In a medium like rap, it helps to have a gimmick, and this Brooklyn trio — originally known as the Disco 3 — had several. While most rappers brag about what great lovers they are, Prince Markie Dee (Mark Morales), Buff Love (Darren Robinson) and Kool Rock-ski (Damon Wimbley) brag about what great eaters they are. In this, their claim to originality is undisputed. Gimmick number two is Buff the Human Beat Box (not to be confused with Doug E. Fresh, the self-proclaimed Original Human Beat Box), who uses lips, cheeks and tongue to create a surprisingly varied array of rhythmic noises. The group’s raps are also gimmicky, while the well-produced (on the early records, by Kurtis Blow) backing tracks employ full-scale instrumentation and were quick to cross rap with reggae and rock. If the Fat Boys weren’t the most talented crew in the business, they were at least consistently good fun.
The Best Part of the Fat Boys is indeed that, as it compiles ten tracks from the first three albums and has everything you’d ever need to hear by them: “Fat Boys,” “The Fat Boys Are Back,” “All You Can Eat,” “Hard Core Reggae,” “Sex Machine,” etc. The more extensive Krush on You repeats seven from The Best Part and adds seven more of the same vintage.
Crushin’, a mild but winning party collection of mainstream cuts with boundless entertainment spirit and unfailing good humor, has the trio’s collaboration with the Beach Boys (“Wipeout”) but few other equally memorable tracks. Coming Back Hard Again starts with a rap adaptation of “The Twist” sung by Chubby Checker and includes a funny version of “Louie, Louie” (in which the rappers discuss the song’s controversial lyrics) as well as “Are You Ready for Freddy,” the theme song for a Nightmare on Elm Street film.
Although On and On has a few enjoyable numbers (the singsong “If It Ain’t One Thing It’s Annuddah,” f’rinstance), this “rappera” — as horrible as the concept sounds, the out-of-gas trio actually does very little with it — is a boring display of tired clichés and uninspired performances, with none of the cartoony crew’s old panache. A futile stab at street credibility, this sorry LP only makes the fading Fat Boys seem hopelessly out of touch.