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Flavor Flav

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Flavor Flav
Flav performing at New Orleans Jazz Fest in 2014
Flav performing at New Orleans Jazz Fest in 2014
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Jonathan Drayton Jr.
Also known asFlava Flav (incorrect spelling)
Born (1959-03-16) March 16, 1959 (age 65)
Roosevelt, New York, U.S.
Years active1985–present
Member ofPublic Enemy

William Jonathan Drayton Jr. (born March 16, 1959),[1] known by his stage name Flavor Flav (/ˈflvər ˌflv/, FLAY-vər FLAYV), is an American rapper and hype man. Known for his yells of "Yeah, boyeeeeee!" when performing,[2][3] he is a founding member, alongside Chuck D, of Public Enemy, a rap group which has earned six Grammy Award nominations,[4] and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[5]

After spending several years out of the limelight, Flav starred in multiple VH1 reality series, including The Surreal Life, Strange Love, and Flavor of Love.

Early life and education[edit]

Drayton was born in Roosevelt, New York, and grew up in nearby Freeport, two communities within the Town of Hempstead. Drayton is the cousin of former Penn State basketball player Shep Garner,[6] and of Brooklyn MC Timbo King of Royal Fam.[7] He is also a cousin of rappers Ol' Dirty Bastard, RZA, and GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan.[8][9]

He began teaching himself piano at the age of five,[10] and mastered piano, drums and guitar at an early age, while also singing in the youth choir at his church.[11] According to Chuck D, Drayton is proficient in fifteen instruments.[3]

By the time he dropped out of Freeport High School in the 11th grade, he had been in and out of jail for robbery and burglary.[11][12]

Drayton attended culinary school in 1978.[3] Later, he attended Adelphi University on Long Island, where he met Carlton Ridenhour (who later became known as Chuck D).[2] They first collaborated on Chuck D's hip-hop college radio show, then began rapping together.[11] Drayton's stage name Flavor Flav was originally his graffiti tag.[3]



Flavor Flav (often referred to as "Flav") came to prominence as a founding member and hype man of the rap group Public Enemy, which he co-founded in 1985 with Chuck D.[13] A year later, the group released "Public Enemy #1", which brought them to the attention of Def Jam Records executive Rick Rubin. Rubin initially did not understand Flav's role in the act and wanted to sign Chuck D as a solo act; however, Chuck D insisted that Flav be signed with them and the two were signed to Def Jam.[10]

Flavor Flav and helicopter pilot Ray McCort on an MTV shoot in New York City

The group's first album Yo! Bum Rush the Show was released in 1987. Flav served as the comic foil to Chuck D's serious, politically charged style.[11]

The group gained much wider fame with their following release, 1988's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, which went double platinum. By the time the political single "Fight the Power" was released in 1989, the group had become mainstream superstars. Along with Chuck D, the showman of the group and its promotional voice, Flav stood out among the members of Public Enemy as he often got the fans excited, appearing on stage and in public wearing big hats and glasses, and a large clock dangling from his neck.

Flav performing at "The Slaughterhouse" in Malmö, Sweden 1991

The first released track on which Flav rapped solo was "Life of a Nigerian" on Goat Ju JU,[citation needed] although the first hit on which he rapped solo would not come until the 1990 single "911 Is a Joke". During Public Enemy's first years of existence, Flav experienced tensions with group-mate Professor Griff, who never liked Flav's flamboyant stance in what Griff felt should be a serious, politically-challenging group. In 1999, Flavor Flav recorded with DJ Tomekk and Grandmaster Flash the single "1, 2, 3, ... Rhymes Galore". The single stayed for 17 weeks in the top ten of the German charts.[14]

Flav performing in 2009

In 2006, Flav put out his first solo album, titled Hollywood. It was released during the second season of the reality TV dating show Flavor of Love.

On March 1, 2020, Public Enemy released a statement saying that the group would be "moving forward without Flavor Flav," following a disagreement over the group's decision to endorse Bernie Sanders and perform at his Los Angeles rally.[13][15] Flavor Flav denounced the firing, maintaining that he was Chuck D's partner in Public Enemy and could therefore not be fired from it. On April 1, 2020, Chuck D announced that the firing was a hoax.[16] Flavor Flav stated shortly thereafter that he was not a part of the hoax and disapproved of the stunt.[17]


After a hiatus from the music scene, Flavor Flav was invited to participate on VH1 reality show The Surreal Life. During this show, he developed a relationship with actress Brigitte Nielsen.[18] Following the conclusion of The Surreal Life, VH1 gave Flav and Nielsen a show titled Strange Love, which detailed their globetrotting adventure in love. At the end of Strange Love, Nielsen decided to return to her fiancé, Mattia Dessi.

Flavor of Love, which aired for three seasons, is a reality show where Flavor Flav looks for love. The show's success led to spin-offs titled I Love New York and I Love Money. During the third season reunion of Flavor of Love, Flav proposed to Liz, the mother of his youngest son, Karma.[3] The Comedy Central roast of Flavor Flav aired on August 12, 2007.[19] Guests appearing at the roast included: Snoop Dogg, Brigitte Nielsen, Jimmy Kimmel, Carrot Top, Lisa Lampanelli, Ice-T, Jeff Ross, Katt Williams, Patton Oswalt, Greg Giraldo, and Sommore.

Flav played Calvester Hill on the MyNetworkTV comedy series Under One Roof, starring alongside Kelly Perine.[20]

Restaurant owner[edit]

In 2011, Flav partnered with Nick Cimino to open Flav's Fried Chicken in Cimino's hometown of Clinton, Iowa. The two had met through Cimino's brother Peter, who runs Mama Cimino's in Las Vegas and Castle Rock Bar and Pizzeria in Kingman, Arizona. After enjoying the rapper's homemade fried chicken,[21] Peter Cimino began selling chicken wings using Flav's recipe.[22] The founders hoped to start a national restaurant franchise.[21] A mix of squabbling owners, bounced checks, and bad business decisions led to Flavor Flav's Chicken shutting down barely four months after it opened.[23][24] Flavor Flav was not involved in the restaurant's day-to-day operations; Nick Cimino simply paid for Flavor Flav's license.

Flavor Flav's House of Flavor in Las Vegas opened on the rapper's birthday in March 2012.[25] Flavor Flav teamed up with Gino Harmon and Salvatore Bitonti to start a national franchise known as Flavor Flav's Chicken & Ribs, which opened December 21, 2012 in Sterling Heights, Michigan. The business was not affiliated with the previous two ventures Flavor Flav has had in the restaurant business. Flavor Flav's Chicken & Ribs was a casual dining experience with a quick serve attitude. Flavor Flav's Chicken & Ribs closed in July 2013 after being evicted by its landlord for failure to pay rent.[26]

Other TV and media appearances[edit]

Flav in 2012

In 2002, Flav appeared in Taking Back Sunday's music video for their song You're So Last Summer. Flav has appeared as a playable fighter in the 2004 fighting game; Def Jam: Fight for NY. In May 2005, Flav took part in the UK reality TV show The Farm on Channel 5.[27] Also in 2005, Flavor Flav made a guest appearance in the MTV2 surreal black comedy show Wonder Showzen as himself, in the debut episode "Birth". On June 14, 2006, Flav's participation, with WEVR-MRC,[28] in the Lisa Tolliver Show celebration of National Safety Month,[29] earned kudos from Surgeon General of the United States Richard Carmona.[30][31][32]

On November 18, 2009, Flav became a downloadable character in the PlayStation Network's video game Pain.[33] Flav stars in Deon Taylor's horror anthology Nite Tales and Dark Christmas.[34] On May 10, 2010, Flav guest hosted the wrestling show WWE Raw.[35] On August 14, 2011, Flav appeared as a host at the twelfth annual Gathering of the Juggalos.[36]

On January 10, 2012, Flav appeared with his longtime fiancée Liz on ABC's Celebrity Wife Swap. His fiancée traded places with Suzette, the wife of Twisted Sister front-man Dee Snider.[37] On February 5, 2012, Flav appeared along with Elton John in a Pepsi Co. ad during Super Bowl XLVI.[38] On February 11, 2012, Flav appeared as an honorary member of the UNLV Rebellion during the UNLV Runnin' Rebels victory over San Diego State, 65-63. From June to September 2012, Flav co-starred and rapped in the web series Dr. Fubalous.[39] Flav has also appeared in YooHoo & Friends as Father Time.

Personal life and legal issues[edit]

Flavor Flav had his first three children with Karen Ross,[citation needed] three more with Angie Parker,[citation needed] a son with Elizabeth Trujillo, and another child with Kate Gammell.

In 1991, Flav pleaded guilty to assaulting his then-girlfriend Karen Ross and served 30 days in jail, lost custody of his children, and fell deeper into addiction.[11] In 1993, Flav was charged with attempted murder and imprisoned for 90 days for shooting at his neighbor.[3] Later that year, Flav was charged with domestic violence, and cocaine and marijuana charges. His family performed an intervention, and he checked into the Betty Ford Center for an addiction to crack cocaine.[3][11] After Flav's father died of complications from diabetes in 1997, Flav decided to re-enter rehabilitation, this time at the Long Island Center for Recovery. At one point, he broke both arms in a motorcycle crash.[3]

Flavor Flav dated Beverly Johnson, and by 2000, he lived in a small apartment in the Bronx with her and her two children from a previous marriage, while making money scalping baseball tickets.[11] In 2002, Flav spent nine weeks in Rikers Island jail for driving with a suspended license, numerous parking tickets, and tardiness for probation appointments.[3] Following his release from jail, Flav broke up with Johnson and moved in with his mother on Long Island.

Chuck D became concerned about his friend's well-being and, toward the end of 2003, suggested Flav move to Los Angeles. Flav moved into his friend Princess' apartment, and within months met Cris Abrego and Mark Cronin, the creators and executive producers of the reality television series The Surreal Life. The pair sought him out as soon as they heard Flav had moved to Los Angeles. Seeing that he had remained free from his previous addictions, they wanted to cast him. Initially Flav refused, feeling the show was for celebrities past their prime. He was eventually convinced to join by previous participant MC Hammer.[11]

On May 2, 2011, Flav was arrested on four outstanding misdemeanor warrants for various driving offenses.[40] Police said the rapper had two outstanding arrest warrants for driving without a license, one for driving without insurance, and one related to a parking citation.[40][41] Flav has since been released.[40] In June 2011, Flav said on the Australian radio show The Kyle and Jackie O Show that when his drug problem was at its worst, he would spend up to US$2,600 a day on crack cocaine.[42]

As of October 2012, Elizabeth Trujillo, the mother of Flav's son, Karma, lived with Flav in Las Vegas and had been his fiancée for eight years.[43][44][45] On October 17, 2012, Flav was jailed in Las Vegas on felony charges stemming from a domestic argument with Trujillo and his threats to attack her teenage son, Gibran, with a knife.[43][46]

Flav's mother, Anna Drayton, died on December 31, 2013.[47] On January 9, 2014, Flav was pulled over on Long Island's Meadowbrook Parkway for driving 79 miles per hour (127 km/h) in a 55 mph (89 km/h) zone, and was additionally charged with possession of marijuana and unlicensed operation of a vehicle. Authorities discovered Flav had 16 suspensions on his license. He was en route to his mother's funeral.[48]

Flav was arrested near Las Vegas on May 21, 2015. The charges included speeding and driving under the influence.[49]

On July 21, 2019, Flav had his youngest son Jordan with Kate Gammell.[50]


When asked about the significance of his trademark clock necklaces, Flav responded: "The reason why I wear this clock is because, you know, time is the most important element, and when we stop, time keeps going."[51]

Flavor Flav has a penchant for speaking about himself in the third person.


Solo albums
Guest appearances


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  7. ^ @FlavorFlav (December 1, 2012). "Timbo King Y'all ,!!!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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  14. ^ "DJ TOMEKK "1,2,3 RHYMES GALORE" NEW YORK TO GERMANY HI QUALITY". YouTube. February 11, 2009. Archived from the original on December 19, 2021. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
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  16. ^ Christie D'Zurilla (April 1, 2020). "On April Fools' Day, Public Enemy reveals Flavor Flav's firing was a hoax". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  17. ^ Lisa Respers France (April 2, 2020). "Chuck D says Flavor Flav firing was a stunt, but Flav disagrees". CNN. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
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  24. ^ AOL. "AOL Food - Recipes, Cooking and Entertaining". AOL.com. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
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  26. ^ Eakin, Marah (July 26, 2013), "The very last Flavor Flav's Chicken & Ribs location has closed", The A.V. Club, retrieved July 26, 2013.
  27. ^ Iain Hepburn (2005). "Did you see?: The Farm". MEN Media. Archived from the original on November 12, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  28. ^ "Westchester Emergency Volunteer Reserves-Medical Reserves Corps (WEVR-MRC)". Volunteer-center.org. Archived from the original on February 5, 2008. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  29. ^ "National Safety Month". Nsc.org. Archived from the original on June 16, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
  30. ^ Tolliver, Lisa. "Flavor Flav Celebrates National Safety Month". Blogcritics. Archived from the original on February 13, 2009.
  31. ^ "Lisa Tolliver Show notes". tolliveretips blog. Emergency Preparedness and Safety Tips On Air and Online.
  32. ^ "How my radio shows, publications and PSAs in June 2006 - the 10th anniversary of National Safety Month - will help make the world a safer place". Lisa Tolliver On Air and Online. May 28, 2006.
  33. ^ "Bio Flavor Flav". Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  34. ^ "Exit Humanity (DVD)". Dreadcentral.com. June 20, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  35. ^ "TV Shows > Raw > Special Guest Hosts > Upcoming Raw guest hosts". WWE. March 28, 2010. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
  36. ^ Fats Pepper (presenter), Guy Gorfey (April 11, 2009). Weekly Freekly Weekly Special 2011 Gathering Edition (internet news). Detroit, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. Archived from the original on December 19, 2021. Retrieved April 12, 2009.
  37. ^ "TV Shows". March 28, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  38. ^ "Flavor Flav hugs Tom Coughlin/". Sportsgris.com. Archived from the original on May 7, 2016. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  39. ^ Favor Flav Archived June 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, 2012, cast bio for Dr. Fubalous
  40. ^ a b c Martinez, Edecio (May 2, 2011). "Rapper Flavor Flav arrested in Las Vegas on misdemeanor warrants". CBS News. Retrieved May 3, 2011.
  41. ^ "Flavor Flav arrested after traffic stop in Vegas". May 2, 2011. Archived from the original on May 8, 2011.
  42. ^ "このURLのページは表示することが出来ませんでした。 IP分散サーバーならIQサーバー|クラスCの完全分散が月額139円~". austereo.castmetrix.net.
  43. ^ a b "Flavor Flav arrested on assault, battery charges". CNN. October 18, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  44. ^ "Flavor Fav and newborn 7th kid in Hawaii". Blackcelebkids.com. Retrieved June 22, 2021.[permanent dead link]
  45. ^ "Black Celebrity Kids, babies, and their Parents » Flavof Flav fiancee Liz and baby Karma take in a concert in Vegas". Blackcelebkids.com. June 12, 2008. Archived from the original on April 4, 2010. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
  46. ^ "Flavor Flav Arrested In Las Vegas For Assault With A Deadly Weapon". VH1 Insider. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
  47. ^ Fitzgerald, Trent (January 2, 2014). "Flavor Flav's Mother Anna Drayton Dies". The Boombox.
  48. ^ Simon, Darran; Valenti, John (January 28, 2014). "Flavor Flav pleads not guilty in speeding case". Newsday. New York City / Long Island. Archived from the original on April 16, 2014. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  49. ^ "Flavor Flav arrested in Vegas, suspected of impaired driving". Las Vegas, Nevada: KLAS-TV. Associated Press. May 21, 2015. Archived from the original on May 24, 2015. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  50. ^ "Paternity Test Confirms Flavor Flav IS The Father Of 3-Month-Old Boy". HipHopDX. October 27, 2019. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  51. ^ "Pawn Stars: Flavor Flav's O.J. Simpson Statue (Season 14)". YouTube. History. October 23, 2017. Retrieved July 19, 2022.
  52. ^ "Micayla De Ette & Flavor Flav - Write a Song [Music Video Review]". LA On Lock. November 9, 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2020.

External links[edit]