2 Live Crew PhotoFORMED: 1986

This Florida rap band was organized, supervised, and conceived by Luther Campbell -- a promoter, record label owner, and rapper -- as an updated version of old-school, X-rated party performers. Campbell's production uses heavy doses of booming synthesized bass, scratching effects, samples, and explicit sex raps and leers. From their beginnings in 1986, the notoriety of Campbell and the group grew in direct proportion to the lewdness of the material. As their songs attained more national prominence, Campbell had become part of a national controversy involving censorship and lyrics. The 2 Live Crew's success took a nosedive in the '90s. They continued recording for Luke Records but didn't score as much success with such releases as Move Somethin' and Sports Weekend.

Founder Luther Campbell issued both clean and dirty versions in an effort to defuse criticism, but the 2 Live Crew's detractors moved on to gangsta-rap and the group's releases in the early '90s were almost ignored. They resurfaced in 1994 as a re-grouped 2 Live Crew, releasing Back at Your Ass for the Nine-4. Campbell also announced plans to start a men's magazine in either 1994 or 1995; the venture never materialized.Back at Your Ass for the Nine 4 did well briefly, peaking at number nine on the R&B chart. But the group's brand of X-rated humor seemed almost tame compared to the mix of explicit sex and violence available on more hardcore gangsta-rap sessions, while Jamaican toasters such as Shabba Ranks and the Mad Cobra outdistanced the group in creative lewdness.

Nevertheless, the 2 Live Crew continued to tour and record, following Back at Your Ass for the Nine-4 with 1996's Shake a Lil' Something, which failed to gain much attention. Luther Campbell left the band shortly afterward, but the group continued to move forward, releasing The Real One in the spring of 1998. ~ Ron Wynn, All Music Guide