LAKELAND — Sir Mix-a-Lot is attracting a new generation to rap along in ogling admiration of women's posteriors 26 years after "Baby Got Back" hit the radio waves.
Although Sir Mix-a-Lot’s hit single was the second best-selling song in the United States back in 1992, Sir Mix-a-Lot — whose real name is Anthony Ray — is quick to point out he’s not stuck in strictly throwback, “old skool” mode.
And he’s out to prove that when he brings his current tour to Lakeland on Saturday. Ray will perform from 7 to 10 p.m. at Wild Greg’s Saloon, 4951 U.S. 98 N., Lakeland.
Speaking from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, following a show there, Ray, 54, said he preferred playing what he called secondary markets like Lakeland because the venues tend to offer more intimate atmospheres. He said he performs old-school live and wants to be up-close and personal with fans.
“I like that real, you know, cozy setting. I like to be up-close and touching hands — that’s what it’s all about for me,” said Ray, one of rap’s most famous “Do It Yourself” successes.
After leaving his hometown, Seattle, which hardly had a rap or hip-hop scene in the 1980s, Ray founded his own record label, produced and promoted his own music and tracks and personally got his creations to his audiences way before the mass dissemination of digital recording and the internet.
According to information from APA Talent and Literary Agency, Beverly Hills, California, Ray already had a strong following in the hip-hop community. His songs were known for their bouncy, danceable, bass-heavy tracks Ray credits to pioneering electro-centered artists such as Kraftwerk, Afrika Bambaataa and Gary Numan.
“Kraftwerk was a major influence on me. I fell in love with music before rap was born. I was into a lot of techno-based music and gravitated to that a long time ago,” he said.
Ray returned to steady touring in 1999 but hasn’t released an album of new material since 2003’s “Daddy’s Home,” which he said was the first album he was able to use more in-depth, introspective lyrics.
Ray says he's currently on a fun tour attracting a large number of female fans and younger teens. He said he’s never wanted to be the old guy on tour and acknowledged the skills of current rap artists such as Kendrick Lamar and 1990s rappers such as N.W.A. and Public Enemy.
“I’m also digging stuff outside of rap, like EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and dubstep,” he said.
Although “Baby Got Back” is Ray’s signature song, his first single was 1987ʹs “Posse on Broadway,” which led to his first album, 1988ʹs “Swass.” The video for “Posse on Broadway” landed some airplay on MTV, and became Sir Mix-a-Lot’s first national chart single in late 1988. Overall, Ray has released six albums since 1988.
At the Lakeland show, Ray said his audience can to hear “Baby Got Back” and other hits, “Posse on Broadway,” "My Hooptie,” “Beepers” “Put ‘Em on the Glass.” He said he does a version of “Testarossa” off 1992's “Mack Daddy,” which emphasizes his live show and will often grab audience members' video devices and focus on his mouth so “they know I’m not lip-syncing,” he said and chuckled.
Ray will be backed by three other rappers who will also perform solo, including his nephew, who helps mix the show’s sound on stage.
Ray said he’s not out to make a statement about social events or politics. It’s all about a good time.
“People didn’t come to see me to hear my opinions on, you know, economics and pay your taxes and prosperity,” he said. “They don’t want to hear all that stuff. I come to entertain; I don’t go up and do 30 minutes and leave ... and squeeze 'Baby Got Back' down to 30 seconds. I don’t do that. When I get done, the crowd will be sweaty. I promise you that.”
Paul Catala can be reached at email@example.com or 863-802-7533. He can be reached at Twitter @pcat0226.