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|The 2 Live Crew|
|Origin||Miami, Florida, U.S.|
|Genres||Hip hop, Miami Bass|
|Years active||1985–1991, 1994–1998|
|Labels||Fresh Beat / Macola Records
Luke Records Lil Joe Records
Fresh Kid Ice Mr. Mixx Amazing V. Brother Marquis Verb
The 2 Live Crew was created by DJ Mr. Mixx (David Hobbs) with fellow rappers Fresh Kid Ice (Chris Wong Won), and Amazing V. (Yuri Vielot). The group released its first single, "Revelation", in 1985. "Revelation" was popular in Florida, so The 2 Live Crew (sans Amazing V) relocated to Miami. Rapper Brother Marquis (Mark Ross) joined The 2 Live Crew for its next single "What I Like". Local rapper Luke (Luther Campbell) gave The 2 Live Crew a record deal and worked as the group's manager and then lead vocalist. The 2 Live Crew's debut album, The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are, was released in 1986. Alex Henderson of allmusic commented that the album "did take sexually explicit rap lyrics to a new level of nastiness", with tracks such as "We Want Some Pussy" and "Throw The 'D'". With word-of-mouth attention, the album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In 1987, a Florida store clerk was charged and acquitted of felony charges for selling the album to a 14-year-old girl.
Campbell decided to sell a separate clean version in addition to the explicit version of the next album, Move Somethin' (1988), produced by Mr. Mixx. A record store clerk in Alexander City, Alabama, was cited for selling a copy to an undercover police officer in 1988. It was the first time in the United States that a record store owner was held liable for obscenity over music. The charges were dropped after a jury found the record store not guilty.
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 despite little radio rotation. 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 some material from the album at a nightclub. 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.
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, As Nasty As They Wanna Be sold over two million copies. It peaked anumber 29 on the Billboard 200 and number 3 on the Top R&B/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 Fuck 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 USA, 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.
1994 saw Luke, Fresh Kid Ice and a new addition to the group, Verb, regrouping as The New 2 Live Crew, issuing Back at Your Ass for the Nine-4. This album peaked at number 52 on the Billboard 200 and number 9 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The New 2 Live Crew broke up in 1995.Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.
During this time the lawsuit brought about by the copyright owners of "Oh, Pretty Woman," went to the Supreme Court. The Crew had parodied the original on the album As Clean As They Wanna Be without permission. The Supreme Court adopted a rule from an earlier Ninth Circuit case involving Rick Dees, and ruled that The 2 Live Crew's parody could be fair use.
Luke, Fresh Kid Ice, Brother Marquis and Mr. Mixx re-formed again to record "Hoochie Mama" for the soundtrack to the movie Friday. Plans to reunite for an album were short-lived, as 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). It peaked at number 145 on the Billboard 200, also peaking at number 33 on the Top R&B/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/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.
Fresh Kid Ice and Brother Marquis, around 2008, 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 currently the release date is unknown.