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Sir Mix-A-Lot

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

    '90s Hip-Hop

    '90s Hip-Hop
    4 songs

    Party Hits

    Party Hits
    1 song

    Hot Summer Hits

    1 song

    '90s Pop

    1 song

Albums by
Sir Mix-A-Lot

Top Songs by
Sir Mix-A-Lot

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