Like its contemporaries N.W.A. and Ice-T, Miami's 2 Live Crew emerged as one of hip-hop's most controversial groups. Transforming lewd party songs into cultural lighting rods, the group was at the center of one of music's contentious First Amendment debates.
Though the group is mostly linked with Miami, its earliest incarnation has roots in California with original members Fresh Kidd Ice (Chris Wong Won), DJ Mister Mixx (David Hobbs) and Amazing V (Yuri Veliot). After the crew's first song 'Revelation' became popular in Florida, they moved to Miami.
Soon after, Brother Marquis (Mark Ross) joined the fold, replacing Amazing V, and local music impresario Luther Campbell signed the act to his Luke Skyywalker label. Campbell, who also doubled as their manager, joined the group eventually and guided it into doing rap music with graphic sexual content and uptempo Miami bass sound.
Their 1986 debut, 'The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are' featured raunchy tunes like 'We Want Some P*ssy' and 'Throw the D.' By the time their sophomore record, 'Move Something,' dropped in 1987, Campbell decided to release 'clean' and 'dirty' versions.
But it wasn't until 1989's 'As Nasty As They Wanna Be' that 2 Live Crew really started causing a stir. In particular, local religious activist Jack Thompson led the charge to get the album deemed obscene by Florida state law. He succeeded when in June 1990, a district court judge handed down his verdict, making it illegal to sell the album in the state. 2 Live Crew members were arrested at subsequent live shows and a media circus ensued.
Scholar Henry Louis Gates even got involved to argue on the group's behalf. And surprisingly, the album sold more than two million copies nationwide, with curious parents and angsty teens wanting to understand (and listen to) what all the fuss was about.
By 1992, the obscene charged was overturned by Supreme Court decision, but the group emerged as a signifier of how far rap lyrics could go. As a result, the group has inspired generations of strip club rap.
Recently, Campbell has attempted to change his image in failed Miami mayoral bid. The group was honored at last year's VH1 Hip-Hop Honors awards ceremony.
Influenced...Ludacris, Khia, Pitbull, Lil Jon, Trina, Trick Daddy, Rick Ross, DJ Khaled, among others.
2010 VH1 Hip-Hop Honors performance: