On this day, Prince released Controversy, LL Cool J dropped Phenomenon, Gravediggaz delivered their second album and Mase scored a major hit for Bad Boy’s “shiny suit” era with “Feels So Good.”
1981: Prince stirs up Controversy
With his fourth release, Controversy, Prince continued to explore the pop-synth sound of its predecessor, Dirty Mind. The album remains among the music icon’s most defining, as he broached heavy topics over danceable funk-laced jams. The title track is a prime example: “Do I believe in god, do I believe in me? / Some people want to die so they can be free / I said life is just a game, we’re all just the same, do you want to play?” It’s a concept Prince would explore more throughly on the album’s follow up, 1982’s 1999 and would continue to play with regularly. He mingled spiritual curiosity and carnality, and poked fun at the way the world meandered between the two, while admitting his place in the midst of it. Beyond “Controversy,” the eight-track album featured another Prince standard, “Do Me,” the lone track written by someone other than himself, Andre Cymone.
1997: Mase explains why he “Feels So Good”
Mase helped to define the “shiny suit” era of Bad Boy Records, and his song “Feels So Good” from his 1997 debut, Harlem World, played no small part in establishing the visual for that moment in history. Sparkle and bling filled the Hype Williams-directed video, with Mase and Diddy joyously dancing, enjoying their success. The song peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and prominently sampled Kool & the Gang’s “Hollywood Swinging.” Adding to its staying power, the song is featured in the video game, NBA 2K18.
“Up until that point, all my success was Puff’s success,” Mase said in a 2014 interview with Complex. “So, when he got a Grammy or when he got a Billboard Award I would go up there and get it with him, but it wasn’t my award. So, once I had ‘Feel So Good’ it was like my first record that did really well for me…”
1997: LL Cool J drops Phenomenon
LL Cool J’s seventh album came in 1997 with the release of Phenomenon. The album capitalized on the success that Diddy was experiencing at the time, and he and The Hitmen produced the album’s title track and lead single. While it didn’t fair as well as the album’s predecessor, Mr. Smith, which went double platinum, Phenomenon was still a success for LL, going platinum and peaking at No. 7 on the Billboard 200. At the time of the album’s release, LL was starring on the UPN sitcom In The House, and prepping for his breakout film roles in Any Given Sunday, In Too Deep and Deep Blue Sea, all of which were released in 1999.
“Rap music definitely made me feel more empowered,” he said in a 2017 interview. “In the ’hood, you’re sitting in it like hot-dog water. It takes a certain amount of tenacity and creativity to pull your mind out of that water and dry it off.”
1997: Gravediggaz drop The Pick, the Sickle and the Shovel
In 1997, Gravediggaz (Prince Paul, RZA, Poetic and Frukwan) dropped their second album, The Pick, the Sickle and the Shovel, the follow-up to their acclaimed debut, 1994’s Six Feet Deep. Though Prince Paul’s imprint was all over the first album, he was largely absent from the sophomore effort, as was RZA’s production, though he did produce two tracks on his own and three others as co-producer. The album signaled change for the group, which would never again record with its original members.
“I think rap is a division of hip-hop. Rap is part of the whole,” Poetic explained in 1997, just after the album dropped. “Hip-hop is the attitude, the clothes, the vibes, the slang, everything about living. Everything about living and loving. Loving the music, loving the women that love hip-hop, loving your men that roll with you, knowing that they have your back no matter what goes down, and it’s all because you’re tied in at the music, which is a good tie-in. You know what I’m saying, it’s something that everyone can enjoy.”
1974: Shaggy 2 Dope is born
Joseph William Utsler known to the horrocre hip-hop world as Shaggy 2 Dope of the Insane Clown Posse was born on Oct. 14, 1974. The group has sold more than six million copies since its debut in 1992, Carnival of Carnage. He’s also the co-founder of the professional wrestling promotion Juggalo Championship Wrestling.
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