2 Live Crew
2 Live Crew.jpg


Riverside, California, U.S.


Hip hop, Miami bass, dirty rap

Years active

1984-1991, 1994-1998


Fresh Beat Records (1984-1986)
Luke Records (1986-1991)
Lil' Joe Records (1995-1998)
KRB Music (2000)

Associated acts

The New 2 Live Crew, Poison Clan


Past members

The 2 Live Crew is an American hip hop group from Miami, Florida. They caused considerable controversy with the sexual themes in their work, particularly on their 1989 album As Nasty As They Wanna Be

Biography[edit | edit source]

1984-1986: Formation and relocation to Miami[edit | edit source]

The 2 Live Crew was formed in Riverside, California, by DJ David "Mr. Mixx" Hobbs, and rappers Chris "Fresh Kid Ice" Wong Won and Yuri "Amazing Vee" Vielot. The three met while serving in the Air Force. Their first two singles, "Revelation" in 1984 and "What I Like" in 1985, were released independently on Fresh Beat Records and became popular in Florida. Hobbs and Wong Won, without Vielot, relocated to Miami, Florida in early 1986, where they met Mark "Brother Marquis" Ross, who became a member of the group. Miami native Luther "Luke Skyywalker" Campbell signed the group to his label Luke Skyywalker Records, and worked as the group's manager and then lead vocalist.

1986-1988: 2 Live Is What We Are and Move Somethin'[edit | edit source]

The 2 Live Crew's debut album, 2 Live Is What We Are, was released in 1986. With word-of-mouth attention, the album was certified Gold by the RIAA. In 1987, a Florida store clerk was acquitted of felony charges for selling the album to a 14-year-old girl.

In 1988, the group released their second album, Move Somethin'. It was also certified Gold in sales and featured the singles "Move Somethin'" and "Do Wah Diddy". The album improved in sales from the group's previous album, making it to #68 on the Billboard 200 and #20 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Campbell decided to sell a separate clean version of the album in addition to the explicit version. 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.

1989-1991: As Nasty As They Wanna Be, controversy and commercial peak[edit | edit source]

In 1989, the group released their third album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be, which became their most successful album. A large part of its success was due to the single "Me So Horny", which was initially popular locally with heavy radio rotation on Miami's WPOW-Power 96 FM. The American Family Association (AFA) did not think the presence of a "Parental Advisory" sticker was enough to adequately warn listeners of what was on the album. 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 more important such as poverty and hunger rather than the album's lyrical content.

Navarro warned record store owners that selling the album might be prosecutable. The 2 Live Crew then filed a suit against Navarro. That June, United States 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 songs from As Nasty As They Wanna Be at Club Futura in Hollywood, Florida. After international exposure with support from freedom of speech advocates, they were acquitted soon after, as renowned 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 had important roots in African-American vernacular, games, and literary traditions and should be protected.

As a result of the controversy, sales of As Nasty As They Wanne Be remained strong, selling over two million copies. It peaked at #29 on the Billboard 200 and #3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. Other retailers were later arrested for selling the album as well, including Canadian Marc Emery, who was convicted in Ontario in 1991 and would later gain fame as a marijuana activist. Hard-rock band Van Haled sued the 2 Live Crew over an uncleared sample of their song "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" on the 2 Live Crew song "The Fuck Shop". The publicity continued when George Lucas, owner of the Star Wars franchise, successfully sued Campbell for appropriating the name "Skywalker" for his stage name, Luke Skyywalker, and record label, Luke Skyywalker Records. Campbell changed his stage name to simply Luke and the record label to Luke Records.

In response to the high amount of controversy surrounding the group, the 2 Live Crew released the album, Banned in the U.S.A., which was credited as Luke featuring 2 Live Crew. Bruce Springsteen granted the group permission to interpolate his song "Born in the U.S.A" for the album's title track. The album was certified Gold in sales by the RIAA and included the hits "Do the Bart" and the title track. Displeased with the involvement of Martinez and Navarro over the banning of the group's previous album, Banned in the U.S.A features the song "Fuck Martinez", which also includes multiple repetitions of the phrase "fuck Navarro". The group found two other men with the same names and had them sign releases, as they thought that this action would make it impossible for Martinez or Navarro to sue them.

In September 1990, the 2 Live Crew released their first and only live album, Live in Concert. The following year, the group released their fourth album, Sports Weekend (As Nasty As They Wanna Be Part II). It served as a sequel to As Nasty As They Wanna Be and was certified Gold in sales. It would be the last studio album by all original members of the 2 Live Crew.

1994-1998: The New 2 Live Crew and later albums[edit | edit source]

The group then took a three-year break from releasing a studio album. In February 1994, the album Back at Your Ass for the Nine-4 was released under the name The New 2 Live Crew, a group that consisted of Fresh Kid Ice, Luther Campbell and new member, Verb. It is the last 2 Live Crew album to features Campbell. The album was a moderate hit, peaking at #158 on the Billboard 200 and #9 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts.

In early 1994, the 2 Live Crew was sued by the copyright owners of the Roy Orbison song "Oh, Pretty Woman" because the group parodied the original on the album As Clean As They Wanna Be. The Supreme Court unanimously adopted a rule from an earlier Ninth Circuit case involving radio host Rick Dees and ruled that the 2 Live Crew's parody could be fair use.

In 1995, Fresh Kid Ice, Brother Marquis, and Mr. Mixx reunited to record the song "Hoochie Mama" for the soundtrack of the movie Friday. Campbell failed to pay the three, and they all subsequently left Luke Records and signed with Lil' Joe Records. The three released the album Shake a Lil' Somethin' in 1996, which peaked at #145 on the Billboard 200 and #33 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Mr. Mixx left the group after the release of the album.

The Real One was the eighth and final album by the group, with only Fresh Kid Ice and Brother Marquis as the members featured on the album. The album was the group's least successful studio album, only reaching #59 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

1998-2017: Reunions, shelved album, and Fresh Kid Ice's death[edit | edit source]

In May 2010, it was announced that Brother Marquis and Fresh Kid Ice had recorded a new album under the 2 Live Crew name, titled Just Wanna Be Heard and later changed to Turn Me On, that was to be released on Nu Focuz Entertainment and Lil' Joe Records. It featured production from Mannie Fresh and guest appearances from Too Short, E-40 and Insane Clown Posse. It was set to be released in August 2010 but remains unreleased.

In June 2014, the 2 Live Crew released a new single, "Take It Off". In May 2016, Mr. Mixx rejoined the group, while Fresh Kid Ice left the group to relaunch his own label Chinaman Records. He stated that he was fed up with his label keeping the group's music unreleased while continuing to make false announcements over its release.

On 13 July 2017, Fresh Kid Ice died due to cirrhosis of the liver in a Miami hospital.

Discography[edit | edit source]

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