Blast From the Past: 2 Live Crew - Banned in the USA

Blast From the Past is a weekly column on Crossfade re-examining classic releases from Florida music of yesteryear. To read previous installments, click here.
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2 Live Crew
Banned in the USA
(Luke Records)

Well, it was bound to happen within these pages: 2 Live Crew. It would be downright irresponsible to revisit South Florida's musical past without touching upon this controversial and polarizing group. And while this would be their fourth full-length album and an unlikely first entry for them in this series, I tend to go with my personal recollections and experiences and this one, in full raunchy glory goes down January of 1991 and involves my fourteen year old ass vacationing in Miami, getting dropped off at a movie theatre in West Kendall and sucking on some titties. Which I'm sure would've been approved of by Luke "Skyywalker" Campbell, Fresh Kid Ice, Mr. Mixx and Brother Marquis.

Everybody knows that this album was technically a response to the arduous litigation they suffered for their third album, 1989's As Nasty As They Wanna Be and that the most "responsive" responses were the title track and the humorous send-up of former Governor of Florida Bob Martinez and former Broward County sheriff Nick Navarro, "Fuck Martinez." You can't even begin to believe how delighted I was to see this! Up to that point in time, the only musical raunch I knew came from Los Hombres G and La Polla Records. But this begins meeting a friend from who was also vacationing in Miami at the West Kendall movie theatre (currently a DSW Shoe Warehouse) to watch Edward Scissorhands which had come out that winter.

Needless to say, my hormones and her braces were no match and we started in on the regular type of stupid making-out and coy kissing kids do at that age and though to my credit I did try to put my hands down her Guess jeans, to her credit she blocked off my advances with what was undoubtedly some type of femme martial art. Not severely interested in the works of Tim Burton at the time, we kept with the kissing, plus the movie wasn't subtitled and my English wasn't very good at the time, and there, when Edward falls from grace, she unbuttons her blouse and puts my hand on her tits. I've often wondered why she didn't fend my mouth off and since then, nipples have been little poems for my lips.

After the movie we went over to the record store that used to be in that mall (currently either a pet store or a Bed, Bath and Beyond) to check out some records. I had not been exposed to the rap thing but I had heard about the 2 Live Crew obscenity trials and their feud with Floridian elected officials so when I saw this tape [yes, cassette tape] on the rack I pulled it out and read the tracks. And as bad as my English was at the time, many things came through, loud and clear. "Fuck Martinez," "Strip Club," "Face Down, Ass Up" and "Mamolapenga." I wasn't sure what the "parental advisory" sticker on the cover meant, but on to the counter I went, paid and walked right out. She got Franco De Vita's Extranjero and I remember that, not so much because of the sexual experience, but because he looks like Al Pacino on the cover.

I must've played that tape a thousand times and I don't mean the whole tape because I did develop some reservations towards some of the tracks and I never (still haven't) fully understood the necessity for "skits" and "intros" interspersed throughout an album, but then again, what the Hell do I know, right? I spent entire afternoons rewinding and fast-forwarding amongst the aforementioned tracks and the super clean but still somewhat suggestive and totally capitalizing on the Bart Simpson fad, "Do the Bart" which I've been told since was some type of dance that may or may not be a precursor to the ass-clap. Always loved the Santana sample on "Mamolapenga" and the saucy Latina trying to fight off the black cock and the Bruce Springsteen approved "Banned in the USA," which detailed their suffering in Florida courts over Freedom of Speech.

I don't know what happened to that girl, but I remember her breasts fondly. And while I was never sure about certain aspects of the album, I'll try to clarify them now with an open invitation for Luke to rectify, since he is now a New Times columnist. First, this was originally credited as Luke's first solo album, featuring the 2 Live Crew. Second: I've seen a number of covers for the album, one with a girl posed like Springsteen, another with the whole group, but the cover above corresponds to the cassette edition that I purchased, would've scanned mine if I hadn't lost the tape many moons ago. Thirdly, while I've seen various track listings here and there, I distinctly recall my tape having twenty-five tracks listed and being released by Luke Records but I've also seen presses by Little Joe Records and Atlantic/WEA.

Was I emboldened to step into the 2 Live Crew fray because of the first time I sucked a woman's breasts? The smells of buttery popcorn and her perfume? Or did my hard-on prevent me from acting with a little more decorum and class? Bottom line is, had we not met that afternoon, I probably would've never bought this album, and for that I thank her, wherever she may be. Check out the video below, my friend and ex-coworker Alfredo P. is actually in the courtroom scenes with the crew, he's the skinny white-boy behind the lawyers.


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