Sir Mix-A-Lot parlayed a tribute to women into hip-hop immortality. But even before he struck crossover gold, Sir Mix-A-Lot was one of rap’s great D.I.Y. success stories. Coming from a city — Seattle — with barely any hip-hop scene to speak of, Mix-A-Lot co-founded his own record label, promoted his music himself, produced all his own tracks, and essentially pulled himself up by the proverbial American bootstraps. Even before “Baby Got Back,” Mix-A-Lot was a platinum-selling album artist with a strong following in the hip-hop community, known for bouncy, danceable, bass-heavy tracks indebted to old-school electro. However, it took signing with Rick Rubin’s Def American label — coupled with an exaggerated, parodic pimp image — to carry him into the mainstream. Perceived as a one-hit novelty, he found it difficult to follow his breakout success, but kept on recording.
Sir Mix-A-Lot was born Anthony Ray in Seattle on August 12, 1963. An eclectic music fan but a rabid hip-hop devotee, he was already actively rapping in the early ’80s, and co-founded the Nastymix record label in 1983 with his DJ, Nasty Nes. His first single was 1987?s “Posse on Broadway,” which referred to a street in Seattle, not New York. The video for “Posse on Broadway” landed some airplay on MTV, and became Sir Mix-A-Lot’s first national chart single in late 1988. He debuted for Def American with 1992?s Mack Daddy, whose first single, “One Time’s Got No Case,” was a critique of racial profiling by police. It went virtually unheard, but the follow-up, “Baby Got Back,” became a pop phenomenon virtually from the moment MTV aired its provocative video (which was eventually consigned to evening-hours only). Since then Sir Mix-A-Lot has continued to release new tracks and work on other artists he wants to bring to the world under the Rhyme Cartel records label.