Sir Mix-a-Lot: iPhone App Is ‘Value-Based,’ Skrillex Is ‘Cool’
Sir Mix-a-Lot was king of the callipygian lyrical references well before Lil Wayne and Drake were telling women to pop their rotund derrieres. In 1992, he created ‘Baby Got Back,’ a double platinum-selling single off his third album, ‘Mack Daddy,’ and put mainstream America onto a slang term for backsides that deserved some special attention. Almost 12 years after the song’s release, the Grammy Award-winning Seattle native is still reaping the benefits off rhyming about female anatomy with the debut of his ‘Baby Got Back’ iPhone app.
From a Mix Makeover photo lab — users can manipulate aspects of a picture by blowing up and stretching assets — to the Ba Dunka Dunk club game — the object is to maneuver well-endowed women around obstacles and into the right pair of hot pants — Sir Mix-a-Lot’s app boosts his original song into a technological experience. There’s a slew of other features and the 48-year-old hip-hop veteran had a hand in creating them all.
Read on as the wide brim hat-wearing MC spits knowledge about his app, reveals why he has a fondness for dubstep and 2012 Grammy-nominated Best New Artist Skrillex and explains the true story of how ‘Baby Got Back’ was born.
Watch Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ‘Baby Got Back’
What was the inspiration for ‘Baby Got Back’?
We were watching the Super Bowl, I think it was Buffalo Bills — one of those super bowls where they got slaughtered. We were watching the Super Bowl — we being me and a girl I was dating back then named Amy. She was Puerto Rican and black, nice big ol’ juicy booty with a little, tiny waist. I mean she had a body. We were watching a Budweiser commercial with the Spuds MacKenzie girls that was real hot back then. And they had all these real little skinny chicks. And there’s nothing wrong with skinny chicks, but I’m like, “How come they’re not really showing what men really like?” If you think I’m lying, you take a bunch of skinny chicks, put ’em in a room, take Dolly Parton’s titties and put them on the other side of the room and watch where all the men’s eyes go. So I said, “You know what? Let’s do something kinda poking fun, tongue-in-cheek, at this stereotype that all women should look like heroin addicts.”
It started with [Amy] doing the “Oh my god Becky” thing on a DAT recorder — a little portable DAT machine I had just bought in New York, which was like new s— back then. I started writing the lyrics and initially the song was slow. It was supposed to be somewhat offensive. I was trying to be as political as I could then it turned into a bunch of funny s—. And the rest is history.
What was the thought process behind the ‘Baby Got Back’ iPhone app?
We were working on this app two years ago. Dealing with the powers that be at Apple, we had to kinda water some things down to make ’em work. Initially it was something where you could get your instant gratification — you can come in and play a quick game — but it was also gonna be something you would constantly come back to ’cause we’d have various models that would rotate in and out every month. That was kinda the initial idea, like the instant gratification of doing something as silly as slapping clothes onto a girl and slap clothes off a girl. But that didn’t work out too well.
Two years ago you started creating it. Was that when the idea first came to mind?
I thought of the idea before it was even doable, when apps were real simple. Then I started talking to Sony, and Sony got involved. Then I made sure I put up half of the money ’cause I wanted to maintain some control. That’s how we did it.
Do you feel like this app will make more people aware of the song, for instance, kids who never heard it?
I have yet to meet a kid who never heard the song. You know why? Because kids love talking about booty, butt, farting. They don’t listen to it the way we [adults] listen to it. They think it’s funny, but when they turn 14, 15 they go, “Oh, yeah you mean butt like ass.” I got lucky with that song that it really panned out into something a lot bigger than I ever imagined.
Overall, what do you want the user experience to be?
I want them to know you didn’t just buy an app that was just something basic to do for 15 minutes and I took your dollar. I want you to really look at it and go, “God damn, look at all the s— I get for 99 cents.” There’s a lot of stuff in this app. I want people to really enjoy it. I want people to understand that anything you get from Mix-a-Lot is gonna be value-based. You’re gonna get a lot of bang for your buck. From this point forward, there will be more apps. This is just the first in a list of many.
Watch Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ‘Beepers’
Besides this app, what other music projects do you have in the works?
I’m gonna do one record next year. I say it’s the last album, but it may not be. Basically it’s to celebrate ‘Baby Got Back,’ but that does not mean I’m gonna have 100 remixes of ‘Baby Got Back.’ That would really suck.
I have a couple new acts I’m working with. I have a young lady named Tomeka Williams. Instead of doing a music video, we’re gonna do a mini movie, like a 15-minute movie, in which three of her videos will be within the movie and interwoven as a story. Her music is a cross between R&B, soul and alternative. The album’s called ‘The Black Hood.’
So is she an artist signed to you?
Yes. Rhyme Cartel Records is my label. I’ve been working with her for like three years. We’ve been trying to hone in on a good sound and I think she has it. When I met her, she was 18 years old, singing in the Baptist church. She had power for days and she only weighed 110 pounds soaking wet. She sounded like a 300-pound fat chick with all that power. Now she’s 29 and fine as hell.
You’re a veteran in the game and have watched artists come and go. Are there any hip-hop artists’ careers that you respect?
Definitely. Obviously my ability to stay around has something to do with the music but it has more to do with the things I do outside of music. So I’m able to take my brand and leverage it against something else, which usually parlays into more money. And it eliminates me having to scramble to try to monetize bulls— content and allows me to do other things to make money. And when it comes to that kind of stuff, that’s what I respect. And obviously I have to look at Jay-Z; he gets it. He’s like Russell Simmons with a microphone. Diddy gets it. You can see other guys making moves — 50 Cent, Eminem. Cats that are doing things outside of music.
What about on the music tip? Who do you listen to these days?
I really like Killer Mike. I love everything he does. He kinda has a weird style. I listen to a little bit of Slim Thug. You know who I’m really into now and not even hip-hop? Skrillex. Dubstep to me is the future of music, period. Every time I listen to him I want to kick someone’s ass. The first time I heard [‘Kill Everybody’] I was like, “This is cool.” But the first time I head ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’ I was like , “Oh s—!” The sounds are so aggressive. When I saw people do mosh pits to dubstep, now, I’m like, “That’s the music I wanna produce,” ’cause I love challenges. What I like about it is it’s the first type of music that truly uses synthesizers the way they were intended to be used.
Who is still on your dream collaboration list?
Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, James Brown, rest in peace. Prince, who I’d be totally intimidated by. Gary Numan. Devo. And oddly enough John Mayer. That song he has called ‘Gravity,’ that sounds like some blues my mama used to listen to. And he brings back that swanky kind of a southern crusaders jazz feel that I really miss in music today.
Watch ‘How to Firm Up Your Butt’