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Sir Mix-A-Lot

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Inextricably linked with his pop culture touchstone "Baby Got Back," Sir Mix-A-Lot parlayed a gonzo tribute to women with large buttocks into hip-hop immortality, even despite his failure to score another hit of its magnitude. But even before he struck crossover gold, Sir Mix-A-Lot was one of rap's great D.I.Y. success stories. Coming from a city -- Seattle -- with barely any hip-hop scene to speak of, Mix-A-Lot co-founded his own record label, promoted his music himself, produced all his own tracks, and essentially pulled himself up by the proverbial American bootstraps. Even before "Baby Got Back," Mix-A-Lot was a platinum-selling album artist with a strong following in the hip-hop community, known for bouncy, danceable, bass-heavy tracks indebted to old-school electro. However, it took signing with Rick Rubin's Def American label -- coupled with an exaggerated, parodic pimp image -- to carry him into the mainstream. Perceived as a one-hit novelty, he found it difficult to follow his breakout success, but kept on recording, and even toured as part of a rap-rock supergroup called Subset, a collaboration with the Presidents of the United States of America. Sir Mix-A-Lot was born Anthony Ray in Seattle on August 12, 1963. An eclectic music fan but a rabid hip-hop devotee, he was already actively rapping in the early '80s, and co-founded the Nastymix record label in 1983 with his DJ, Nasty Nes, who also hosted Seattle's first hip-hop radio show. His first single was 1987's "Posse on Broadway," which referred to a street in Seattle, not New York; it became a local hit, and paved the way for his first LP, 1988's Swass, which also featured the popular novelty "Square Dance Rap," and a Run-D.M.C.-style cover of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man," with backing by Seattle thrashers Metal Church. The video for "Posse on Broadway" landed some airplay on MTV, and became Sir Mix-A-Lot's first national chart single in late 1988; that in turn pushed Swass into the Top 20 of the R&B album chart, and by 1989, it had sold over a million copies. Also in 1989, Mix-A-Lot released his follow up album Seminar, which produced three charting singles in "Beepers," "My Hooptie," and "I Got Game"; while none were significant crossover hits with pop or R&B audiences, all performed well on the rap singles chart, and helped Seminar become Mix-A-Lot's second straight platinum album. Financial disputes with Nastymix resulted in a fierce court battle and ended Mix-A-Lot's association with the label. Fortunately, Def American head Rick Rubin stepped in to offer him a major-label contract. Mix-A-Lot had long had a knack for mimicking (and mocking) the pimps he'd watched while growing up in Seattle, and adopted their visual style with Rubin's encouragement. He debuted for Def American with 1992's Mack Daddy, whose first single, "One Time's Got No Case," was a critique of racial profiling by police. It went virtually unheard, but the follow-up, "Baby Got Back," became a pop phenomenon virtually from the moment MTV aired its provocative video (which was eventually consigned to evening-hours only). Seldom does a comic novelty song spark such a fierce cultural debate: no matter how ridiculous it sounded, "Baby Got Back" touched on highly sensitive, hot-button issues of race and sex with a cheerful, good-natured crudeness that was guaranteed to offend more than a few. Was it a token of appreciation for women whose body types were rarely given positive cultural attention, or just another sexist objectification? Was it an indictment of narrow, white-dictated beauty standards that left many typical black women (and the black men who loved them) out in the cold, or did it simply build up one type of woman by denigrating another? Feminists picketed Sir Mix-A-Lot concerts all across the country that summer, but despite their efforts, record buyers sided with the rapper: "Baby Got Back" spent five weeks atop the pop charts, selling over two million copies; it also pushed Mack Daddy into the Top Ten, and went on to win a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance. Billboard magazine ranked it as the second biggest single of the year, behind only Boyz II Men's juggernaut "End of the Road." With 1994's Chief Boot Knocka, Sir Mix-A-Lot tried to follow Mack Daddy -- and "Baby Got Back" in particular -- with a set of danceable party tunes that, like the strip-club anthem "Put 'Em on the Glass," often played up his obsession with the female form. Although it sold respectably among R&B audiences, the mainstream -- perhaps assuming they had already heard Mix-A-Lot's best shot -- virtually ignored it. Personnel shakeups at American Recordings preceded 1996's Return of the Bumpasaurus, ensuring that it ranked a very low promotional priority for the label. Mix-A-Lot dissolved his relationship with them, and spent several years off record -- partly for legal reasons, partly because of a simple frustration with the music industry in general. During that time, he managed to hook up with the similarly frustrated members of the grunge/novelty band the Presidents of the United States of America. Mix-A-Lot had long been interested in rap-rock fusions -- in addition to his Metal Church collaboration, he'd also teamed up with Mudhoney on the Judgment Night soundtrack tune "Freak Momma" -- and started playing with PUSA in 1998. Eventually, they adopted the name Subset, and worked on some material in the studio; they also mounted a small-scale tour in 2000, but subsequently went their separate ways, partly owing to musical differences and partly to a lack of enthusiasm for the process of putting out a record. Some of their studio recordings were leaked over the Internet, but were never officially released. Solo again, Sir Mix-A-Lot signed with the small Artist Direct label and released his sixth album, Daddy's Home, in 2003; the lead single, "Big Johnson," was a satire of men who exaggerated their manhood, written at the behest of female fans who wanted equal treatment in Mix-A-Lot's sex rhymes. ~ Steve Huey
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Stations Featuring
Sir Mix-A-Lot

    1-Hit Wonders

    1-Hit Wonders
    1 song

    '80s Hip-Hop

    '80s Hip-Hop
    6 songs

    '80s Urban Music

    '80s Urban Music
    6 songs

    '90s Hip-Hop

    '90s Hip-Hop
    4 songs

    Hot Summer Hits

    1 song

    '90s Pop

    1 song

Albums by
Sir Mix-A-Lot

Top Songs by
Sir Mix-A-Lot

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Baby Got Back
  3.   Posse on Broadway
  4.   Rippin' by Kid Sensation
  5.   Buttermilk Biscuits (Keep on Square Dancin')
  6.   Put 'Em on the Glass
  7.   Jump on It
  8.   My Hooptie
  9.   Beepers
  10.   Chief Boot Knocka
  11.   Swass
  12.   Square Dance Rap
  13.   Iron Man
  14.   Hip Hop Soldier
  15.   Gold
  16.   I'll Roll You Up
  17.   Testarossa
  18.   Swap Meet Louie
  19.   One Time's Got No Case
  20.   The Jack Back
  21.   Lead Yo Horse
  22.   Testarosa
  23.   You Can Have Her
  24.   The Boss Is Back
  25.   2 Horse
  26.   I Checks My Bank
  27.   Seminar
  28.   Sag
  29.   Remixed for Her Pleasure
  30.   Mall Dropper
  31.   Lockjaw
  32.   Let It Beaounce
  33.   Funk Fo Da Blvd.
  34.   F the BS
  35.   Buckin' My Horse
  36.   At The Next Show
  37.   A Rapper's Reputation
  38.   Nasty Dog
  39.   Rippn'
  40.   Pimp Wit It
  41.   I Got Game
  42.   Top Ten List
  43.   Till Da Sun Cums Up
  44.   The (Peek-A-Boo) Game
  45.   Slide
  46.   Ride
  47.   Resonate
  48.   Poppi Grande
  49.   Playthang
  50.   Party Ova Here
  51.   No Holds Barred
  52.   Nasty Girl
  53.   Monsta Mack
  54.   Mob Style
  55.   Message to a Drag Artist
  56.   Man U Luv Ta Hate
  57.   Just da Pimpin' in Me
  58.   Game Don't Get Old
  59.   Double da Pleasure
  60.   Don't Call Me da Da
  61.   Candy
  62.   Bumpasaurus Cometh
  63.   Bumpasaurus
  64.   Brown Shuga
  65.   Bremelo
  66.   Big Screen
  67.   Big Johnson
  68.   Big Ho
  69.   Bark Like You Want It
  70.   Aunt Thomasina
  71.   Auction For Tricks
  72.   Aintsta
  73.   I'm Your New God
  74.   Why Do Rappers Lie?
  75.   Attack on the Stars
  76.   Y'all Don't Know
  77.   What's Real
  78.   What's Happenin' Sun
  79.   Till da Sun Comes Up
  80.   Take My Stash
  81.   Sprung on the Cat
  82.   Something About My Benzo
  83.   Sleepin' Wit My Fonk
  84.   Romantic Interlude
  85.   Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings
  86.   My Bad Side
  87.   Gortex
  88.   Daddy's Home
  89.   Can't Say No
  90.   Mack Daddy
  91.   National Anthem
  92.   Seattle Ain't Bullshittin'
  93.   Posin Like a Playa