Today in hip-hop history we celebrate over 25 years of laughter with the debut of the hit show Martin. One of Bad Boy Records' leading men celebrates a birthday and more.
1961 - Yolanda Adams is Born
On this day in 1961, Houston, TX native Yolanda Adams was born. Adams, who is the oldest of six children, is known as the "Queen of Contemporary Gospel Music" and the "First Lady of Modern Gospel." In 2009, Billboard named her the No. 1 Gospel Artist of the last decade. In the same chart, her album Mountain High...Valley Low was acknowledged as the best gospel album, lasting thirty-two weeks at No. 1 on the Top Gospel charts. The album is still Adams' best-selling to date, with more than 2,374,000 copies, becoming double Platinum. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album.
Yolanda currently hosts "The Yolanda Adams Morning Show" on Radio One."Gospel has moved with the times, just like any other music," she said to The Washington Post. "Technology, with its loops and synthesizers, changes the music around you, but it doesn't change how you sing. The music is different, but the message is the same."
1972 - Ma$e is born
Also, from a family of six children, Mason Durrell Betha aka Ma$e was born along with his twin sister, Stasson on this day. The Harlem rapper was already a household name with cameos on hit singles like “Can't Nobody Hold Me Down," "Honey," and "Mo Money, Mo Problems," before he released his debut album in 1997. His first album Harlem World debuted at No. 1 on Billboard 200 and was nominated for a Grammy. Over the years, the album has been certified quadruple Platinum, selling well over 4 million copies.
According to MTV News, in an April 1999 statement, the rapper said his retirement was "effective immediately" and that he would only do spoken word engagements to promote the album. His sophomore album Double Up was set to drop two months later in June. Soon after, he attended Clark Atlanta University and became an ordained minister studying under Pastor Jonathon Carter of Siloam Baptist Church in East Atlanta. After five years of retirement, Ma$e returned in 2004 with Welcome Back. The project marked the beginning of a new, clean-cut Ma$e, who found success with the singles "Welcome Back" and "Breathe, Stretch, Shake." Shortly after that in 2005, Ma$e signed to 50 Cent's G-Unit Records and released the mixtape 10 Years of Hate, before returning to the church later that year. Back in 2014, Ma$e abandoned his church, El Elyon International Church, six months after filing divorce from his wife Twyla.
In an interview with VLAD TV, comedian Nick Cannon spoke about attending Ma$e’s church:
"The man was speaking the truth, he was giving that word, and I’m like, ‘Oh, this is Ma$e.’ I’m sitting up, and he’s preaching the gospel, and he’s catching the spirit and speaking in tongues," he said. "It was happening I was with him – where sh*t got murky for me and Ma$e is my man but when you come back, and it’s like, even the 'Welcome Back,' I’m with you. I believe you can do both. But when you come back killing n***as and you back on your Murda sh*t? You’re wilding my n***a. … What is the light you’re shining on what you believe is the true essence of the true gospel? So now what is that worth because if you claim — he made statements in his book that he changed his life and he will never go back, and that’s dark, and I understand everyone has growth, but you were making judgmental statements, and now you’re back doing the same thing. Either you’re telling me what you believe is false or that your character is false and we gotta have a conversation about that."
1986 - Mario is born
Today Baltimore native, Mario Dewar Barrett is born. The young star broke out in the early 2000s with his debut album Mario and lead single “Just A Friend 2002,” inspired by Biz Markie's 1989 single, "Just A Friend." His follow up singles like “Braid My Hair” and “C’mon” helped Mario’s career, leading to performances on Bow Wow’s tour as well as the Scream Tour 3.
The track “Do Right,” a promotional single and released the same day as his third album Go, was dedicated to his mother, Shawntia Hardaway. The song did not chart due to it being a promotional single I Won't Love You to Death: The Story of Mario and His Mom, an MTV documentary on the singer’s relationship with his mother and her drug addiction. Unfortunately, she passed in 2017, the cause of death has remained hidden from public knowledge.
In an exclusive interview with us, Mario discussed what he believes is needed to push R&B culture forward. "Make it culturally relevant. Don't just talk about love; make it more introspective," he said. "When I'm making an album, I'm thinking, 'Is this going to play five years from now? How can I make music that lives on?' R&B in a traditional sense is one those things that lives on forever, but the artists who've [enjoyed] the most success are always on the cusp of the shift."
1991 - Biz Markie's I Need a Haircut Lands Him in Legal Trouble
Five years after Mario was born, Biz Markie released his third studio album; I Need a Haircut. The record was a minor success, peaking at No. 113 on the Billboard 200. The album’s twelfth track “Alone Again” changed the hip-hop industry when songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan and his record label sued Biz and his record label, Warner Bros. Records, for copyright infringement.
Biz's "Alone Again" samples the piano riff and hook from O'Sullivan's track of the same name. When Warner Bros. attempted to clear the sample, O'Sullivan denied it. However, Warner released the song anyway, and unlike De La Soul's $1.7 million settlement with '60s rock band The Turtles, this lawsuit did not settle out of court. A judge found Markie and Warner Bros. guilty of copyright infringement and barred the song and the album from being sold. Markie was ordered to pay O'Sullivan $250,000, and the judge referred the case to criminal court, stating that Markie was liable for theft. The case had a significant impact on the music industry, and record labels became more conscious about clearing samples. Some producers even stopped using samples for fear of facing the same repercussions as Biz. Two years later, Biz had the last laugh with the release of his album All Samples Cleared!, and album title (and cover) that made light of the situation.
1992 - Martin debuts on Fox
Thursday nights had become a ritual for many in the black community as Martin, premiered on Fox in 1992. It was one of the network's highest-rated shows during the sitcom's run and averaged eleven million viewers in its first season. Comedian Martin Lawrence introduced the world to Martin Payne, a Detriot radio DJ, his girlfriend Gina along with her best friend Pam and Martin's two best friends, Tommy and Cole. Lawrence also played a gang of colorful characters who were regularly featured on the show and often stole the spotlight. Each character had their success in the show; from playing Mama Payne with her crazy antics and thick mustache, insane hood neighbor Sheneneh or any of his other roles like Dragonfly Jones, Bob from Marketing, Roscoe, Otis the security guard, King Beef, Elroy Preston, and Detriot pimp Jerome.
The show was relatable and influential with its true-to-self attitude towards, music, film and the African-American experience. The show also crossed hip-hop into pop culture with cameos from The Notorious B.I.G., Method Man, MC Hammer, Snoop Dogg, Christopher “Kid” Reid and many more. Rappers have and still constantly reference the show: T.I.'s “Rubberband Man” “Grand Hustle, man. More hustles than Hustle Man,” Kanye West's “Flashing Lights” “Feeling like Katrina with no FEMA, like Martin with no Gina,” and Big Sean's "Play No Games," a title for one of the show's episodes.
In 2017, Martin Lawrence was honored at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors as the ceremony explicitly focused on the 90s era.
"Anytime anyone wants to recognize you for your work; it's an honor. I am looking forward to a really great night of fun and music," says Lawrence in a statement to Billboard.
Over the years rumors have circulated about a possible reboot, but so far it hasn't been confirmed by Lawrence or any of the living castmates. Fans went to Twitter with mixed reactions of a possible relaunch, especially since the loss of Tommy Ford, however, the gang has been spotted hanging out together, a far fetch from the way the series ended.
1996 - OutKast are ATLiens
Not long after appearing on Martin, rap duo OutKast releases their second album ATLiens. The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 is certified double Platinum. The group produced most of the record themselves as they tried to be as original and creative as possible.
"We're still ATLiens," Andre 3000 told The LA Times. "The ATL for Atlanta, and the aliens for our status as foreigners in the hip-hop game."
"We just sample creatively," Big Boi said of the group's production style. "While everyone else is content to steal an old hit song and add a new rap verse over it, we always start from scratch," he continued. "Pure hip-hop is an art, one that we're trying to preserve. Picasso had plenty of influences, but you'd never catch him trying to remake another artist's work in the exact same way. We feel the same. That's what makes us different."
1996 - MC Lyte is as Bad As I Wanna B
One of hip-hop’s most influential female rappers, MC Lyte released her fifth album Bad As I Wanna B on this day in 1996. The rapper teamed up with producer Jermaine Dupri, dropping hits like “Keep On, Keepin’ On” featuring Xscape and “Cold Rock a Party” featuring Missy Elliott. Both singles peaked to No. 10 and No. 11 on the Hot 100 charts.
1996 - Aaliyah's Sophmore Albums Proves She's One In a Million
Aaliyah already warmed our hearts with her debut album Age Ain't Nothing But A Number, but it was the 1996 release of her sophomore album One In a Million that solidified her as the Princess of R&B. With singles like "4 Page Letter," "If Your Girl Only Knew," and "One In a Million" produced and written by Timbaland and Missy Elliott, the album showed Aaliyah's voice range and rhymic talent, while shedding the girl next door image for a more mysterious one. The album peaked at No. 2 on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts and No. 18 on the Billboard 200 and is certified double Platinum.
1996 - You "Can't Knock the Hustle" of Jay-Z & Mary J. Blige
Off Jay-Z's debut album Reasonable Doubt, "Can't Knock the Hustle" featuring Mary J. Blige was released on this day in 1996. The beat was produced by Knobody in his mother's kitchen matching the rawness of the drug dealing and street life lyrics. Mary J. Blige's chorus inspired by Meli’sa Morgan’s 1985 hit “Fool’s Paradise.”
“I heard what Jay-Z was speaking about, which is not judging the way people go and make their money,” Blige explained in the BBC documentary Classic Albums: Jay-Z, Reasonable Doubt. “It was something I could relate to because the culture we lived in was about survival, and never disrespecting other people’s hustle.”
2002 - Trina is the Diamond Princess
Diamond Princess, Trina's sophomore album was released today in 2002. The album debuted at No. 14 on the Billboard 200 and No. 5 on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts.
2002 - Eve Goes Through an Eve-Olution
Competing against Trina didn't stop Eve with her continued success and the release of her third album Eve-Olution. The album earned international success with singles like "Gangsta Lovin'," that went platinum and the U.S. and Australia. The Philadelphia rapper received positive reviews from critics; Entertainment Weekly called it a more "complex and sophisticated sound that dexterously mixes up moods and tones."
2002 - KRS-One Drops The Mix Tape
KRS-One released his mixtape titled The Mix Tape on this day in 2002. The mixtape was a promotion for the Kristyles album to be released the following year. The song "Ova Here" a diss track and response to Nelly's "Number 1."
2002 - N.W.A.'s The N.W.A. Legacy, Vol. 2 is released
Released sixteen years ago, N.W.A.'s The N.W.A. Legacy, Vol. 2 The album is a compilation of tracks from original members and other Ruthless Records artists such as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Tha Eastsidaz, and The Dogg Pound.
2002 - Devin the Dude is Just Tryin' ta Live
Devin the Dude releases his second album Just Tryin' ta Live on this day in 2002. The 16-track album only made it to No. 61 on the Billboard 200 chart with no singles making the charts. The album appealed to the underground rap fan, even with appearances from artists like Nas and Xzibit.
2002 - Lil Flip is a Undaground Legend
Also from Houston, rapper Lil Flip drops his first major-label album Undaground Legend. It debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 and included the hit single "The Way We Ball." The album was later certified Platinum in December 2002.
2003 - Kelis' "Milkshake" Brings All the Boys to the Yard.
Today marks fifteen years since Kelis dropped the single "Milkshake," from her third album Tasty. The track, written and produced by The Neptunes was first offered to Brittany Spears but declined for unknown reasons. Peaking at No. 3 on the Hot 100 chart, "Milkshake" has become Kelis' best charting single to date.