The Fat Boys Are Back
Takin’ it back old school, like, REAL old school. The Fat Boys were one of the most talked about hip-hop groups of the 1980s.
With every kid in town huffing and puffing trying to mimic the beatbox stylings of the late-great Big Buff Love, and doing that silly Wipeout dance move, it’s hard to digest (pun intended) that this threesome were only 20 years old when they vaulted to stardom. According to their website the Fat Boys really are back.
And you know they can never never be whack.
Interview reproduced from Ebony Magazine, February 1988:
Fat For Fun And Profit
Pound for pound, the Fat Boys are the weightiest act on the rap scene
The name suits them well. The Fat Boys are fat. They don’t apologize for it. In fact, they flaunt it. And poking fun at their own enormity — nearly 1,000 pounds between the three of them — has netted the Brooklyn-bred rappers more fame and fortune than they ever imagined.
In the last five years, the Fat Boys have parlayed their fat-is-beautiful image, their youthful pranksterism and their “beat box” percussive voicings into a distinct rap style. It is a style that has earned them two platinum and two gold albums, video and film acclaim and annual incomes of well over $300,00 each. It also has allowed them to move to more upscale Queens residences. And their zany versatility keeps their fans wondering what’s next. A cartoon celebrating their size and slapstick antics is to premier in the fall. And an odd paring with the Beach Boys after a chance meeting in Houston produced Wipeout, their most successful single.
These “Three Stooges of Rap” – Mark (Prince Markie Dee) Morales, 20, Darren (Human Beat Box) Robinson, 20, and Damon (Kook Rock) Wimbley, 21 — have endeared a strong crossover audience from Dallas tenements to Boston brownstones. Despite their performances with canned background vocal tracks, the Fat Boys present a glitzy display of lights, light-hearted lyrical works, outrageous beachwear and showmanship. They temper the “bad boy” image of hip hop with comic relief on stage and off. During a European tour, Robinson revved up his “beat box,” forcing a smile from a stone-faced Buckingham Palace guard.
“They are the biggest pains you will ever meet in your life and, yet, they are the loveliest guys you will ever meet because they crack you up all of the time,” says Charles Stettler, president of Tin Pan Apple management-record firm. He discovered the trio — then the Disco 3 — at a Radio City Music Hall rap contest in 1983. The Fat Boys were saddled with their name after devouring $350 in extra hotel breakfast helpings shortly after winning the Coca-Cola-sponsored contest and recording contract.
The three consider their success a fairy tale. However, Stettler says he was convinced of the group’s potential after hearing the Music Hall audience’s uproarious response to Robinson’s combination bass drum-kazoo back up to Morales’ and Wimbley’s rap. Robinson, the trio’s musical arranger, developed the percussive vocal technique because his family could not afford to buy him a drum set.
The Fat Boys were spawned by the urban rhythms of the cluttered and desolate streets of Brooklyn. The three grew up houses apart in a neighborhood in which it is hard to elude territorial disputes, drugs and despair. “God blessed us. We were doing what we could to get into trouble.” Wimbley says of the trio’s adolescent capers. “God blessed me,” Morales chimes in. “They [Wimbley and Robinson] just happened to be around.”
They chide each other about getting suspended from school for food fights and for creating near-riotous disturbances with with Robinson’s rhythms and their rap rhymes. But after viewing the body of a friend who was killed in a fight at a local arcade, Wimbley says he and his partners resolved to improve their lot. Sharing a genuine dislike for school, however, the trio first thought sports would be their ticket. They turned to rap when cutting up got them suspended from football teams.
The titan-size threesome first rejected the name Fat Boys. “We didn’t like it,” says Robinson, whose girth is nearly twice that of his cohorts. The tag went against the “I’m Bad” image endemic to rap. And their music intially was of the typical “message rap” variety. It took the friendly urging of their rap hero and then producer Kurtis Blow for the Fat Boys to warm to the idea that they could capitalize on their sizes. In 1984, their premier album, Fat Boys, earned them a platinum record, with 500,000 sales in six weeks and more than 500,00 sales later. Their first film, Krush Groove, a biographical rap musical that co-starred Sheila E. grossed $11.4 million.
Mention the word diet to the Fat Boys and you are liable to be crushed. The trio is still a little sensitive about their size. They admit to being far from their football training weights, but say little else about their poundage. Parents and girlfriends try to force-feed vegetables to the trio, who searched Europe for Big Macs.
They’re angry about the fighting that erupts at some rap concerts, and being banned by radio stations that suggest that rap music promotes violence and teen sex. “We promote fun,” Robinson says. “We see things go on in the streets, hear people talking at parties. That’s what we rap about. We talk about how bad we could be. We talk about girls bombing [ditching] us.”
The three hope their comedic versatility will lead to future film, video and recording successes. Their last film, Disorderlies, features the trio portraying bungling disorderlies who teach actor Ralph Bellamy, who plays a millionaire, how to rap. It grossed more than $10 million. A third film, a horror comedy, is expected to showcase their distinct personalities when released near Christmas.
Other than taking speech lessons, they don’t plan to alter their image. The socially conscious youths will continue to participate in homeless and anti-apartheid benefits address high school groups with an anti-drug message, and occasionally produce songs such as Protect Yourself to drive home cautions about unwanted pregnancy and disease. Says Morales, who spends much of his spare time with his 1 1/2 year old son: “A lot of 14- and 15-year old girls come to us for autographs for their daughters. If they don’t listen to their parents they might listen to us.”