There are maybe 3-4 albums that could be said to have been the soundtracks to my high school experience. Sure, there are dozens of songs that would be on my high school mix-tape. But I’m talking complete albums, records and tapes that I listened to end-to-end, over and over and over and over. And one of those albums was the 1988 debut LP by Seattle’s own hip hop maestro, Sir Mix-a-Lot, Swass. I wore that tape out in my silver ’84 Mustang as me and The Posse cruised the mean streets of Bellevue, WA.
So I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I was unaware that Mix-a-Lot had put out some music pre-Swass. When I ran across this 1986 12″ down at Amoeba Music I was in a state of shock. There are six tracks on here… and I only know one of of them, and even that’s a remix (of “Square Dance Rap”). I had to have this. There was no question. The Mack Daddy… the Chief Boot Knocka… I had to get my Mix fix.
As soon as the first of the two mixes of “I’m a Trip” kicked in, I knew I had a winner. Bizarro 80s style sampling… the “Total Trip Mix” version with its tinny vocals and relatively high sounding bass is all 80s all the time. Lots of classic Mix-a-Lot references are here – “Sucka DJs,” “mud ducks,” Cadillacs, and Seattle mentions all over the place. It’s not as polished as Swass, and certainly not as richly produced as some of Mix’s later albums, but there’s an edginess to these tracks that makes them somehow more real. These are the building blocks of Swass, including a mix of one of that album’s most locally celebrated tracks, “Square Dance Rap.”
Whip her to the left,
Whip her to the right,
But don’t whip her hard
Cuz her jeans are tight (hoo hoo)
— “Square Dance Rap”
Everyone knows Mix-a-Lot for his mega-hit “Baby Got Back,” and deservedly so. But if you’ve never listened to his early material… do yourself a favor and check it out. This is some great old school hip hop. He doesn’t resort to a whole lot of swearing and threats of violence, just some witty and weird lyrics surrounded by some classic beats. And if you find yourself in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood when “Posse on Broadway” comes on the car stereo, well, roll down the windows, crank it, and go to Dick’s for a burger. It’s the place where the cool hang out. Posse up!