7 Ways the World Went Crazy With 'As Nasty As They Wanna Be'

February 7, 2014 9:55 AM ET
2 Live Crew
2 Live Crew
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Props for pioneering southern rap group 2 Live Crew are long overdue.

Friday marks the 25th anniversary of the Miami-based group's third album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be, a recording that broke ground on many levels – in album sales, censorship, and entrepreneurship.

Even though frontman Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell points out the group has never received a music award (except for a Hip Hop Honors nod) – no Grammy, BET or Soul Train recognition – it's not to late to pay them homage.

Below are seven surprising results about the 1989 release:

1. "Me So Horny" reached No. 26 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, marking the group's first single to impact the Top 40.

[Related: Infamous 2 Live Crew Rapper Still Making Headlines]

2. The album was the first by a southern rap group to sell more than 1 million copies and achieve platinum status.

3. The album was printed in both clean and dirty versions. The edited version is titled As Clean As They Wanna Be and its cover features a censored image of thong-clad models. The group's prior album, Move Somethin', is the first album to be sold in explicit and edited versions. In an interview with Arsenio Hall in January, Campbell said the movie industry inspired him to make separate versions of albums. "We took the sticker, put it on the albums, called all the retail stores around the country and said, 'Hey, look, don't sell this one to the kids. Sell that one to the adults.'"

4. On June 6, 1990, Federal judge Jose Gonzalez of the Federal District Court, ruled that As Nasty As They Wanna Be was obscene, making it the first album to receive this label. Gonzalez wrote in his opinion, "It is an appeal to dirty thoughts and the loins, not to the intellect and the mind."

5. Charles Freeman, owner of Ft. Lauderdale's E.C. Records, was arrested on June 8, 1990, two days after the obscenity ruling. Freeman sold a copy of the album to an undercover policeman. "I never imagined I'd be about to go to jail for selling a record," Freeman told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm just trying to earn an honest living down here. No judge should be allowed to dictate what kind of music an adult can listen to."

6. On May 7, 1992, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned the obscenity ruling. The appellate court argued that the 1990 trial failed to disprove the album's artistic value as required by the U.S. Supreme Court. "This isn't just a victory for 2 Live Crew," Campbell said after the ruling. "The entire music industry won big on this one."

7. The "As Clean as They Wanna Be" version included the song "Pretty Woman," a parody of Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman" that prompted the suit, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. Though Acuff-Rose Music denied 2 Live Crew's request to license "Oh, Pretty Woman," the rap group released its remake. The District Court ruled in 2 Live Crew's favor, stating that the parody was in accordance with fair use. However, the Supreme Court later reversed the decision and the parties reached a settlement out of court.

" data-embed-type="embedIframes">

" data-embed-type="embedIframes" data-yom-embed-source="{media_id_1:3bc68bd5-6875-3bec-a79a-6ebccbee5666}">

Follow Billy Johnson Jr. Facebook, Twitter.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Yahoo Hip Hop Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

More Song Stories entries »