Tonight, the prime minister of posteriors Sir Mix-A-Lot plays a $5 show at the Observatory. While we’re as excited as anybody to see a set that’s long, strong and down to get the friction on, there’s much more to Sir Mix-A-Lot and his legacy than “Baby Got Back.”
Not to understate what an important record “Baby Got Back” was both commercially and culturally, but the Seattle MC wasn’t just some overnight sensation by any means. With a half-decade of output prior to that single, and two decades since, there’s no shortage of reasons to dial 1-800-MIXALOT and hear him kick some nasty rhymes. In anticipation of tonight, we present Five Sir Mix-A-Lot classics that have nothing to do with butts.
“Posse on Broadway” 1988
It’s funny to think in the four years before “Baby Got Back,” some rap listeners erroneously labeled Sir Mix-A-Lot a one hit wonder based on how huge his breakout single “Posse on Broadway” was. Rap as a genre has always been most compelling as the product of regional influence to realize a grand vision, and “Posse On Broadway” is that taken to an extreme. With hyper-localized references so subtle only Seattle residents will realize that they’re jokes (the Taco Bell mentioned as being closed famously was never open but for some reason had an “Open 24 Hours” sign always lit) the spirit of the record captures the type of hometown pride where anyone and their posse can relate. Also notable is how this song popularized the “Mix-A-Lot flow,” which generations of rappers continue to casually emulate (our favorite being Juvenile and BG’s “What’s Happenin”) showing just how influential Sir Mix-A-Lot has been.
“Iron Man” 1988
Sir Mix-A-Lot’s no stranger to working with rock acts. In fact, some of his most popular collaborations in the ’90s were with bands such as Mudhoney (on the Judgment Night soundtrack, no less) as Presidents of the United States of America. But he’d been sampling rock artists for much longer, including his excellent take on Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.” It’s fun to imagine exact what Mix-A-Lot’s thought process was like penning the rhyne “this is real, not drama / hate pet llamas / met Clint Eastwood, slapped his Momma!”
Off of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s second album Seminar, “Beepers” is a track thatis a testament to what a time capsule hip-hop can be. While some listeners may write it off as dated, “Beepers” is an excellent complete breakdown of what life with a beeper was like. From how they’re supposed to look, to how to use them, to even sampling the actual Skypager voice millions would have to endure to properly send a page decades ago, it’s live reporting from the late ’80s at its finest. As much as technology has changed since then, “Beepers” still knocks. The song is also the perfect way to explain the paging device to anyone born after they were popular, which is anyone presently college age and younger.
While Sir Mix-A-Lot followed his “Baby Got Back”-anchored mega smash Mack Daddy album with a similarly body-part centric single in “Put ‘Em On The Glass” to lead 1994’s Chief Boot Knocka, we at the Weekly prefer the album’s other single “Ride.” We’re not alone in that opinion either, as “Ride” became a favorite clip of MTV’s most discerning critics Beavis and Butthead. Charged by what sounds like a reinterploration of Paul McCartney’s groundbreaking 70s single “Temporary Secretary,” Mix-A-Lot’s flow plays to the favorite elements of 90s techno perfectly. Even those who laughed at or with “Baby Got Back” can’t deny “Ride” is uncompromisingly cool.
“My Big Cups” 2006
Sir Mix-A-Lot’s remained an active crowd-pleasing performer for years, and it’s always fun to see him resurface as he did in a 2006 episode of comedy duo Tim and Eric’s “Tom Goes to the Mayor.” Reprising his comedic timing, “My Big Cups” brings up the serious question as to why no other products or brands have tapped Mix-A-Lot for jingle purposes, as this commercial has us thirsty for a beverage that doesn’t even exist.