A Dancefloor Classic is Born: August 2 in Hip-Hop History
One of the most requested songs in hip-hop history was released on this day by classic duo Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, and the anthem endures. Learn about this vital song and more today in hip-hop history.
1959: Johnny Kemp is Born
Born in Nassau, Bahamas, Johnny Kemp moved to New York City just out of his teens and later released the still-relevant working class R&B No. 1 anthem “Just Got Paid” in 1988, a Top 10 pop hit that was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song.
“I discovered Johnny Kemp and Meli’sa Morgan,” the late producer Kashif explained to Wax Poetics in 2016. “She was doing background vocals for me when we decided to do a record for her. I discovered them singing at a club in New York City. It was called the Cellar. They used to have this small stage, and they used to have Johnny Kemp and her singing there. I thought they were some talented people.”
Kemp died tragically in an accident in Montego Bay, Jamaica on April 16, 2015.
1988: Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock Drop “It Takes Two”
“It Takes Two,” a beloved song in hip-hop history from Harlem duo Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock that was certified Platinum and hit the Top 40 was actually a bit of a last minute affair.
“With ‘It Takes Two,’ we were at a friend’s house and we were just going through a bunch of records. We had to go to the studio that night and we didn’t have anything prepared, but we found and liked the Lyn Collins sample [‘Think (About It)’] that night and went to the studio. We didn’t think that it would cross over and be as big as it became. We thought it would be what was called back then a ‘Tri-State area’ song,” Rob Base recalled to Rolling Stone after DJ E-Z rock died of diabetes at age 46 in 2014. “The song got real big and other rappers would say, ‘You sold out.’ At the time, we were really hurt by that, but 25 years later, it’s still going strong. It’s one of the greatest hip-hop songs ever made. That’s just a fact.”
1988: Salt-N-Pepa Release A Salt With a Deadly Pepa
Salt-N-Pepa’s second album A Salt With a Deadly Pepa was certified Gold, missing the mark of their Platinum debut Hot, Cool & Vicious in the United States but hitting in Europe, where their take on The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” was popular in several countries. Produced by Hurby Luv Bug, the album is a sampladelic wonderland featuring melodies, riffs and other sounds from The Beatles, James Brown, the Isley Brothers, Led Zeppelin and the Steve Miller Band, to name a few.
1989: George Clinton Releases The Cinderella Theory
George Clinton’s fifth solo album was a big comeback dropped via Prince’s Paisley Park Records and features Mothership colleagues like Bootsy Collins, Amp Fiddler and DeWayne “Blackbird” McKnight along with a Public Enemy collaboration. Prince then asked him to be in his movie Graffiti Bridge, which was released in 1990.
“He was quiet in the studio,” George said of Prince in Billboard after he passed in 2016. "He just did his thing and he gave it to me and I did mine. I pretty much work that way too. I can work with everybody, but when it came time for me to put my part on there, he was never there, and when it came time, I'd put my part on it and give it to him and he'd send it back to me. That's what he was talking about when he inducted us into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- when he said, ‘You pee on it, send it back and I'll pee on it.’ That was our conversation: ‘We gonna do this…’ He'd send me a tape. … And the very first tape he sent me was something called ‘Cookie Jar,’ and we had had a song on the Parlet album called ‘Cookie Jar.’ He sent it to me to do something on it, and before I got to the track, the engineer had put the song on backwards and erased half of it. I was so glad I wasn't in the studio, 'cause I would've got blamed for it! But then after that I went out to Paisley [Park], and that's when I started making The Cinderella Theory.”
1994: Immature Drop Playtyme Is Over
The second album for the R&B trio Immature featured a lineup change: Don “Half Pint” Santos left and Kelton “LDB” Kessee joined the group. Playtyme Is Over was released when the group members were 13-years-old and features their best-charting single, the Gold-certified “Never Lie,” a No. 5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 13 years later, Nicki Minaj would choose the title ‘Playtime Is Over’ for her first mixtape.
"When we say we're Immature, we don't mean we're bad kids,” frontman Marques Houston told Washington Post in 1995. “We just mean we're young and like to have fun. If you compare us to Jodeci, we don't sing about bumping and grinding and all that nasty stuff; we sing about thinking about a girl and giving her gifts and missing her, like a young person would. We've never had serious, serious relationships -- more like friendships. But we are looking for girlfriends."
1994: Jodeci Releases “What About Us”
DeVante Swing produced the Jodeci single “What About Us,” which includes a remix from Timbaland featuring the rapper Magoo. The song begins with hints of their hit “Come and Talk to Me” and includes harmonizing a “shoo be do bop, I wanna love you” vocal riff from Zapp & Roger’s “Computer Love.”
2002: Jean Grae’s Attack of the Attacking Things is Released
After leaving the group Natural Resource (and her old MC name What? What?) behind in 1998, Jean Grae dropped her first solo album Attack of the Attacking Things in 2002 and really came into her own sound.
“I think it was the culmination of me living alone, really coming into being an adult and deciding what that was going to look like, as well as my musical voice,” she told UGHH of the album in 2017. “The great part about it is that I had this amazing recording studio in my bedroom so I was making beats and recording my own stuff every day. And then Kimani Rogers approached me and said let’s make an album. That was the beginning of what became a theme for me. Someone asks, ‘Hey can you do this?’ and I’ll say, ‘Yup.’ Then walk away saying, ‘I don’t know how to do that.’”
2005: Necro Drops The Sexorcist
The Sexorcist is the fifth album by Ron Braunstein (a.k.a. Necro) for his independent label Psycho+Logical-Records.
“I guess I just felt it was evil, a cool way to rap about sex but make it brutal at the same time,” he told MVRemix Urban in 2008. “It’s a flip of the movie ‘The Exorcist.’”
Though it was perhaps his most critically panned album, a sequel still followed in 2017.
2005: Roc-A-Fella Presents: Teairra Marí is Released
Now best known as a star on Love and Hip Hop Hollywood, Teairra Marí was signed to Def Jam by L.A. Reid as a teenager and quickly endorsed by Jay-Z, who had just become a label executive and ushered her over to his Roc-A-Fella imprint. The first single “Make Her Feel Good” grazed the Top 40, while “No Daddy” gave a glimpse into a rough upbringing. Roc-A-Fella decided that it would be their only release with Teairra, which left her confused, especially since Jay didn’t call personally.
“I don’t know what happened,” she admitted to All Hip-Hop in 2008. “I just got a call out of the blue because I had gotten cut my second advance and everything to record my second album. I got a call one day. They were just like, ‘Yeah we’re going to be letting you go. You’re young and we believe you will be able to have a prosperous career without us, just kind of like throwing me out in the cold really. That’s how I kind of look at it, because we were all supposed to be like a close family. I called Jay-Z my father; he was like a second father to me.”
2005: Vanilla Ice Drops Platinum Underground
15 years after “Ice Ice Baby,” Robert Van Winkle (a.k.a. Vanilla Ice) emerged with his fifth album Platinum Underground. And he brought his old No. 1 hit with him, constructing a screaming hard rock version of the song to step even further away from what he claimed was an early manufactured image.
“Music shouldn’t be about gimmicks, image, it should be about the music,” he told CNN’s Showbiz Tonight in 2005. “I always felt like a puppet, it took on a life of its own and I’m riding this wave and there’s no way to get off it. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I’m a survivor.”