The Underrated: Kid n' Play

Now, when talking hip hop and classic, some might overlook these two gentlemen, but their legacy for the era they were in is solidified. They would meet while in rival high school hip hop crews, and eventually would become the Fresh Force Crew in the mid 80s. As they continued to hone their craft, they would end up changing their name to Kid n' Play and beginning a string of dope albums to set a tone in the late 80s and early 90s. Now, their run may have been short lived, but when their debut "2 Hype" hit in 1988, the duo stuck out. Kid, Christopher Reid, would be known for his huge high top fade haircut and would be the slightly more lyrical of the duo, while Play was more of the cool, laid back, playboy type, and that helped them mesh perfectly.

The contrast between the two MCs made their first album quite successful as the singles "Rollin With Kid n' Play" and "Gittin Funky" climbed the charts along with the album's title track. The success of the debut album would leave them with a gold plaque and soon they would stumble onto a golden opportunity for film roles that would change their careers.

When DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince turned down the offer to do a film titled House Party, the duo stepped in to take their place and the rest was history. The first House Party filmed seemingly made Kid n' Play household names, even more so than before and with them being featured on the classic soundtrack, it only heightened anticipation for their music. Around this same time, this would lead to them having their second album "Funhouse" do well, going gold quickly and almost cracking platinum, standing as their most successful album in their short catalog. With the success still growing, and a successful film under their belt, the title track from "Funhouse" would become the official theme for House Party, and ended up as a no. 1 hit. The New York duo would be seen by many as non threatening and lacking aggression, but regardless, they maintained a fanbase for their fun loving persona and ability to make music to make you dance. Ah, how could I forget.... dancing.

With Kid n' Play coming out of a culture that bred B-Boys, they would infuse dance into their music and style, something that the stars of the 80s/90s like Rakim, Kool G, and other top tier lyricists didn't focus on. This is what made this era so special in a lot of ways: everybody had their own lane. Sometimes those lanes would intersect, but everyone did what THEY did and didn't conform to fit what was hot. This is what made me enjoy Kid n' Play even more. They weren't bound to restrictions and would end up seeing success by just being them. The success would sort of group them into a box musically, and after their third and final album "Face The Nation", the duo would stick to making and releasing films including House Party 2 and 3, as well as a film separate from that series, Class Act.

In addition to the films and the music, the duo would have their own cartoon series on NBC during the Saturday morning cartoon run, which eventually would get turned into a comic series by Marvel that ran about nine issues. This type of thing happening in hip hop was not common and to me, this drives home the point of their legacy being something special. Despite the films, the cartoons, the comics, it all started from hip hop and the culture. They had accomplished so much in such a little time, and rightfully so.

However, for me, their greatest moment as artists came on that final album, with my favorite song from the duo, "Ain't Gonna Hurt Nobody", which almost seems like them embracing their role in hip hop as non threatening MCs who just want to rap, dance, and have fun. The song is infectious and features them doing what they do best and I often wonder if they hadn't stepped away from making albums, how their sound would have evolved together in the mid 90s during the true Hip hop golden era. They would go into different directions for the most part shortly after they released the third House Party film, but regardless, the duo made a name for themselves in the culture and in hip hop history. They deserve to be mentioned.



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