Published on May 4th, 2011 | by Mikey The Footlocker0
Bring that beat back! — How Sir Mix-A-Lot Changed Rap with His Debut Album, SWASS
The Seattle native ascended the charts, creamed previous sales records, got more air time than Michael Jordan and made a national anthem for aficionados of the gluteus maximus. However, Mix-A-Lot also contributed something to the rap scene that goes largely unnoticed.
In 1962, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a single NBA game — a record yet to be broken. Such an accomplishment could not have occurred without the completely helpless defense of the opposing New York Knicks, however. Similarly, “gangsta rap,” as epitomized by N.W.A., could not have shocked and captivated America without Mix-A-Lot on the other side of the extreme with his silly lyrics, childish concepts, social commentary and recorded buffoonery.
In 1988 N.W.A. released “Straight Outta Compton,” saturating the public with explicit lyrics of guns, murder, “ho’s,” narcotics and police brutality. Also in1988 — the Ying to N.W.A.’s Yang — Mix-A-Lot launched his debut album and the topic of this article: SWASS.
The first song successfully sets the immature tone of the album — exploding through your speakers — as Mix-A-Lot’s sonic alter ego arrives, rapping with a mechanized helium effect confessing his adoration for buttermilk biscuits. The shenanigans by no means stop there. Throughout the album, Mix impersonates a sci-fi, intercom robot, his own posse of women and a Middle Eastern gold jeweler all before his insightful piece, “Square Dance Rap”. While many rappers tend to endorse products such as Cadillac, Trojan, Jack Daniels or Glock, Mix drops product placements that include the likes of Chevy IROC, Nissan trucks, Gore-Tex, Kool-Aid and Taco Bell.
The album is great for the very cheesiness that made it so docile. As rap was rebelling during its middle school age in the late 80’s/early 90’s, it still had an innocent streak as exhibited by SWASS — a record that reached platinum status despite almost no radio play.
Mix tells us: “Cause I never liked a punk, who beat up on his girl – if you don’t have game, then let her leave your world / They ain’t got money but they had a lot of dope / I said I don’t want drugs just give me your rope / [My] flesh like steel, M.C.’s steal / Mickey D’s shrimp salad not part of my meal.”
The album is not without its gems. Mix-A-Lot humorously and intelligently describes, in detail, the undesirable women that migrate to Seattle in the priceless song, “Bremelo”. Another Sea-town hopeful named Kid Sensation makes an appearance on the album in the fast-rappin’ track, “Rippin’.”
This album definitely will put a smile on your face, not only for its goofy premise and clever lyrics, but also for the abundance of 90’s snare abuse. If that’s not enough pique your interest, the last tune on the album, “Romantic Interlude,” may be the worst song you’ve ever heard.
Not many casual music fans can name a single Mix-A-Lot album but now you can count yourself a part of the minority. Moreover, you’ve got the skinny on this important piece of hip-hop history. ♦ ♦ ♦
Listen to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s, “SWASS,” and see if you can pinpoint which section was taken by the Pussycat Dolls to create their well-known chorus:
With dandruff the size of mice and a voice that could command the sea itself, Mikey “The Footlocker” Geurts’ contributions to the world reach far beyond SOUND. He invented the internet, proved and then disproved the moon is made of cheese, slapped Clint Eastwood’s mama, taught Vin Diesel how to break dance and sold the copyright for “Happy Birthday to You” to Warner Chappell Music Co. — all before 1991.