|The Rap Sheet: December Edition|
Last month I talked about Vanilla Ice and it reminded me how much I loved 3rd Bass. Michael Berrin, a.k.a MC Serch, Prime Minister Pete Nice, with the Christian name of Peter Nash and DJ Richie Rich was the other 3 piece, white... well mostly white Hip-Hop group to rival the Beasties. Back when those guys were fighting for their right to party, 3rd Bass was dropping bombs all over New York City, and I'm not talking about Pidgeon droppings here! These guys stood up and fought for respect in a time when color mattered, carved out a spot for themselves in the Hip-Hop community and gave us all "the Gas Face!"3rd Bass didn't last long, however, they had a huge impact on the community and helped pave the way for those of us with fare skin to be treated as equals in an industry unfamiliar. In retrospect, 3rd Bass had an edgy sound far before it's time. Coming out in the late 80's, early 90's, 3rd Bass was restricted to the typical aesthetic of the time. The beats were fresh, definitely "Old School" by today's standards. Lyrically edgy and abrasive, never holding back when they had an opinion about someone or something and comfortable to put it in a video as well.
Humble beginnings by all accounts, 3rd Bass, a couple white-boys from Brooklyn would go on to be groundbreaking artists in a genre completely foreign to the mainstream at the time. While attending Columbia University as an English major, Peter Nash hosted the campus radio station, WKCR-FM's Hip-Hop radio show. This gave Nash a taste of the industry as well as small connections. At the same time MC Serch was cutting his teeth in the local club scene, performing at many of New York's hottest clubs. He would also perform at neighborhood block parties, Serch loved to put on a show. Serch released a single "Hey Boy" during a stint with an independent label.
Eventually, small-time record producer Sam Sever convinced the pair to work together, and along with Dj Richie Rich formed the group "3 the Hard Way." This name wasn't popular with the group and 3rd Bass was the resolution. In 1989, 3rd Bass released it's first studio album, "The Cactus Album." The album was produced by Sever, Prince Paul and the Bomb Squad. Their debut album garnered critical acclaim and was certified gold. "Gas Face" was the single off the album and had a great video with cameo's by Public Enemy co-founder Flava Flav and the great Gilbert Goddfried. "Gas Face" peaked at #5 on Billboard's Top Rap Singles, but didn't even chart on Billboard's Hot 100.
Something I was not aware of, as I am sure is the same with most people, is that sometime before the formation of 3rd Bass, MC Serch had tried to join up with the Beastie Boys and was obviously unsuccessful. Serch carried a grudge over this so when 3rd Bass signed with Def Jam, they were happy to inherit Def Jam's feud with the Beasties. The Beastie Boys had walked out on their contract with Def Jam and signed with Capitol Records... ouch! "License to Ill" came out and the Beasties were enjoying much success and "The Cactus Album" was released shortly thereafter. Many of 3rd Bass' lyrics were aimed directly at the Beastie Boys, as well as MC Hammer.
The follow-up album, "Derelicts of Dialect" had a new target for Nice and Serch in the form of Vanilla Ice. The albums first single "Pop Goes the Weasel" was totally dedicated to the slamming of Vanilla Ice. The video was unforgettable with Henry Rollins doing a spot-on impersonation of Ice while at the end of the video, 3rd Bass lays the royal smackdown! This song actually reached #1 on Billboards Top Rap Singles and even made it all the way to the top 30 on the Hot 100 charts. "Derelicts of Dialect" had officially gone gold!
The last thing 3rd Bass would do before it's ultimate demise was recording the song "Gladiator" for the soundtrack to the MOVIE "Gladiator" starring Cuba Gooding Jr. After that, the group disbanded and the 3 went on to pursue personal endeavors. MC Serch continued on in the music business, working with other artists and evolving his-self. Serch co-wrote and produced tracks on the album "Born Gangstaz" from Detroit Rapper "Boss" and even released an album of his own. Serch's solo album was called "Return of the Product." This album also featured some of the earliest recordings of New York rapper Nas.
Pete Nice and Richie Rich weren't just sitting around either, they got together and released an album in 1993. The album was called "Dust to Dust" and the single "Rat Bastard" contained samples from "The Silence of the Lambs." There was definitely a certain vibe in this album and gave you the feeling there may have been bad-blood between them and Serch... Hmmm. The follow-up to "Dust to Dust" was the album "Kick the Bobo." The album didn't do very well, received little airplay and was pretty much a failure. Neither Nice nor Serch were able to gain popularity outside of 3rd Bass. The guys reunited for a gig at the birthday party for Andy Hilfiger in 1998. Then a year later they performed at Woodstock '99 and released a non-charting single "Hail to the Chief." There had also been talks of a new album "Ichibod's Cranium" but in the end, nothing ever came of it.
Pete Nice finally decided to give it up and opened a baseball memorabilia store in Cooperstown, NY in 2003. He also published a book "Baseball Legends of Brooklyn's Greenwood Cemetery," under his given name, Peter Nash and even made an attempt to secure a location for an official grave site for Negro League players. In 2008, Nice, along with Dropkick Murphy's member Ken Casey, opened McGreevy's 3rd Bass Sports Bar, and was named the best sports bar in Boston. 2009 saw a down-turn for the Prime Minister though, he was hit by Robert Edwards Auction company with a 760,000 dollar lawsuit, and ultimately lost. Pete Nice was found guilty of fraud in connections with his memorabilia shop. Nash lost all of his assets including his Mercedes Benz. To keep the bank from foreclosing on his house, he asked for help from his father. His father, a respected basketball coach and president of Bishop Ford Catholic High school, loaned his son $52,000... FROM SCHOOL FUNDS!!! A 2008 audit proved the funds had been allocated from the school's account to Pete Nash's account. Ultimately, the school felt this was just a poor decision made by someone with a long track record of good, hard work and dedication and Mr. Nash was reprimanded and ordered to pay the loan back. Pete Nice admitted to taking the money, but said he was horrified that he hurt his father and his reputation like that. Nice still owes several creditor's and has stated that no one will get paid until the judgment with the auction company is through.
While things have gone downhill for Pete Nice, MC Serch has steady climbed that mountain. Currently Serch is living in Detroit doing his thing on a Detroit radio show called "Serchlite Saturdays" and is enjoying success. Serch is also involved with the syndicated Hip-Hop forum "The Old Skool Show" which can be heard all across the United States. The Old Skool Show is hosted by Serch and... according to it's web-site... Takes listeners back in the day for a 2 hour ride of classic Hip-Hop and R-n-B joints. Their philosophy is the DJ is the cornerstone, the back-bone(or the drummer) of Hip-Hop. The entire show is mixed by Snoop's old radio mixer and KDAY/KKBT Los Angeles personality, DJ Envius. The show is chocked full of music that will take you back to the 80's and 90's.(a place I like to be.) Serch was also the host of VH1's "Ego Trip's the Next White Rapper Show" a few years ago, and is still heavily involved in all aspects of the music industry. He has blog's that can be found on Myspace and Facebook, and is always talking about something news worthy. MC Serch is a scary intelligent man, he got his stage name because he is always asking questions in an endless "Search" for truth... Hence the name... Serch... GAS FACE!!!!!!!