2 Live Crew’s As Nasty as They Wanna Be introduced the big butt-thong combo to hip-hop album art and turned a Full Metal Jacket line into a global mantra for horny teenagers. But it was in the courtroom where the group — who inspired lawsuits from both George Lucas and Roy Orbison and were targeted by Florida’s Governor Bob Martinez in an unprecedented clampdown on obscene lyrics — really made their mark. The Miami bass pioneers twice took their case to the Supreme Court and twice won, successfully securing the right to peddle explicit lyrics and parody other artists.
More than 23 years after outspoken hypeman Uncle Luke parted ways with rappers Fresh Kid Ice (Chris Wong Won) and Brother Marquis (Mark Ross), the trio are joining forces for a tour beginning in Jacksonville on May 9th. In their first joint interview in over two decades, the guys that first made the South dirty discuss their legal battles, military origins and groundbreaking independent hustle.
It’s been over 30 years since the first 2 Live Crew record and more than 25 years since As Nasty as They Wanna Be. What do you remember most about that period?
Uncle Luke: One of my most memorable moments was winning the Supreme Court case against Acuff-Rose. That was a hard-fought battle. There was a lot of things said about us, and we personally felt the description everybody was giving of the group was totally wrong. We were just guys doing music — having fun and saying the same things everybody else was saying but saying them on records — and we were singled out. Winning that case was the high point for me in my life, other than having my kids.
A lot of people don’t realize that 2 Live Crew wasn’t formed in Miami but on an Air Force base in Riverside, California. Of the original members, did anyone on the base know you were making music?
Fresh Kid Ice: Just a few people. We were sneaking out on weekends, going to Miami to do shows. We did it undercover. Or I did, anyhow.
What would have happened if the Air Force knew you were doing rap records?
Fresh Kid Ice: I probably could have been prosecuted because a lot of times I was out of the range of reach. In case there’s a recall in an emergency, I’m supposed to be able to get back to the base quickly.
Luke, you first got involved with 2 Live Crew as a promoter and DJ, and were responsible for bringing them to Miami. What about their music appealed to you?
Uncle Luke: It fit the type of music that my DJ group, Ghetto Style DJs, was playing. It was dance music, it was uptempo. We were bringing these acts down to Miami and eventually we evolved into opening our own teen disco, Pac-Jam. At the time, the guys were getting out of the service.