Rap’s ‘320-Pound Sex Symbol’ Weighs In Against Pop Sellouts
“Awwwwww no, I don’t want to talk about eating and weight and diets!” moans rapper Heavy D., savoring the first morsel of a well-done steak during a Hollywood lunch.
What he does want to talk about is “Now That We Found Love,” his remake of Third World’s 1979 hit.
The New Yorker’s 1989 album, “Big Tyme,” was a huge success in the rap world, selling more than 1 million copies. But the “Love” single--done with his group the Boyz for his recent MCA album “Peaceful Journey"--has introduced him to the wider pop audience that has embraced M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice. He scorns that comparison.
“Are you kidding?” barks Heavy D., 24, a polished rapper with a strong, almost jazz-like rhythmic sense. “I’m not one of those pop guys. That’s for wimps like Vanilla Ice. I aim my music at the hip black, hip-hop audience.”
The distinction, he adds, is important:
“Pop rap is accessible to kids, but it doesn’t have much meat. It’s too mild, like iced tea--I don’t mean the rapper but the drink. Hip-hop rap has substance; it’s not quite hard-core street, but it’s not bland.
“In my kind of rap, I like to make these statements--like rapping sexism and paying tribute to black women or raising the consciousness of kids about the ghetto. Making those statements and being heard--that’s one of the best things about being a rapper.”
What’s the best thing?
“Being a 320-pound sex symbol,” he says good-naturedly, chomping on a bite of steak.
Heavy D.'s real name is Dwight Myers, but he’s gone by the nickname since he was a youngster in Mt. Vernon, N.Y.
Though most rappers prefer a tough, street-wise image, Heavy D. boasts about how squeaky clean his records are: “I don’t curse on my albums. It’s not good for kids. I like to tell stories in my songs, the kind of stories you can tell without resorting to foul language. It’s important for me to provide a good, clean image on my records.”
How about in private?
“Then I can curse like a sailor,” he admits, laughing. “I’m no goody-goody guy--really. But what I do in private is private--and it might surprise people who see the public Heavy D. But that’s my private life--no media allowed.”
TRIXTER: New Kids on the Block of Rock, or Just Cursed With Good Looks?
A screeching crowd is generally sweet music to a band’s ears. For the young hard-rock band Trixter, though, screeches can be a sour note.
To this New Jersey foursome, whose debut album “Trixter” is well over the half-million mark in sales, a screeching audience usually means it is primarily made up of teen-age girls. That kind of fan base puts the band--which is currently touring with Warrant (including stops Oct. 16 at the Universal Amphitheatre, Oct. 17 at the Starlight Bowl in San Diego and Oct. 18 at the Pacific Amphitheatre)--in the teen-idol category. That generally translates into zero artistic credibility and a short life span.
“We’d like to hear a roaring crowd--a real roaring sound with some bass in the roar because it means there are more guys than girls out there,” says guitarist Steve Brown, who estimated Trixter’s audience is 75% girls aged 14 to 17. “Maybe then we’d be taken seriously.”
So far that hasn’t happened. Critics often lump the band, which also includes singer Peter Loran, bassist P.J. Farley and drummer Mark Scott, in with the biggest teen band of all, dubbing Trixter the New Kids on the Block of Rock.
Trixter’s melodic metal songs, mostly written by Brown, 20, don’t really have a hard edge, but they do boast a strong pop element that works well on radio.
Inspired by KISS and Eddie Van Halen, Brown started the band in his basement in Hackensack, N.J., in 1983, when he was 12. Pals Loran and Scott joined the group--which cut its teeth on the teen-club circuit--in 1984, and the current lineup was completed four years ago with the addition of Farley, who, at 18, is the youngest member. In 1989, not long after a one-year hiatus from performing, Trixter was signed by MCA.
Released just over a year ago, the album started slowly but is now over the 700,000 mark and still selling briskly. MTV play of the “Give It to Me Good” video last fall finally triggered the band’s rise, and Trixter continues to be an MTV favorite.
But all that MTV exposure, particularly of the sentimental, romantic “One in a Million,” also helped create that teen-heartthrob image that continues to haunt the band.
“If you’re young and good-looking, some people are conditioned to think you’re a lousy musician,” Brown says. “I’d rather be considered ugly and talented.”