In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Hip-Hop began its meteoric ascent into the mainstream propelled in large part by MC Hammer. Beginning with his Capitol Records debut, Let’s Get It Started, Hammer deviated from the popular rap style of the times to a more musical and dance-inspired feel. However, it was Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em, Hip-Hop’s first diamond album-in 1990, that catapulted him to superstardom and gave him the ability to produce his own artists.
Members of Oaktown’s 3.5.7 were originally background dancers in Hammer’s massive entourage. Their October 1990 release, Wild & Loose, capitalized on his popularity and sound with rap that inspired dancing – only this time, the music was female-oriented almost to the point of a new Hip-Hop feminism. Their biggest single, “Juicy (Got Ya Krazy)” featured lyrics like, “He’s on his knees/he copped a plea/he wants to get a piece of me.” 3.5.7’s lyrics were the prequel to rappers like Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown’s raunchiness of the ’90s, to Nicki Minaj’s freakiness of today.
But despite their popularity, especially among female rap fans, Oaktown 3.5.7 didn’t gain the momentum or acclaim of their mentor. Their second album, Fully Loaded, failed to chart and shortly after, the group officially disbanded. AllHipHop.com recently sat down to talk to Oaktown’s 3.5.7 about their Hip-Hop journey and their long overdue reunion with Hammer:
AllHipHop.com: So, let’s get right into it. How do you all feel about where Hip-Hop is right now for women?
Sweet L.D.: That’s a big question. I have mixed emotions about it, because it’s almost like its non-existent. There’s only one female who is in your face and that’s Nicki Minaj. But I’m sure you have a plethora of females underground rocking it out, but you don’t hear about them. I’m not sure how to change that, but it does need to change. Something needs to happen so that you have a variety of women in the market. It’s like women are being shut out, and it wasn’t like that 20 years ago. Yeah, we had to fight to get in, but once we got in, people were happy to hear from us.
AllHipHop.com: So, I know everybody wants to know, what are you guys up to?
Lil’ P: I own a medical supply company in Houston, and we are getting ready to open a home health care agency. That’s what I do business-wise. Entertainment-wise, L.D., and I just did a show for gay pride. It was great; we hadn’t been together in years, and we just kind of picked up where we left off.
Sweet L.D.: I have been spearheading the reunion. I reached out to Terrible T. and we thought it was going to be the three of us, but so far, that hasn’t happened. I mean, we hadn’t seen each other in over 20 years, and it’s worked out great. We’ve made a lot of strides to reintroduce ourselves to our fans and to a new audience. We have a new single out, “Get Up On It,” it’s on iTunes and Amazon. We are working on a dance fitness program that we are in the works to create as well. I’m also a wife, mother, teacher, and all that other kind of stuff.
AllHipHop.com: Do you guys still talk to Hammer?
Sweet L.D.: I think the first time I talked to him since everything had fallen apart was 2010. After that, we didn’t talk again for another year. We really had not solidified our reconnection until recently. We were able to get some things in the clear.
AllHipHop.com: Can you share what splintered the relationship between all of you?
Sweet L.D.: There are so many layers in that story. While everything was working, we were working, we were touring, we were doing videos, and then pretty much, we were told we were being released. Once we were released, we literally left the office without asking any questions. From there, that’s 1992, we just left. We got in our cars and just drove off; we walked away from it almost like it never happened.
I eventually heard everything secondhand, listening to Hammer in interviews talking about how he lost millions. He was in the dark about a lot of money issues. There was mismanagement of funds, bad decisions being made. There were a lot of people involved with him who had ulterior motives. We, myself and Terrible T., weren’t the only ones to get hurt. Hammer was really scarred by some of these bad decisions that were made on his behalf.
Lil P.: With me, I left early on because I think I saw what was coming. We weren’t getting paid in the beginning. My eye-opener came after we did the “Arsenio Hall Show”, and we got a really big check, and somebody told me that was what a dancer earned, and I’m getting that from Arsenio, but not from Hammer, not even half of it. I left right after that.
AllHipHop.com: With all of that being said, what do you wish aspiring artists knew about the entertainment industry?
Sweet L.D.: I have always said that they need to KNOW the business. They also need to own their talent and realize that their talent is separate from the person who gave them an opportunity. Own yourself, own your talent, and stand up for yourself. Respect that, cherish that, and go into any situation knowing that.
AllHipHop.com: I have to say it is an honor talking to you. I think a legend is any person whose contributions bring out real emotion in you and who lives in your heart and mind, and that is very true for me when it comes to your music. It was the soundtrack for my youth!
Sweet L.D.: We are really honored by that. Hearing you say that, especially after meeting with Hammer is incredible timing. It was really hard to see the good in that situation, in that music. For all of these years, I wouldn’t even talk about it. I wouldn’t even tell anybody who I was. It took me a long time to get strong enough to acknowledge what we did. Right now, I own that experience in Oaktown 3.5.7, and I have a totally different, more positive perspective. It wasn’t all bad, it wasn’t all painful. It was good. It was beautiful.
Oaktown’s 3.5.7’s new single, “Get Up On It,” is available on iTunes. Follow them on Twitter (@StreetTeam357) and (@SweetLD357).