Sir Mix-A-Lot Says His Critics Have Got His Message Backward
“Me? A sexist? Are you kidding?”
Seattle-based rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot seems genuinely indignant--which isn’t quite the reaction you’d expect from someone who’s been nicknamed “Sir Sexist” because of his hit single “Baby Got Back.”
The record, which has been No. 1 for three weeks and sold more than 1 million copies, is a rollicking homage to plump female behinds. Since the record focuses on black women, some have also labeled the Def American release racist.
“A bad rap,” says Mix-A-Lot, 28. The record, he says, was designed to challenge the standard of the lean female that is pushed by magazines like Cosmopolitan.
“I’m on the side of the average woman who doesn’t look like one of the bean-pole women in those magazines,” Sir Mix-A-Lot declares. “I’m saying it’s fine to have a big round rear end. That doesn’t make you any less of a woman because you don’t fit that stupid standard. A flat behind makes women look like a man anyway.”
And he says lots of women get the point of the song.
“They tell me all the time that what I’m saying is long overdue,” he says. “That makes me feel good. I know they understand. The people who are complaining are missing my real message.”
The inspiration for the song came from some models on a music video shoot who complained they couldn’t get certain assignments because their posteriors were considered too ample.
“It was sad to see these women couldn’t get work because of some stupid standard of beauty,” he recalls.
Mix-A-Lot, whose real name is Anthony Ray, started rapping in 1981 because he didn’t like what most rappers were talking about. “Nobody was talking back then about what was real,” he says. “I was into funk back then, the Parliament/Funkadelic stuff. But rap seemed to have possibilities. I said to myself I can do this better. So I tried it. I was driven to prove that I was better and better than the next guy. I passed most of them by--and here’s little ol’ me, the Seattle homeboy, cruising to the top of the heap.”
He sold over a million copies of his first album, “Swass,” and nearly a million of his second, “Seminar,” both on the small, independent Seattle label Nastymix. But he left Nastymix after suing the company over royalties and publishing fees and signed with L.A.-based Def American last year. “Mack Daddy” is his first album for a major label, and it’s his first recording to take him out of the rap underground into the pop spotlight. (The two Nastymix albums were recently re-released on Def American.)
Mix-A-Lot, who writes his raps and arranges and produces his records, describes his appeal as blue-collar.
“I deal with real, everyday things, stuff people can easily relate to,” he explains. “I’m tough and funny but not real hard-core. I don’t do that hard-core swearin’ on every other word. I’m not talking about that Afrocentric thing, going back to the motherland. I’m not trying to be Malcolm X.”
His raunchy humor and his funky, bass-driven beats have certainly drawn fans, but Mix-A-Lot’s biggest strength may be that he’s a master of hooks.
“My songs are arranged so they have something--a line, a chorus--that sticks in your head,” he says. “There has to be something catchy for you to remember what I was talking about. There are better songs out there than mine, with better lyrics and all that, but without strong hooks. It’s the songs with the hooks that catch on, that become hits.”