Sunday, January 23, 2022

"Wild Thing" by Tone Lōc

Top 10 Alert!
Double Platinum Alert!
Song#:  3734
Date:  12/03/1988
Debut:  92
Peak:  2
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  Anthony Terrell Smith began rapping as a teenager in his home of West Los Angeles. Throughout high school and afterwards while holding jobs in real estate and computer programming, Smith continued to rap. While a career in music wasn't necessarily at the forefront of his mind, Smith kept on rapping and eventually he was heard by Matt Dike and Michael Ross. The pair had started their own indie label called Delicious Vinyl. Liking Smith unique husky rap voice, Dike and Ross signed Smith to the label. In 1987, they would work with Smith (now known as Tone Lōc) on his first single, the double-sided "On Fire/Cheeba Cheeba." It garnered good attention and so Dike and Ross began to work up and album with Tone Lōc. By the fall of '88, they were ready to release the new single "Wild Thing." The song suddenly began to take off and started to climb the Pop, R&B, and Dance charts. Eventually, it would reach #2 Pop, #3 R&B, and #1 Dance. The single would sell so well that it would go double-platinum, which was a rare feat at the time. It was also the first rap single to reach that level. A debut album, Lōc-ed After Dark, would follow in January of '89. It would eventually reach #1 and in doing so would become the second rap album to reach the top 10 of Pop chart (Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill was the first). Within a short period of time, Tone Lōc went from obscurity to stardom.

ReduxReview:  This song was all over the place back in the day. Any bar, party, gathering, etc., you went to, this track got played. It was also ever-present on the radio. I was irritated because I didn't like the tune. I didn't like Tone Lōc's rapping, I thought the wink-wink lyrics were borderline novelty and juvenile, and I was bothered by the use of the Van Halen samples. It didn't help that the song's video basically was a rip off of the Robert Palmer series of vids. I ignored the track as much as one could. Time and knowledge makes you look at things differently and these days the song doesn't bother me as much. The production with the use of the VH samples was pretty ingenious. The snippets made the groove very cool and memorable and it is most likely was helped the song become so popular upon release. I'm still not a fan of Lōc's rap or cheeky lyrics, but both pushed the song into party territory, which helped it become a mainstream hit. I can tolerate the tune and even have fun with it in the right circumstances, but it is still not one that I'd see out.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This was another song that got caught in the sampling issues from the 80s. "Wild Thing" contains samples from Van Halen's "Jamie's Cryin'." That song appeared on the band's 1978 self-titled debut album. Although it was not officially released as a single, it became a staple on US rock radio stations.  For "Wild Thing," producers Matt Dike decided to lift Eddie Van Halen's guitar lick from "Jamie's Cryin'" along with some drum lines for use in the track. Stories vary on what happened regarding the samples, but it seems that Van Halen's management, without the band's knowledge, okay'd use of the samples for a small flat rate, figuring that the track by an unknown rapper wouldn't get far. But then the song exploded all over the place with both Eddie and Alex Van Halen hearing it. With the tune making millions, the Van Halen's chose to file a civil suit regarding the use of the samples. The case was apparently settled out of court for about $180k. 


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