If you were born in the 1970’s or 1980’s, prepare yourself. You’re about to experience a potent dose of nostalgia. If you’re a 90’s baby, get ready to mark a vital Hip Hop moment that took place before your time: House Party turns 25 this year.
That’s right the cult classic starring Christopher “Kid” Reid, Christopher “Play” Martin, Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, A.J. Johnson, Full Force, and John Witherspoon hit movie theaters a quarter of a century ago. And yes, the impact of the 1990 comedy is still resonating in 2015.
From dance partners breaking out the “Kid n’ Play” footwork at the family reunion to “follow the drip” being the universally recognized response to seeing a man with a Jheri curl, director Reginald Hudlin’s tale of two high school students’ mission of throwing the ultimate blowout has left an undeniable mark on the culture.
Even the House Party sequel became an unforgettable time capsule of the fun days of the early 90’s. Besides featuring an all-star cast which included Reid, Martin, Lawrence, Campbell, Queen Latifah, Iman, and Whoopi Goldberg, the second installment of the House Party franchise centered around a pajama party for the ages.
Kid ‘n Play are now set to relive the House Party 2 theme at the first annual Everything Is Festival’s Pajama Jammy Jam. The creators of the gold-selling albums 2 Hype and Funhouse will also attend a screening of the original House Party. The movie will be followed by a performance from the duo along with legendary DJ Mix Master Mike behind the boards.
Before Pacific Northwest fans get to turn up to hits like “Rollin’ With Kid ‘n Play,” “Back to Basics,” and “Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody” on May 30, AllHipHop.com spoke with Play and Mike about their upcoming show, their thoughts on feel good Hip Hop, and of course House Party.
Kid ‘N Play is headlining the Everything Is Festival this year. How does it feel knowing you guys have been in the business for thirty years and people are still excited to see you perform?
Play: It feels good. It’s not like it was planned that way. Our inspiration when this thing began was using this as a vehicle to be able to get into as many women’s pants as I could. I didn’t have any master plan as to what things would look like up the road. I just wanted to do a single.
That ended up turning into a three decade career. That’s pretty amazing.
Play: What we mean for bad, God turns into good. We just kept it going. We didn’t know that it would be as well received and as large as it has been. It was just a whole crew of us – we had DJs and Hurby [“Luv Bug” Azor] – that really just wanted to have fun. That’s usually the definition of success – loving what you do and getting paid for it.
Your upcoming set is part of the Everything Is Festival’s Pajama Jammy Jam. That was the theme of House Party 2. Do you have a particular memorable moment from filming that movie?
Play: I always was in awe of what mankind is able to pull off. When you’re on a project like that, it starts off in your dressing room and clothes are made available to you. What is always amazing is when your escort comes to get you from your dressing room, you had read the script of what the scene is supposed to look like. Then when you enter into the location, you’re in awe of what has been created.
When you talk about the pajama party situation, what was amazing is that was supposed to be in the hall of a college. So just to see a big crowd of people enthusiastic to see you – and we’re happy to see them – and to see this thing that actually looks like a big hall at a college, but it’s not.
The same thing with soundstages. When you go and see what they’re able to create. That’s what always sticks out to me. Being able to see what has been built and it looks so real.
Mike, you have had an amazing career as well. You’re still performing and doing these shows. What does it mean for you that you’ve been in the game for so long and you’re still drawing in crowds?
Mike: For me, I’ve always had a passion for this whole thing. You’re so dedicated to the craft that you keep going and going. Then after a while you get rewarded with certain things and just say, “Wow.” And the blessing is, you get to do this for a living. Being able to do it almost 30 years is just a blessing.
I remember picking up my first Kid ‘n Play 12-inch. It was “Gittin’ Funky.” I thought, “Oh sh*t. This is raw, hardcore Hip Hop.” There’s Hip Hop and then there’s timeless Hip Hop. The stuff Kid ‘n Play made is more timeless. Your intentions are to make timeless music and timeless performances. So this is a blessing for me to do this and I’m approaching 30 years.
Kid ‘n Play – and Mike you worked a lot with the Beastie Boys – both groups are known for making party, good time rap music. There are a lot of Hip Hop fans that feel like acts today no longer represent that part of the culture. What are your feelings on the lack of rap artists that embrace that “feel good”, “party” type of music?
Play: I think that things have to go through their seasons and their periods. It hasn’t always been smooth, because sometimes Kid and I had to play the back to let different expressions of music take the forefront – the gangster thing, the sexual thing. But if you stay alive long enough, you get to see things come back again.
I think even with the gangster thing and social awareness, conscious rap we have to experience things and have balance. People want a good time. Hip Hop was birthed out of desperation. Hip Hop was birthed out of a fiscal crisis in the ‘70’s in New York.
People were going through bad times in the city of New York – the birthplace of it all, and they wanted escapism. They wanted to stop thinking about – at least for a little bit – the breaking up of homes, the lack of money, no more after school programs, the music programs being discontinued. People were getting desperate for some relief.
I think that’s happening again now, or we’re on the verge of that. You want to laugh. You need to laugh. You want to dance. You want to be able to say, “I love you.” You want to hear “I love you.” That’s what people want, and I think that’s what it’s getting to.
Unfortunately, there’s other ways to escape too like drugs and alcohol. The safe stuff can be the music. People that are good enough will take [the listeners] to another place and paint a mental picture of how things will be when we have money again, that pretty girl, that handsome man. A good DJ, like Mix Master, will be able to take them to those places to have a good time and put a pause on drama.
Mike: Like Play said, it’s escapism. When I get on stage I make it my intention to give people that experience, to take them away from what they’re going through. Because I was in those shoes too. When I first started it wasn’t all rosy. I ain’t gonna lie. I used to sell drugs, but luckily I found myself.
Everybody has something. They just have to tap into it. I was able to tap into DJing and putting music together. That was my release. That was my getaway. Now, I’m at this point where if I could change one person’s life or put a smile on somebody’s face, then I’ve done my job.
Play, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Rae Sremmurd, but they’ve been compared to Kid ‘n Play.
Play: I think Kid is more familiar with them than I am, but I have heard the name.
Are there any younger acts that have grabbed your attention?
Play: When I dip in and stick my head in every once in a while. Matter of fact I’m channel surfing MTV Jams and VH1 Soul. I kind of feel for today’s generation of entertainers. Especially, in the Hip Hop genre, because those who are old enough to know – even some today who are familiar with how the structure used to be – I think there’s a part of them that doesn’t like the fact that some of the old structure still doesn’t exist.
There was a time where you could do a music video, and you could live off that music video for anywhere from 3 – 6 months. Now a music video is old already in a week. Everything has such a very short shelf life, and it’s really kind of sad.
Just seeing one artist you might be feeling, but you don’t know if next week you’ll see them again. It reminds me of being in jail. You didn’t want to get to close to anybody you met in jail, because you didn’t know if the next morning [they would be there]. They’re up and out before you even wake up for call the next morning. That’s how it feels sometimes in this entertainment business.
Mike: We live in a society where it’s like snippets. Kids are so ADHD now that they listen to 15 seconds of a song and want to move on. I remember we used to go record shopping and bring home a bunch of records to listen to them from front to back. We’d read the production credits and look at the pictures. The kids don’t have that anymore. They won’t know what that feels like until there’s a another movement that’s gonna come back around.
Play: I remember a time where the cover was everything. The cover and the artwork were so important to albums and CDs. A very special part of getting signed to a label was doing your photo shoot. What’s supposed to be better isn’t necessarily best. But like I said, I stick my head in as much as possible just so I know.
Mike: I remember I used to buy records and would ask, “Who made those beats?” I discovered Hurby “Luv Bug” was working with Kid ‘n Play. I was like “Man, Hurby’s the sh*t.” I knew more about Hurby. It’s that education you get. People are now in a hurry to listen to 50 songs in one minute.
The theme for the Everything Is Festival party is Pajama Jammy Jam. The original cast of House Party reunited in January at Alicia Key’s Pajama Jammy Jam birthday party. What was that experience like?
Play: It was great. I got the chance to really experience some Brown Sugar between Swizz [Beatz] and Alicia – definitely that love for Hip Hop. It seems to be a nice essential part of their relationship. They have a competition between them where they always try to outdo each other with movie themes. He really outdid her with this one, because one of their favorite movies is House Party.
They turned their pool house into an actual disco. Everybody and their mother was there, so it seemed. They stayed true to the pajama theme. It was really a lot of fun and a lot of love. They’re a great couple.
Mike, you talked about how in some ways Hip Hop has regressed. But over the last 40 years Hip Hop has had some major milestone moments as well. One of those is your performance at The Kennedy Center Honors. What was that experience like for you?
Mike: For me growing up, GrandMixer DXT was one of the first people I saw scratch live on TV. So seeing him do that with Herbie Hancock was inspiring. Then 25 years later, I’m doing a tribute for Herbie Hancock and scratching the same part of “Rockit.” It was just crazy.
It was one of those moments where you’re numb to it. Then you see it on TV and people like your mom and dad are calling you saying, “You did a great job.” Then it all came together for me. I’m blessed. What can I say?
To be scratching, then you look up and the President and the First Lady are watching you and bobbing their heads, it’s just crazy. Its like, “I guess I came a long way.”
What can the people attending Everything Is Festival expect when they party with Kid ‘n Play and Mix Master Mike?
Play: Hopefully, a good time. What Kid and I have always tried to resonate is it is really about the friendship, the camaraderie, and the energy that comes from it. It’s not about Kid and Play. From what I’m hearing from Mike, he’s probably feeling the same way.
It’s a partnership between all the entities, and that includes the crowd. You can’t have a good show, we can’t have a good time, if the crowd isn’t in it. We feed off their energy and vice versa.
Sometimes I don’t even like a stage because it portrays “we’re higher than you” or “we’re better than you.” We really try to bring down that invisible wall, so that everybody can have a good time.
Mike: When I do shows, people ask me about riders – “What do you need?” I’m like, “What do I need? Just give me a bottle of water and a towel. And just have a good time.” Let’s show these kids a good time. And let’s have them talk about it for years to come – “That Pajama Party, that was a fun time.”
For information about the Everything Is Festival scheduled for May 28 – June 1 visit hollywoodtheatre.org.
Watch the “Everything Is Festival: Kid N Play” trailer below.