Whodini

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Whodini
Whodini at Freshfest 2009.jpg
Whodini performing at Fresh Fest in 2009
Background information
OriginBrooklyn, New York City, United States
GenresHip hop, electro
Years active1981–present
LabelsJive/Arista Records
MCA Records
So So Def/Columbia
Associated actsUTFO, Jermaine Dupri, Terminator X, Thomas Dolby
MembersJalil Hutchins
John "Ecstasy" Fletcher
Drew "Grandmaster Dee" Carter

Whodini is a hip hop group that was formed in 1981. The Brooklyn, New York-based trio consisted of vocalist and main lyricist Jalil Hutchins; co-vocalist John Fletcher, a.k.a. Ecstasy (who wore a Zorro-style hat as his trademark); and turntable artist DJ Drew Carter, a.k.a. Grandmaster Dee.[1]

Coming out of the fertile New York rap scene of the early 80s, Whodini was one of the first rap groups to add R&B twist to their music, thus laying the foundation for a new genre - new jack swing. The group made its name with good-humored songs such as "Magic's Wand" (the first rap song accompanied by a video), "The Haunted House of Rock" (rewrite of "Monster Mash"), "Friends", "Five Minutes Of Funk" and "Freaks Come Out at Night". Live performances of the group were the first rap concerts with the participation of breakdance dancers from the group UTFO. Russell Simmons was the manager of the group in the 80s.[2]

The group has released six studio albums. 14 singles of the group hit the charts of the American magazine Billboard. 3 albums of the group were certified Gold by RIAA, and one of them was certified Platinum due to their loud single "Friends" that hit Billboard Hot 100.

Career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Whodini was among the first hip hop groups to cultivate a high-profile national following for hip hop music and made significant inroads on urban radio. They were contemporaries of other hip hop groups such as Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Afrika Bambaataa, Run-D.M.C., The Fat Boys and Warp 9. The group signed with London-based independent record label Jive Records in 1982; they enjoyed a string of hits for several years, mostly charting on urban and R&B radio stations. The bulk of production on their releases was done by Larry Smith, a bass player who also handled much of Run-D.M.C.'s early work.

In 1982, Whodini made a rap story with their debut single "Magic's Wand", an ode to rap radio pioneer Mr. Magic, which became the first rap song to receive a music video.[3] Synthpop and electro pioneer Thomas Dolby helped produced this single. "Magic's Wand" also has the distinction of being one of Whodini's most-sampled songs.

On July 8, 1983, the group released the self-titled album Whodini on vinyl and audio cassettes. On CD, the album was released in the United States only in 2010. The second single, "Haunted House of Rock", was released in time for Halloween, 1983. Whodini combined the goofy fun of The Fat Boys with the virtuosity of Run-D.M.C. to create what is the rap equivalent of horror movies. Heavy on the sound effects, the song is full of references to various famous monsters and boogymen - Dracula, Bloody Mary and the Invisible Man all show up.[4]

Escape[edit]

In 1984, the group released the second album Escape. The entire album was fully produced by Larry Smith. From the laid back groove titled "Five Minutes of Funk" to "Friends", a cynical story of betrayal sampled everywhere from Nas' "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)" to 2Pac's "Troublesome '96", to harder edged singles "Freaks Come Out at Nite" and "Big Mouth".[3]

Many of these songs were also groundbreaking in hip hop culture, as each one of the songs told a unique story from the urban perspective. The album ended up being certified for platinum-level sales by the RIAA, selling over one million albums upon its release.[citation needed]

The instrumental version of "Five Minutes of Funk" was used as the theme music for WNYC TV show, Video Music Box,[5] an influential early hip hop music video show.

The vinyl album is long out of print and the CD (only released twice, once in 1992 and again in 2002) is also out of print and any copies of either of them are valuable to collectors.

On May 17, 2011, a deluxe version of Escape was released on CD with nine bonus tracks.

Back in Black[edit]

In 1986, the group released a third album Back in Black fully produced by Larry Smith. A number of songs from the album received heavy local New York airplay, such as "Funky Beat" and the controversial “I’m a Ho”. “Fugitive” was guitar-driven funk and "Last Night (I Had a Long Talk With...)" was introspective. Paul Kodish, drummer of Pendulum, was featured on the album.

Touring[edit]

From 1982 to 1986, the group was at its most productive; they toured with the more successful bands such as Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, The Fat Boys, and other prominent hip hop, R&B and funk bands. The group was involved in the first Fresh Fest tour, which was the first hip hop tour to play large coliseums nationwide. In July 1986 they appeared at Philadelphia's Spectrum Stadium in front of an audience of 18,000.[6] They were the first Rap Act and Break Dance troop to Tour in the UK and Europe, with UTFO also appearing with them as their break dance act. They played all over Europe to full venues as no one had seen this kind of music before.

Open Sesame and the New School[edit]

By 1987, the group had earned its share of gold singles and albums. With the fourth album Open Sesame, its final release of the 1980s, the group had turned away from their once-playful simple beats and catchy rhymes of the old school and instead became vocally more harder and more instrument-driven, with guitars and horns and bells. They even began to sample, as a snippet of Cheryl Lynn's "Got to be Real" is heard on the song "Now That Whodini's Inside the Joint". Larry Smith produced the entire album except for two tracks, "Be Yourself" and "I'm Def (Jump Back And Kiss Myself)", produced by Sinester.

This new school style had been similarly done almost a year previously on the multi-million selling debut albums by L.L. Cool J and the Beastie Boys, as many groups had already turned to the kind of rap and rock music that crossed over easily, and Open Sesame failed to produce any real hits.

Although the group was still obligated to Jive Records, for the next few years the band eked out its tenure by occasionally only releasing singles, including “Anyway I Gotta Swing It” for the A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child movie soundtrack.

The 1990s to present[edit]

In the 1990s, the band made an attempt at a comeback, and in that same year the group signed with MCA Records and released the fifth album Bag-A-Trix in 1991, which failed to have commercial impact, as it tried again to reinvent using the then-current sound of new jack swing. Larry Smith produced 6 tracks on the album, two of which co-authored with the band Major Jam Productions, which separately produced the other 4 tracks, and Fresh Gordon made music for other 4 songs.

In mid-1994, the group scored a hit single with "It All Comes Down to the Money", which was co-produced by Public Enemy DJ Terminator X on his album Super Bad.

Talks with Def Jam Recordings for a new deal stalled, and in 1996, the group was signed by Jermaine Dupri (mentor-producer of Kris Kross and Li'l Bow Wow) to his then Columbia Records-distributed So So Def Recordings imprint. As a child in the 1980s, Dupri did a brief stint as a dancer for the group.[7]

Their sixth album Six produced one single, "Keep Running Back", and appeared briefly on the R&B chart. The album was fully produced by Jermaine Dupri, except for three tracks, which were created by Dave Atkinson and Andy "Red Spyda" Thelusma.

Since the Six album, the group has not released any new music, but its older songs have been featured in many various old school compilations and three greatest-hits collections have been released: The Jive Collection, Vol. 1 in 1995, Rap Attack in 2003, and Funky Beat: The Best of Whodini in 2006, which featured the seven-minute "Whodini Mega Mix", which was a medley of some of the biggest hits.

In recent years, Whodini still tours occasionally, and its old records still surface on pop and R&B radio, especially during old-school mix shows. The group's records have now become sample sources for contemporary emcees such as Nas, Master P, Prodigy, and MF Doom.[8]

In October 2007, Whodini was an honoree at the 4th Vh1 Hip Hop Honors.

In March 2012, Whodini was featured in Season 5 Episode 3 of the TV One hour-long music documentary series Unsung.

In August 2012, Whodini was presented with the Icon Award by the Underground Music Awards.

In October 2012, Whodini was inducted into the 4th annual Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

On August 16, 2018, the group was awarded the Hip-Hop Icon Award at the 3rd Black Music Honors ceremony held at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, Tennessee.[9]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
U.S.
Billboard 200
[10]
U.S.
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)
[11]
U.S.
RIAA
[12]
Whodini
  • Released: July 8, 1983
  • Label: Jive Records
  • Format: cassette, LP, CD, digital download
Escape
  • Released: November 6, 1984
  • Label: Jive Records
  • Format: cassette, LP, CD, digital download
35 5 Platinum[13]
Back in Black
  • Released: April 29, 1986
  • Label: Jive Records
  • Format: cassette, LP, CD, digital download
35 4 Gold[14]
Open Sesame
  • Released: August 27, 1987
  • Label: Jive Records
  • Format: cassette, LP, CD, digital download
30 8 Gold[15]
Bag-a-Trix
  • Released: March 19, 1991
  • Label: MCA Records
  • Format: cassette, LP, CD, digital download
48
Six
  • Released: September 17, 1996
  • Label: So So Def/Columbia
  • Format: cassette, LP, CD, digital download
55

Singles[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions Album
U.S.
Billboard Hot 100
[16]
U.S.
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs
[17]
U.S.
Hot Dance Club Songs
[18]
U.S.
Hot Rap Songs
[19]
U.S.
R&B/Hip-Hop Streaming Songs
[20]
1983 "Magic Wand" 45 11 Whodini
"The Haunted House Of Rock" 55 27
1984 "Friends"/"Five Minutes Of Funk" 87 4 25 Escape
1985 "Freaks Come Out At Night" 43 25
"Big Mouth" 64 30
"Escape (I Need A Break)" 31
1986 "Funky Beat" 19 Back in Black
"Funky Beat (Remix)"/"Whodini Megamix" 30
"One Love" 10 34
"Growing Up" 58
1987 "Be Yourself" 20 Open Sesame
1991 "Freaks" 73 Bag-a-Trix
"Judy" 65
1996 "Keep Running Back" 69 27 70 Six

Filmography[edit]

Documentary[edit]

  • 1990 – Rapmania: The Roots of Rap (TV Movie documentary)
  • 2004 – And You Don't Stop: 30 Years of Hip-Hop (October 4, 2004)
  • 2012 – Unsung: The Story of Whodini (by TV One) (March 12, 2012)

Television[edit]

  • 1987 - It's Showtime at the Apollo (TV Series) ("One Love") (October 10, 1987)
  • 1987 - Video Soul (TV Series) ("Be Yourself")
  • 1987 - Invisible Thread (TV Movie)
  • 1988 - 1988 Soul Train Music Awards (TV Special) (March 30, 1988)
  • 1987 - Soul Train (TV Series) - episode "Freddie Jackson/Lace/Whodini" ("Be Yourself", "Life Is Like A Dance") (November 14, 1987)
  • 1994 - In the Mix (TV Series) - episode "Hip Hop: Then & Now" (April 24, 1994)
  • 2007 - 4th Annual VH1 Hip-Hop Honors (TV Special) (October 8, 2007)
  • 2018 - 3rd Annual Black Music Honors (TV Special) (September 8, 2018)

Video Collection[edit]

  • 1986 - Back In Black (RCA / Columbia Pictures Home Video)
  • 1990 - Greatest Rap Video Hits (BMG Video / Zomba Video / Jive)

Samples and remixes[edit]

  • The drum beat from "Friends" is sampled in Public Enemy's "Sophisticated Bitch" from the album "Yo Bum Rush The Show".
  • Dr. Dre used the beat of "I'm a Ho" for the Eazy-E song "Boyz-n-the-Hood (Remix)".
  • Bone Thugs N Harmony re-recorded "Friends" and remixed it on The Art of War.
  • The Firm's song "5 Minutes to Flush" samples "5 Minutes Of Funk," and quotes its chorus.
  • Jermaine Dupri's verse in "Welcome to Atlanta" samples the intro to "Five Minutes of Funk".
  • Will Smith's song "Potnas", about friendship, samples "Friends," and quotes its chorus at the beginning.
  • The bassline from "Friends" is sampled in Tupac Shakur's "Troublesome '96". In his unreleased song "Let's Be Friends," he also used the theme of "Friends".
  • "Friends" is sampled in MF DOOM's "Deep Fried Frenz," from the album Mm.. Food.
  • Pastor Troy remixed "Friends" into a song entitled "Benz".
  • Nas used the chorus of the song "One Love" for his song of the same name.
  • The bassline and chorus from "Friends" is sampled in Nas' "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)".
  • In the movie Next Friday, Day-Day and Roach were singing the song "Friends" while being held captive.
  • Ice Cube & Master P's song "You Know I'm a Ho" from The Players Club (soundtrack) is a remake of "I'm a Ho".
  • Beck sampled "Five Minutes of Funk" in his song "Gold Chains"
  • Meshell Ndegeocello covers “Friends” into her song entitled "Come To Me" on her 11th Album "Comet".[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Connolly, John. "Whodini Headlines Peace Hip Hop '09: August 1st". Cityofboston.gov. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Russell Simmons and Rush Productions". rmc.library.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  3. ^ a b "The Best Rap Albums of the '80s (by ROB KENNER, AL SHIPLEY, CRAIG JENKINS, DAVE BRY, DAVID DRAKE, LARRY HESTER, MICHAEL A. GONZALES) October 4, 2018". complex.com. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  4. ^ "The Haunted House Of Rock by Whodini". songfacts.com. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  5. ^ "Video Music Box (1983– )". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2016-01-10.
  6. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 420. CN 5585.
  7. ^ "Hip-Hop Gem: Jermaine Dupri Started Out As A Dancer For Whodini (by HAO NGUYEN) September 6, 2014". stopthebreaks.com. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  8. ^ "Whodini". The-breaks.com. Retrieved 2016-01-10.
  9. ^ "Highlights From the 2018 Black Music Honors (by Cherie Saundersposted) September 9, 2018". ifclapboardscouldtalk.com. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  10. ^ "Whodini — Chart History: Billboard 200". billboard.com. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  11. ^ "Whodini — Chart History: Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums". billboard.com. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  12. ^ "Whodini on RIAA". riaa.com. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  13. ^ "Whodini - Escape on RIAA". riaa.com. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  14. ^ "Whodini - Back in Black on RIAA". riaa.com. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  15. ^ "Whodini - Open Sesame on RIAA". riaa.com. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  16. ^ "Whodini — Chart History: Billboard Hot 100". billboard.com. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  17. ^ "Whodini — Chart History: Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". billboard.com. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  18. ^ "Whodini — Chart History: Hot Dance Club Songs". billboard.com. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  19. ^ "Whodini — Chart History: Hot Rap Songs". billboard.com. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  20. ^ "Whodini — Chart History: R&B/Hip-Hop Streaming Songs". billboard.com. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  21. ^ "Premiere: Meshell Ndegeocello Covers Whodini's "Friends"". Vibe. 2014-05-07. Retrieved 2019-02-09.