Compared to the all too prevalent mean mugging, tough scowling stance of today's typical hip-hop star, the popular 1980's rap group The Fat Boys (Prince Markie Dee, Kool Rock-Ski, Buff Love) were polar opposites with their smiling, all-ages friendly personas (not to mention lyrics) and cuddly, good humored personalities. From right when the NYC trio burst onto the still burgeoning hip-hop scene in 1984, they embodied a wholesome, non-threatening image to accompany their instantly engaging beatbox driven rap style. In fact, the late Buff Love, aka The Human Beatbox, was a hip-hop pioneer in beatboxing along Doug E. Fresh, who simultaneously helped popularize the mouth percussion style unique to the genre.
But barely below the surface there was also a somewhat sinister aspect to the Fat Boys-- they were exploited (or allowed themselves to be) by labels and marketing men who went overboard, playing up their obesity and downplaying the seriousness of not eating healthily. Obesity tragically led to the 1995 heart attack death of Buff Love/The Human Beatbox at age 28, by then reportedly weighing 450 lbs. Below are a selection of videos from the 80's that in a way tell the Fat Boys story, displaying the marketing of the group. Included are the videos "Jailhouse Rap" and "Stick Em" from their 1984 self-titled debut on Sutra Records, an album whose cover picture (above) showed them stuffing down pizza and ice cream. This food-gorging image was only further enforced in such videos as "All You Can Eat" from the 1987 film Krush Groove and their appearance on Square One TV eating too many burgers. Also below is the group's cameo in Miami Vice when they were not eating, but instead were portrayed as beatboxing drug dealers.
Another distinguishing aspect of the Fat Boys' music was their frequent cover versions or reinterpretations of bygone hits. One such cover was their interpretation of the Beatles' "Baby You're A Rich Man" in the 1987 film Disorderlies in which the trio also starred. Other covers include their 1987 take of The Surfaris' hit "Wipe Out" with The Beach Boys supplying back-up vocals, and their version of "The Twist" featuring Chubby Checker, who had recorded the song back in 1960. These two covers are included below. For info on the two surviving members, reporetedly about to make a full fledged comeback, visit the official Fat Boys website.
Fat Boys "Stick Em" (1984)
Fat Boys "Jailhouse Rap" (1984)
Fat Boys' Square One TV (1987)
Fat Boys "All You Can Eat" (Krush Groove) (1987)
The Fat Boys "The Twist" (feat. Chubby Checker) (1988)
The Fat Boys feat. Beach Boys "Wipeout" (1987)
Fat Boys' brief cameo in "Florence Italy" episode of Miami Vice TV show (1986)