parodies, covers, and references in popular culture.

The song’s lyrics focus on celebrating the beauty of curvy women and derrieres, which was a departure from the mainstream beauty standards of the time that favored thin bodies. The song’s opening line, “I like big butts and I cannot lie,” has become one of the most recognizable lines in popular music history.

The inspiration for the song came from Sir Mix-A-Lot’s own personal preferences and experiences. He had always been attracted to women with curvier bodies and felt that they were often overlooked by mainstream media. He wanted to create a song that celebrated their beauty and encouraged women to embrace their natural shapes.

The song was initially met with controversy due to its sexually suggestive lyrics and imagery. Some critics accused the song of objectifying women and promoting unhealthy body ideals. However, others defended the song’s message of body positivity and praised Sir Mix-A-Lot for challenging traditional beauty standards.

Despite the controversy, “Baby Got Back” became an instant hit and helped to establish Sir Mix-A-Lot as a major figure in the hip-hop industry. The song’s popularity also helped to pave the way for other artists who celebrated body diversity and challenged traditional beauty standards, such as Destiny’s Child and Jennifer Lopez.

In the years since its release, “Baby Got Back” has remained a cultural touchstone and continues to be referenced and celebrated in popular culture. It has been featured in numerous movies, television shows, and commercials, and has inspired countless parodies and remixes. Its enduring popularity is a testament to the power of music to challenge societal norms and celebrate diversity.

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My Hooptie

“My Hooptie” recounts another comic book caper from Mix-A-Lot, Attitude Adjuster, and the rest of the posse. It’s a bit of a revisit of “Posse on Broadway”: The crew are driving around the CD neighborhood, being fly, picking up girls, this time visiting McDonald’s. They run into Mix’s ex who tries to shoot out their headlights, but he runs over her toes instead. A bunch of silly stuff happens. The bass line is spectacular.

Mix namedrops “Hilltop” as a way to establish his street cred—and works in samples from N.W.A. and Public Enemy in case you didn’t think he was gangster enough. The posse roll into Tacoma to pick up the new Criminal Nation cassette and then visit a military club to size up the competition: Both obvious nods to the strength of Tacoma’s burgeoning NW rap scene. But Mix is hip to it, too.

This brings us to the key question: What is a “Hooptie” exactly? Mix explains that how his Benz is in the shop. So, for now, he’s gotta drive this loaner junk car, and it’s making him look bad.

It’s not hard to see “My Hooptie” as a clear metaphor for Mix’s increasingly strained relationship with his own label, NastyMix. CEO and money man Ed Locke was investing all those dollars Mix was generating into rock, speed metal, euro-disco, and synth-pop acts, diluting NastyMix’s identity as a Northwest rap label. Like his “Hooptie,” he’s gotta make excuses for this reliable clunker that he’s currently stuck with.

Throughout 1990, Mix stated his desire to start another rap label—this time his own, “so I can get a little more creative control over what goes out… I know rap… I don’t think NastyMix [does],” he said to The Rocket that year.

This 12” single features the stripped-down “Still Runnin’” remix and bonus song, “Society’s Creation,” about the government’s role in the nation’s crack epidemic.

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On the cover of Mix’s second full-length album, he and the posse—Kid Sensation, Maharaji, and Attitude Adjuster—sit in Greek robes, carving their songs into stone. But flip it upside down and there they are again, in reflection, dressed as revolutionaries.

When interviewed about his latest album, Mix was defiant: “I don’t care if it sells just one copy… I’m happy with this record.” But Seminar was a smash. It sold a million copies. It went gold… And eventually platinum, too. It spawned three massive hit singles: “Beepers,” “My Hooptie,” and “I Got Game.”

It’s clear from the moment you drop the needle that Mix is trying something new. One year previous, Public Enemy’s Nation of Millions blew up rap like an atomic bomb, and every artist was now scrambling to incorporate messages of justice and race into their lyrics.

When asked about his own politics, Mix replied, “I love this nation… that’s why I criticize it. I love my car… that’s why I tune it up.” In the song “National Anthem,” he criticizes the systemic racism in our government and policing—as relevant in ‘89 as it is today. It will probably also inspire you to read about Iran-Contra affair on Wikipedia in order to decipher the lyrics.

The second side opens with “The (Peek-A-Boo) Game,” a sad story ripped from the headlines: A young woman is forced into the sex trade only to meet her end at the hands of the Green River Killer. In the late ‘80s, there was an active serial killer who murdered 71 young women in the Seattle and Tacoma area, and so people were understandably scared. (The killer wasn’t caught until 2001.)

The most baller track on this record is “Goretex,” an ass-kicking, foot-stop ode to great boots. The beats and synths here are massive, floor-shaking thumps. Mix’s verses weave and dodge and land punches. I always laugh when the chorus sings “sound effect” in response to each of the posse’s activities.

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Three years before he dropped “Big Butts,” Mix-A-Lot was already a certified hitmaker. “Square Dance Rap,” “Posse on Broadway,” and “Iron Man” had all climbed national and international charts, and his 1988 debut LP, SWASS, had sold a million copies, achieving platinum status.

The single “Beepers,” which landed at the end of 1989, further demolished the charts, spending 19 weeks near the top of Billboard’s rap rankings, peaking at #2.

The song begins with some iconic kick drums and adds a Prince guitar riff. Here, Mix samples one of 1989’s biggest songs, “Batdance” by Prince, which had appeared in the soundtrack of Tim Burton & Michael Keaton’s mega-popular Batman movie that summer. This no doubt contributed to the song’s chart success.

“Beepers” is an undeniable classic, recounting yet another of his adventures of the posse. This time we learn Attitude Adjuster is a player, and we learn about a woman who thinks she’s hot shit because she’s got a beeper… But she ain’t so fly: Mix has one, too.

Like a lot of early Mix, there’s an enthusiasm for new technology combined with posturing and oneupmanship. In 1989–before cell phones—having a beeper was a mark of luxury and status. The tune also provides plenty of opportunities to turn old and new telephone sounds into beats and melodies.

On the flip side, “Players” covers similar terrain: hanging out and driving around with the posse, doing a roll call, meeting a woman who thinks she’s hot shit because she’s got a beeper… “Both of us are playing the same damn game, we’re players.” Hmmm. Mix continues to warn against drugs: “I’m a dope rhyme-sayer, but don’t smoke me.” In the music, there’s an odd tension as sitcom theme song keyboards run up against some dark, deep sub-bass.

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Iron Man

This revenge song from the man you love to hate lit the fuse that ushered in the Grunge explosion.

In 1986, Run D.M.C. had a huge hit with “Walk This Way,” by sampling (and later collaborating with) hard rockers Aerosmith. The huge commercial potential of crossover rap-rock meant that everyone in hip-hopdom went in search of their own guitars + bars anthem. Mix-A-Lot’s entry was “Iron Man,” a tune that first appears on the B-Side of SWASS and heavily samples that Black Sabbath song that today everyone knows because of the Marvel movies.

Mix wanted to double down on an authentic “Metal” sound, so he re-recorded the song with NW thrash group Metal Church, who lay down some electrifying riffs and thunderous chords throughout.

Okay, so… Metal Church were from Aberdeen, WA, and fronted by guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof. The group’s newfound fame working with Mix inflamed a petty rivalry between Kurdt and unknown 21-year-old guitarist Kurt Cobain, who often hung around at their practice space and who felt Metal Church were lame and worthy of ridicule.

Indeed, Cobain’s desire for Nirvana’s debut to surpass the popularity that “Iron Man” had bestowed upon his musical rivals fed into their songwriting, and led him to intentionally misspell his name “Kurdt” on Nirvana’s debut LP, “Bleach,” which dropped in summer 1989. (Ironically, the album’s two opening cuts, “Blew,” and “Floyd The Barber,” channel some serious Sabbath amp sounds and guitar riffs.)

Mix-A-Lot’s “Iron Man” spent 12 weeks on the national Billboard charts, peaking at #17.

The single’s flip is “I’ll Roll You Up!” You might assume it to be a cannabis anthem, but early Mix was pretty anti-weed, making fun of “tokers” on his early tunes. This song is another battle rap, repeating his supremacy, stating “I did ‘Posse on Broadway’ in cruise control” and criticizing overuse of the funky drummer sample by his rap rivals, adding “I never jumped on a James Brown bandwagon.”

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Posse On Broadway

Mix famously came up with the idea for this song on tour after noticing how there was a “Broadway” in every town in America, and he wanted to tell the world about the one he knew best, here in Seattle.

The cover photo on this EP shows “the posse” standing on the corner of Broadway and John, across the street from what is now the Light Rail station entrance. You can see Dick’s in the background.

Everyone knows this song: Mix and the crew go cruising around Capitol Hill and the CD in their black Benz limo, picking up ever more homies and women until their car’s muffler is hanging on the ground. (You can even look up the route on Google Maps.) They decide to go to Dick’s only to spar with a local rival crew, played by Incredicrew in the music video. (The video wasn’t actually shot at Dick’s because, at the time, the owner wouldn’t give Mix permission.)

Contrary to views expressed on “I’m A Trip” a couple of years earlier, gear head Mix shouts out his fandom for the Roland 808, noting how “the 808 kick drum makes the girlies get dumb.”

This 12” EP contains “The Godzilla Remix,” a glorious seven and a half minute version of the song, featuring sub-bass beats, scratching, new bass lines, and extra verses. The remix is followed by a further two minutes of bonus beats.

On the flip side is the cut “F The BS,” a track that appears on the cassette and CD versions of SWASS but not the vinyl, so this is where I always go looking for it. The beats on this song simply roar and Mix tears it up with rapid-fire raps.

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Sir Mix-A-Lot is one of Seattle’s Greatest Of All Time Rappers. It’s surprising how often Mix gets written off as a one-hit-wonder, as though the dude doesn’t also have multiple platinum and gold records to his name. (He’s also made $100+ million dollars from that “big butts” song, making him not only our first major rap star but also our most-ever commercially successful one.)

His debut album, made four years prior to “butts,” is a self-released gem called SWASS. It’s the one with “Posse on Broadway.” The album sold so many copies on vinyl and cassette and CD that it went gold, and then platinum, and indeed, between 1988 to 1991, it was the bestselling record to ever have been released in the Northwest in any genre of music.

Think about that for a second.

For the three years prior to Nirvana’s Nevermind, Seattle was suddenly on the map as a rap success hotbed, known all around the world as Sir Mix-A-Lot’s town.

This album—a debatable acronym for “Some Wild Ass Silly Shit”—is a gonzo trip, full of West Coast attitude, electro-gangsta beats, and humorous stories. On the front cover, Mix grabs the Space Needle as if it were a giant cock. The album plays like a concept album: you follow Mix and his posse as they pull heists, go clubbing, drive around the CD and Capitol Hill, and end up at Dick’s. (Note that the song “Bremolo” towards the end is an unfortunate blight of sexist trash and you should skip it.) This record put Seattle on the national rap map for the very first time, the beats and rapping are fire, and it’s as bizarre and entertaining to listen to today as it was 33 years ago.

You can find SWASS on Spotify, and I strongly encourage you to go listen to this slice of Seattle hip-hop history today.

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Rippin’ / Attack On The Stars

The “Rippin’” EP is a true double A-side: Center circles are labeled “1” and “A.” Both singles are strong, but the best cut by far is a mind-boggling three minutes and forty seconds called “bonus beats.” Mix chops up Kid Sensation’s beatboxing into a wild construction, demonstrating how truly skilled he is as a beatmaker, sampler, and turntable scratcher. At the end, he boasts to Nes that his competition “better retire.”

To best understand early Mix-A-Lot, picture him as an identity worn by Anthony Ray, the same way Bruce Wayne dons the guise of Batman. Early Mix was “Adam West”—a campy, computer-obsessed nerd with style who knows how to rock a party.

“Rippin’” plays like a send-off for this early Mix, looking back at his early hits and summarizing his rise to success. The lyrics revisit the themes from “I’m A Trip,” a section of “Square Dance Rap” makes a reappearance, and he samples vintage Electro greats Kraftwerk and Gary Numan.

After this record, the Mix character becomes brasher, bolder, more gangster… a guy who’s tough because he’s a gun-toting badass with a posse, and not just because he knows how to oscillate the bass kick on his computerized gear.

It’s always been curious that most of Mix’s earliest tunes have never been released digitally or on streaming: These songs are mostly great fun, weird, geeky, production marvels. Go seek out the original vinyl records! I found many of these in used bins for $1. You’re in for some wild ass silly shit.

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I Want A Freak

“I Want A Freak” has not aged well. There’s no tiptoeing around the fact that this song is mostly sexist trash, one of many regrettable rap tracks by many, many rappers from this period. Mix complains that too many unattractive “mud ducks” think they’ve got a chance with him when all poor Mix needs is a “freak”: A sexually adventurous mini-skirted woman who’s down to go “all the way” and party. This song is a lot of insults directed at women.

Someone’s inevitably going to argue that these lyrics are just some innocent “boys will be boys” locker room talk, but that’s exactly the issue with dick-dominated songs like these: Too many rap songs tell young men that a woman’s value only extends to how far she’s “willing to go” and that it’s totally okay to insult girls who refuse to “put out.”

But let’s not blame Mix entirely: “I Want A Freak” began as a B-side on his 1986 “I’m A Trip” EP. The song proved so popular that NastyMix re-released it here as its own single, with two new remix versions. A surprising number of online commenters—both men AND women—cite this as their favorite Mix-A-Lot track, so IDK.

This vinyl’s B-Side cut is worth a listen. “Electro Scratch” is a delightfully weird rap song, with vocoder vocals and beatboxing. You also have Mix-A-Lot showing off his prowess at scratching the platters, demonstrating he’s not only about computers. It includes the first appearance of Kid Sensation, Mix’s teen protégé who would soon launch his own successful NastyMix career…

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I'm A Trip

Sir Mix-A-Lot’s first commercial single, “Square Dance Rap,” was a bonafide international hit. When he returned to Seattle he found the local scene had become filled with haters, everyone accusing him of “trippin’.”

His second EP is a battle rap response to “you jealous boneheads: you know who you are” from “the man you love to hate.” On it, he proudly declares that “my game is never lame,” while adding “To rock the West Coast you must know more than turntables, yeah I said it, and I’m right… I’m the only DJ with computers in Seattle.”

Indeed, the superiority of his computer music is a theme that carries throughout most of the EP’s five tunes. Mix itemizes his gear, explains how to use bass oscillators to improve your drum sounds, dismisses anyone using the Roland 808 or Technics SL-1200 all the while praising his own choice of the Oberheim DMX drum machine. This EP is musically awesome but also nerdy AF. The last song begins, “I demolish DJs with computer technology.”

A skit at the end of side A is the first recorded appearance of the word “Swass,” as Mix and Maharaji discuss their fashion sense: “I’m Swass. That means I look good, and I know I look good.”

One crazy little story to add: Vanilla Ice, in his 1991 autobiography, included several pages of verses that he wrote when he was young… Except these were actually the plagiarized lyrics of “I’m A Trip.” Mix threatened a lawsuit, leading to a tabloid-fodder beef between the two in the early ’90s.

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Square Dance Rap

It was the mid-’80s, and hip-hop was still trying to figure out what it was. “Square Dance Rap” is a strange entry into the canon. It has sped-up chipmunk vocals. At the time, super-fast rapping was a thing, and Mix achieved this by slowing down the song, spitting his verses, and then speeding the song back up. He then performs as a Southern hillbilly character, instructing us how to square dance. But also, the beats are monstrous, the bassline is groovy as hell and you’ll find yourself singing along while contemplating the racist history of the United States. It’s one of those rare songs that becomes all the more perplexing the more times you listen to it.

It was a surprise hit song, a B-side cut on Mix-A-Lot’s debut four-song EP. It’s definitely a memorable listen. While “Square Dance Rap” did well locally in Seattle, it was a runaway hit in England. British record label Streetwave issued this eye-catching UK single in 1986. Mix-A-Lot was invited to play at the UK Fresh ’86 festival held at Wembley Stadium in London. He performed in front of 80,000 people, alongside his peers Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Dr. Dre & World Class Wreckin’ Cru, and numerous other golden age greats.

You can find the whole two-day festival on MixCloud, and it’s well worth a listen, especially for the moment when Mix-A-Lot convinces the crowd he can now rap very fast without needing to speed up the record.

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Mack Daddy

An undeniable classic. All Seattle rap today, in many ways, is indebted to, influenced by, a reaction to, or a refutation of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Mack Daddy and its mega-mega-mega-hit “Baby Got Back.”

This rocket ship blasted off from the Emerald City space pad in 1992–during the pinnacle of grunge–marking a time when Seattle was momentarily the ultimate hub of mainstream cool for both ’90s rap AND rock music. Go give this a spin. It still sounds fresh today.

Here are some fun facts: Mix recorded this whole record at home, in Auburn, WA, in a digital home studio off the side of his dining room. Mack Daddy was self-released by Mix on his own new record label, Rhyme Cartel, having announced his divorce from NastyMix in 1991. The album’s working title was Possessed. The record was distributed by Rick Rubin and Def American, who reportedly invested one million dollars into the promotion and marketing. Mix-A-Lot once estimated he’d made more than $100,000,000.00 from royalties from the song “Baby Got Back.”

A couple of years back I was lucky to catch Sir Mix’s semi-secret show in front of Dick’s Drive-in on Broadway. And man, the guy is still on fire almost 30 years later.

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Chief Boot Knocka

Sir Mix-A-Lot left Nastymix after his second album Seminar. Along with Ricardo Frazer he started up a new record label called Rhyme Cartel. Worldwide smash Mack Daddy was released in ’92 by Rhyme Cartel and their partner Def American. As a small historical note, in 1993 Rick Rubin saw the word “def” in the dictionary, held a mock funeral for the word, and then removed it from the label name. Sir Mix-A-Lot’s fourth album, Chief Boot Knocka dropped in ’94 on American/Rhyme Cartel. The image on the cover shows Mix flanked by a glamorous entourage dressed all in black.

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea slaps strings on the opener “Sleepin Wit My Fonk,” which drops a lyrical reference to Seattle landmark the Edgewater Inn at Pier 67. In “What’s Real,” Mix reminds us that Martin Luther King Jr. Way’s original name was Empire Way, and other bits of Seattle history. Pop culture icons Beavis and Butt-head add dialogue to “Monsta Mack.” Another notable cut, “Just The Pimpin In Me” was also featured on the 1993 Rhyme Cartel compilation Seattle… The Dark Side.

Chief Boot Knocka takes autobiography to its extreme, as Mix tells us every detail of his life, over and over. He is living like Hugh Hefner, with fur coats in the day, silk pajamas at night, and sex all the time. The success of “Baby Got Back” assured Mix-A-Lot a lifestyle that few ever experience. Because of the opulence, Mix-A-Lot’s tales can be a fun window into the life of the super-rich. Shopping for Ferraris and real estate is an everyday thing for Mix. He dares his haters to hate him even more, and their beef doesn’t even bother him. Mix has always been someone who doggedly pursued success, and once he found it he was happy to tell the world how he did it, and what it was like to experience it.

Mix talks about his troubles with the Internal Revenue Service in “Take My Stash.” “I paid ’em two hundred and eighty-five Gs, and that was just the ’91 fees,” raps Mix, asserting that, “I ain’t telling no lies fool, cause I’m real with this.” In a very meta twist, Mix named his publishing company “Where’s My Publishing Inc.” to reference his lawsuit with Nastymix Records. Following the success of Mack Daddy, Mix was the biggest rap player in Seattle by any description. Chief Boot Knocka is a million dollars worth of game for the cost of a record, such a value! Written by Novocaine132

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