Saturday, November 26, 2005

2 Live Crew - 2 Controversial

One of the first rap groups I ever got into was the 2 Live Crew, all the hype behind the "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" album made me get a dub from someone and I loved it. I remember in the school holidays turning on T.V. around mid-day and seeing Luke on the Donahue show and not long after my brother grabbed the "Banned In The U.S.A." video. It wasn't until then I realised how controversial the group was.

The 2 Live crew originally was just Fresh Kid Ice, Mr Mixx and Amazing V. They were a Californian group who had a Miami fan base which led them to go and tour there. At the time Luther Campbell was a member of a DJ group called the "Ghetto Style DJ's" he used to just drive the equipment van before becoming not only a member but, the head DJ. He then started doing radio spots and other promo shit for them and was also the manager. His DJ name was "Luke Skywalker" with the catch phrase "he had the force". Luke was soon known for his local parties and a record producer paid Luke to do a track about a dance done at his parties called the "Ghetto Jump" which made Luke want to start doing the same.

When 2 Live went up to Miami without member Amazing V they hooked up with Florida resident Brother Marquis who became the replacing member. While doing a show in Miami at a Luke promoted party Fresh Kid Ice said a line about Luke Skywalker and everybody thought that Luke was also a member. With all the hype surrounding them, Luke became the 2 Live Crew's manager and released their first single (with Luke) called "Throw The Dick" (later changed to "Throw The D") and with the money Luke made from this record Luther Campbell started his own record label called "Luke Skywalker Records" and they released the 1986 classic "Is What We Are".

A record retailer in Sarasota, Florida was prosecuted after he was caught selling the record to a 14 year old girl. There were also a couple of other cases at the time of retailers caught selling "Is What We Are" to juveniles. After hearing about the cases Luke decided to start doing two versions of their albums from then on. In 1988 the 2 Live Crew released "Move Somethin" with both an explicit and a clean version made. Another record retailer in Alabama was fined after selling a copy to an undercover cop although I'm not sure of the reason as the album wasn't banned and being a cop he obviously wasn't under age?

In 1989, 2 Live Crew released one of the most controversial albums ever recorded called "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" trouble started shortly after it was released with the American Family Association, who were not happy with the album just having the parental advisory sticker. Former pro golfer and hardcore religious man turned lawyer Jack Thompson didn't like what he heard and decided to fax copies of the lyrics to all the sheriffs offices, police chiefs, prosecuters and all the media in Florida to try to ban the album. Florida governer Bob Martinez requested the state prosecuter to investigate the group. Broward County sheriff Nick Navarro got a copy of the album and secured a ruling from County Circuit Court judge Mel Groussman that there was probable cause that "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" was legally obscene. Navarro warned all local record retailers in the area that selling the album may lead to them being prosecuted.

The 2 Live Crew filed a lawsuit against Navarro for unconstitutionally overstepping his bounds. As all this was happening the media was going crazy over the case and made alot of young kids curious of it go out and buy, steal or dub a copy, on the video "Banned In The U.S.A." there is footage of Pamela Harnley from the Concerned Women For America group going on about how obscene the album is and she starts running off the stats that the album contains 226 references of the word "fuck",117 mentioning of genitalia, 87 mentions of oral sex, 163 uses of "bitch",15 mentions of "hoe", 81 "shits", mentions group sex a measley 4 times and chucks in a mention of incest for good measure. Pamela Harney also accuses them of over a dozen references to violent sex and incredably says "womens lives are being shredded and childrens lives are being destroyed".

The 2 Live Crew found it hard to be able to perform shows with each city they visited refusing to let them perform and anti-sexist groups protesting out the front of shows they were allowed to do. In Dallas, Texas after the city tried their hardest to prevent a 2 Live Crew show the Long Horn Ballroom got a restraining order to allow the group to perform, although the clubs policy is to pay after the performance and the groups policy to perform after they get paid and after a standstill with the owner and the fans chanting the club to pay the group. Luke, Marquis, Fresh Kid and Mr Mixx left and the place went crazy. Every chair and table were destroyed windows smashed and a handfall of shaking security was all that was left. (footage on the video)

2 Live Condoms -- VHS -- Comic Book

On June 10 1990, judge Jose Gonzalez ruled that "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" was legally obscene and illegal to sell. A record retailer was arrested two days later for selling the album (he was later acquitted) and a 2 Live Crew show in Florida at the "Futura Club" was raided by police and three members were arrested on obscenity charges for perfoming songs from the album, they were acquitted a few months later.

At this stage the entire world knew about the case, Luke appeared on both the Donahue show and Geraldo, the story was on the front page of "Time" magazine and plenty of other musicians were coming forward in the groups defence including Bruce Springsteen. Alot of people were claiming that the 2 Live Crew should have been protected by the first ammendment of freedom of speach. I don't think that Star Wars creator George Lucas was one of those people because decided to sue Luther Campbell over copyright infringments for the use of his "Skywalker" name. Luke paid Lucas $300,000 in damages.

In 1992 the court appeals in Atlanta overturned Jose Gonzalez's decision to ban "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" mainly due to the fact that Gonzalez refused to allow an expert testimony on community standards stating that he knew community standards after living in the community for over 30 years. The other reason being that the burden of proof of obscenity should have been left up to sheriff Navarro who submitted no evidence to the case other than a copy of the album.

In 1994 Acuff Rose Music inc took the 2 Live Crew to court over it's use of the Roy Orbinson parody for the "Oh, Pretty Woman" song that the group uses on the Move Somthin' album in '88 on "Do Wah Diddy" apparently the group asked Acuff Rose Music if the could use it and were denied before they used it anyway. They took it all the way to the supreme court making headlines every where before the courts ruled that the parody was used in "fair use". MC Shy D, a former artist on Luke Records also sued Luke for 1.6 million in royalties.

In 1990 the 2 Live Crew released the album "Banned In The U.S.A." with the title track all about the drama they went through in the previous year with a Springsteen type "Born In The U.S.A." hook.

In 1996 Luke was charged after holding a women (from the crowd at a show) down and throwing her back into the audience knocking her unconscious. In Dorchester County, South Carolina Luke was on nudity charges when a girl from the audience claimed that she was dragged onto stage against her will and forced to strip. Prosecutor Walter Bailey said "That might go over in South Beach or wherever he's from, but it's not going to fly in Dorchester County," Police rejected her claim stating she was a willing participant.

At the end of the day 2 Live Crew's "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" that sold over 2 million copies will always be the first record ever to be found legally obscene by a federal judge. There was plenty more controversy involving the group although, most of it was between each other over money, and plenty of albums were recorded with different line ups but, most will remember them for their early releases.

2 Live Crew - Banned In The U.S.A.
2 Live Crew - Me So Horny


bill said...

Do anyone else notice that when rappers gave shout outs to 2 Live that they would never mention Fresh Kid Ice (the asian one)??

I did, but thats probaly coz I'm half Asian.

BULLANT said...

To be honest I havn't really noticed but I do think they deserve alot more respect than they get. They had a huge part to do with the way rappers today can say pretty much what they want on records (unless there pussy whipped by there label). Winning that court case has made politicians think twice before trying to ban something.