Friday, July 10, 2020

"Wipeout!" by The Fat Boys and The Beach Boys

Song#:  3190
Date:  07/11/1987
Debut:  72
Peak:  12
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  This trio of Prince Markie Dee (Mark Morales), Kook Rock-Ski (Damon Wimbley), and Buff Love (Darren Robinson) first got together while attending the same junior high school in Brooklyn. Calling themselves The Disco 3, the trio sharpened their skills for a couple of years before entering into a big Coca-Cola-sponsored hip hop talent contest. The finals were held at Radio City Music Hall and The Disco 3 became the winners. The contest organizer ended up managing the teens and later on due to their physical statures renamed them The Fat Boys. The guys got hooked up with rapper Kurtis Blow who ended up producing their 1984 self-titled debut album. It ended up being a gold-selling success that got to #6 R&B/#48 Pop. A follow-up album, The Fat Boys Are Back, would be another gold record, but their third disc Big & Beautiful wasn't quite as well-received. Their manager thought the group could break through in a bigger way like Run-D.M.C. and came up with an idea to push them into the mainstream. He took a cue from Run-D.M.C.'s collaborative effort with Aerosmith, "Walk This Way," and got the Boys in the studio with the legendary Beach Boys. The two groups settled on doing a vocal version of the old instrumental hit "Wipe Out." It would be included on The Fat Boys' fourth album, Crushin'. The LP's first single, "Falling in Love," became their biggest entry at R&B to-date hitting #16. It was then that they decided to unleash their "Wipeout!" collaboration. It quickly became their first (and only) R&B Top 10 (#10). The tune then crossed over to the Pop chart where it nearly made the Top 10. The album would make it to #4 R&B/#8 Pop and reach platinum level sales. The hit was the major breakthrough the trio was looking for.

ReduxReview:  The Fat Boys were influential and always had a bit of a comedic side to their work, as did a lot of early hip hop artists. But at a time when other rappers were raising the stakes with stronger, more potent material, it seemed the Fat Boys got left behind and started to get tagged as a novelty rap act, thanks in part to this track and the Disorderlies film (see below). On the good side, they ended up with a big hit that brought them other opportunities. On the bad side, they got stuck repeating the formula, which pigeonholed them even further. Frankly, I hated this track when it came out. It was a goofy mashup of old school rap with an old school rock group (who's career was clinging to life at the time) on an old school surf song. I thought it was messy and unnecessary. I think perhaps they thought it would be a natural extension of "Walk This Way," but the problem was that Run-D.M.C.'s track was such a strong, inspired piece of work that it made this one seem like a parody. While others thought this was just a fun little lark to party to, I nearly considered it a step back for rap.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The basis for this song was the 1963 instrumental hit "Wipe Out" by The Surfaris. Their original version got to #2 on the Pop chart. The tune became popular again in 1966 and returned to the Pop chart where it got to #16.  2) Earlier in '87, The Fat Boys were hired on to star in a screwball comedy called Disorderlies, which would co-starred Oscar and Tony nominated actor Ralph Bellamy. The Boys had previously appeared in a couple of films, but this was the first one where they had the lead roles. Also hired in for a cameo appearance was The Beach Boys. It was on the set of the movie that The Fat Boys' manager introduced them to the other legendary Boys and planted the idea of a collaboration. The movie would be released in August of '87 and would be a modest hit.


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