Live: 2 Live Crew at Delux Delray Beach, September 2

2 Live Crew
Delux Lounge, Delray Beach
Friday, September 2

Better than: Face up, ass down.

"Face down, ass up, that's the way we like to fuck." Now here are some words that moved a generation. OK, perhaps that's a slight exaggeration. But for this reviewer, stumbling upon Miami-based rap group 2 Live Crew's sexually overcharged, expletive-heavy, hip-hop during his elementary-school years was indisputably formative. Experiencing As Nasty as They Wanna Be, with ladies and their ample backsides in barely there thongs and a "parental advisory" warning sticker slapped across the front, was tantamount to a '70s kid flipping through the illustrations on Alex Comfort's 1972 classic The Joy of Sex for the first time -- or the Kama Sutra 1,000 years prior, for that matter. It was all so forbidden, provocative, and underground.

Fast-forward 20-odd years and 2 Live Crew's material may still seem rather blunt within today's oversexualized pop culture but not nearly as scandalous. Lyrics like "bend over and spread 'em, girl, show me those pussy pearls" hardly seem to have as much punch as they did back in the day. These songs that use to shock and awe the adults of our youth now seem like bubbly party anthems.

And bubbly it was Friday night at Delray Beach's slice of South Beach lounge Delux. Cast aside any preconceptions on what an audience might look like at a 2 Live Crew show; the girls and guys this night were a well-mannered bunch, decked to the nines in pressed, buttoned-down shirts and designer duds. Unfortunately, there was not one hoochie mama sighting, not one lap-dance-style grind spotted on the dance floor all night.

Fresh Kid Ice (born Chris Wong Won) and Brother Marquis (Mark Ross) did keep the prissy missies and fellas waiting in anticipation for some time, taking to the stage at 1 a.m. But the duo, performing without Luther Campbell, wasted no time living up to "playing the hits your parents hated" billing (as stated on the event flier), by opening the evening with "The Fuck Shop" -- a track from its seminal 1989 album, As Nasty as They Wanna Be, that deals with a visit to a brothel. The Van Halen rip-off samples were turned down with the mix on this track, focusing much more on the thumping of the bass line. Despite his middle-aged appearance, Fresh Kid Ice's delivery on the mic still maintained the high-pitched, easy-flowing vibe it did back in the group's heyday. The crunkified thud of the drum machines seems to dominate the sound, however, and challenged the limits of Delux's speakers.

Marquis took the lead on the frisky "One and One" next and rapped straight from the libido. The booty bass lines subjugated everything else, though. No worries, this song, with its nifty counting stream, lends itself nicely to crowd rap-a-longs and thusly had just about everyone counting up with Marquis till he reached the finale number 10 where everyone bellowed in unison: "Get off my ass bitch."

Then it was a double dose of songs dedicated to the guys unrelenting love of vajajays: "Throw That Pussy," and "Hey We Want Some Pussy." Both Martquis and Kid Ice stayed true to form on these tracks, delivering each misogynistic line with just the right amount of tongue in cheekiness to make it passable.

They cranked up the misogyny just a little more on a new number called "Dance Like a Ho." Pretty simple to make out what the lyrical content was that followed.

Another new one called "Boom" came on next. It was a slower-paced track, with grittier drums and a touch of Auto-Tune. Marquis broke it down to the crowd; "What am I going to do with all that booty." At this point, he was signaling to one of the four well-rounded dancers onstage standing next to him, wiggling her posterior in unison to the bass bottom bumps. It was a question this reviewer bets a few guys in the crowd could have proposed a few solutions for.

And before we knew it, as quickly as a dirty romp in a club bathroom, the show was over in just over 30 minutes. The Miami dirty crunk kings came, teased, and left Delray with their, ahem... childhood memories of dirty rhymes and forbidden times in their hands.

Critic's Notebook

Random detail: Proceeds from the show benefited famine relief in Somalia.

By the way: The last two songs heard this evening make up Just Wanna Be Heard, 2 Live Crew's forthcoming new album.

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Alex Rendon