Miami, Florida, , U.S..... Vocal Rap Group
Genres..... Southern Hip-Hop, Rap, Miami bass
Members..... Fresh Kid Ice, Brother Marquis, Luke Mr. Mixx, Amazing Vee Verb
Labels..... Atlantic Records, Fresh Beat, Macola Records, Luke Records, Lil Joe Records
Years active - 1982–1991, 1994–1998 (Reunions: 2003, 2012, 2014) was an American Southern hip-hop group That caused considerable controversy with the themes of their work.
2 Live Crew (also known as "The 2 Live Crew") is a controversial Miami bass group, largely known due to the sexual themes of one Southern hip-hop album: 1989's 'As Nasty As They Wanna Be'. It was both certified double platinum by the RIAA as well as subject to an acrimonious legal case. 2 Live Crew formed as three young men in the U.S. Air Force all met each other after they became stationed in Riverside, California in 1984.
Made up of Fresh Kid Ice (born Chris Wong Won), DJ Mr. Mixx (born David Hobbs), and Amazing V (born Yuri Vielot), the multi-racial rap group released their debut single, "Revelation". in 1985. Published through Fresh Beat Records/Macola Records out of Hollywood, California, their track showed the fingerprints of early 80s Electronica music. Inspired by records by hip-hop pioneers such as Afrika Bambaataa, they put the group together with the intentions of "sustaining the 808 kick drum".
"Revelation" achieved major success in Miami, Florida, where performer Luke Skyywalker (born Luther Campbell) and the Ghetto Style DJ's took interest in 2 Live Crew. The group traveled to Miami to perform at Luke's "Pac Jam" teen club, also landing live mix show slots on Steven J Grey's WEDR radio show. In 1985, the group released a new single, called "What I Like", on Fresh Beat/Macola.
Amazing V left the group, and Fresh Kid Ice along with Mr. Mixx moved to Miami, hiring Luke Skyywalker as their manager. In 1986, the act was hired to perform WEDR's Dade County Youth Fair, adding fellow California rapper Brother Marquis, formerly of The Caution Crew, and recorded the opening song to their album live. After realizing their shows lacked stage presence, they decided to add Luke to the group as a stage hypeman. Reacting to the crowd's dirty dancing they saw in Miami, they responded by recording suggestive music, which soon evolved into fully fledged x-rated music.
Once major labels came to Luke in hopes of recruiting the group away from Luke Skyywalker Records, Luke finally clamped down and had 2 Live Crew sign contracts. Having their own label also meant keeping their tracks free from record company censorship, and 2 Live Crew's raunchy 1986 song "Throw the D" managed to sell over 200,000 copies. Luke joined the group completely as a co-vocalist as well.
On the heels of "As Nasty as they Wanna Be", Luke decided to record an album in his own name with the massive aid of 2 Live Crew. When the crew received a small flat fee for their work on Luke's album rather than receiving royalties, the group secretly broke up over money. Mr. Mixx moved to Oakland forming T-Shirt & Khakis Productions, and Brother Marquis moved to Atlanta forming the group 2 Nazty; however, Luke convinced them to record one more album. During the recording process, sample clearances became an issue, making the record less than their expectations. The crew remained broken up, suing Luke for back royalties. Fresh Kid Ice backed out of the suit, remained with Luke Records, and reformed as "The New 2 Live Crew" for one album.
Finally, he too left Luke and the three core members regrouped signing with Luke's former business associate Lil Joe Weinstein, but the album was not marketed well. The filmmakers behind the film "Friday" contacted Luke for a new 2 Live Crew song for the soundtrack not knowing the group had broken up. Luke convinced them to regroup under Luke's tutelage again for one song, but that was the last time all four members would work together. Since then, various members have recorded and toured as 2 Live Crew, licensing the name from Lil Joe Weinstein.
In 1989, the group released their album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be, which also became the group's most successful album. A large part of its success was due to the single "Me So Horny", which was popular locally with heavy radio rotation on Miami's WPOW-Power 96 FM. The American Family Association (AFA) did not think the presence of a "Parental Advisory" sticker was enough to adequately warn listeners of what was inside the case. Jack Thompson, a lawyer affiliated with the AFA, met with Florida Governor Bob Martinez and convinced him to look into the album to see if it met the legal classification of obscenity. In 1990, action was taken at the local level and Nick Navarro, Broward County sheriff, received a ruling from County Circuit Court judge Mel Grossman that probable cause for obscenity violations existed. In response, Luther Campbell maintained that people should focus on issues relating to hunger and poverty rather than on the lyrical content of their music.
Navarro warned record store owners that selling the album might be prosecutable. The 2 Live Crew then filed a suit against Navarro. That June, U.S. district court Judge Jose Gonzalez ruled the album obscene and illegal to sell. Charles Freeman, a local retailer, was arrested two days later, after selling a copy to an undercover police officer. This was followed by the arrest of three members of The 2 Live Crew after they performed the As Nasty As They Wanna Be album at Club Futura in Hollywood, Florida hosted by radio personality Tony the Tiger (Ira Wolf) from Power 96 FM; one of the few radio stations in the U.S. that continued airplay while the trial ensued. After international exposure with support from freedom of speech advocates like SCREW magazine's Al Goldstein and many others, they were acquitted soon after, as professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. testified at their trial in defense of their lyrics. Freeman's conviction was overturned on appeal as well.
"A lot of people have gotten the impression that I'm this rude sexual deviant or something," Campbell told journalist Chuck Philips. "But contrary to what has been printed about me in the papers, I'm no moral threat to anybody. I'm just a hard-working guy marketing a new product."
In 1992, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overturned the obscenity ruling from Judge Gonzalez, and the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear Broward County's appeal. As in the Freeman case, Gates testified on behalf of The 2 Live Crew, arguing that the material that the county alleged was profane actually had important roots in African-American vernacular, games, and literary traditions and should be protected.
As a result of the controversy, sales of As Nasty As They Wanna Be remained brisk, selling over two million copies. It peaked at number 29 on the Billboard 200 and number 3 on the Top R&B/Southern Hip-Hop Albums chart. A few other retailers were later arrested for selling it as well, including Canadian Marc Emery, who was convicted in Ontario in 1991, and would later gain fame as a marijuana activist. Later hard-rock band Van Halen sued over an uncleared sample of their song "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" in the 2 Live Crew song "The F@#k Shop". The publicity then continued when George Lucas, owner of the Star Wars universe, successfully sued Campbell for appropriating the name "Skywalker" for his record label, Luke Skyywalker Records. Campbell changed his stage name to Luke (and changed the record label's name to Luke Records) and the group released an extremely political follow-up album, Banned in the U.S.A., after obtaining permission to use an interpolation of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A.. The 2 Live Crew paraphernalia with the Luke Skyywalker or Skyywalker logos are often sought-after collector's items
Banned in the U.S.A. is the fourth album by the 2 Live Crew. It was originally credited as Luke's solo album. The certified Gold album included the hits "Do the Bart" and the title track. It was also the very first release to bear the RIAA-standard Parental Advisory warning sticker.
The eponymous title single is a reference to the decision in a court case that its album As Nasty As They Wanna Be was obscene (the decision would later be overturned on appeal). Bruce Springsteen granted the group permission to interpolate his song "Born in the U.S.A." for it.
Displeased over the decision of Florida Governor Bob Martinez who, on being asked to examine the album, decided it was obscene and recommended local law enforcement take action against it and over the subsequent action of Broward County, Florida, sheriff Nick Navarro, who arrested local record-store owners on obscenity charges for selling the group's albums and the subsequent arrest of members of the group on obscenity charges, the group included the song "F$#k Martinez", which also includes multiple repetitions of the phrase "f@#k Navarro". The group found two other men with the same names, and had them sign releases, as they thought that this action would make it impossible for Martinez or Navarro to sue them.
Shortly after the recording of "The New 2 Live Crew" Back at Your Ass for the Nine-4, Fresh Kid Ice, Brother Marquis and Mr. Mixx re-formed again to record "Hoochie Mama" for the soundtrack of 1995 movie Friday. Fresh Kid Ice, Mr. Mixx, and Brother Marquis left Luke and Luke Records to go to Lil' Joe Records and released Shake a Lil' Somethin' (1996) without Luther Campbell. It peaked at number 145 on the Billboard 200, also peaking at number 33 on the Top R&B/Southern Hip-Hop Albums chart. Mr. Mixx left soon after, leaving Fresh Kid Ice and Brother Marquis to record The Real One in 1998. It peaked at number 59 on the Top R&B/Southern Hip-Hop Albums chart.
In 1998, Brother Marquis became a born-again Christian, quit the group, and began devoting himself to combating what he saw as the "evils" that he as a member of the 2 Live Crew portrayed and glorified. Rapper "First Degree" aka Tiki was then recruited as the groups newest addition by Fresh Kid Ice. However, his attempt was only for a duration of a few years. Fresh Kid Ice was for the most part a solo act using the name of the 2 Live Crew until 2004.
Later, Fresh Kid Ice, under the old banner of the 2 Live Crew, performed at the 2007 Gathering of The Juggalos. Around 2008, Fresh Kid Ice and Brother Marquis reunited as a duo; classic songs from the 2 Live Crew were posted on their Myspace page.
In May 2010, it was announced that the duo's album, "Just Wanna Be Heard", would feature production from Mannie Fresh and was to be released on Nu Focuz Entertainment/Lil' Joe Records with guest verses from Too Short, E-40, and Insane Clown Posse. It was set to be released in August 2010, but remains unreleased.
In June 2014, the 2 Live Crew released a new single Take It Off, the video clip features cameos by Mannie Fresh, Flavor Flav, Trina, Flo Rida, and Trick Daddy. The single is available on iTunes