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WATCH: Sir Mix-A-Lot on Northwest Hip-Hop

As Sir Mix-A-Lot celebrates his birthday, we look back on a 1999 oral history interview the legendary rapper did with the Museum of Pop Culture in which Sir Mix-A-Lot, who hails from Seattle, shares some of his first influences and introductions to the hip-hop genre.


"When it started, when hip-hop itself started, which was 'Rapper's Delight,' Seattle was like, wham! I remember being on the school bus going to school and this guy named Benny used to get on the bus every day, 'hip hop hippie to the hippie to hip,' and I'm like, 'Argh!' I hated it initially, because I hated Benny, man, was like, 'Could you please stop playing that song?' It was like constantly this remix of chic all day.

"And then it started to grow on me. It was kind of weird, because hip-hop started out as just kind of a thing to do at a house party. You know, you're rapping and just freestyling over the top of the disc and all that. Then you had groups like Kraftwerk and DEVO and Gary Numan doing this, at the time they called it 'new wave.' Then new wave turned into something crazy. At the time they called it new wave and we started to learn how to do our own beats and get away from scratching other people's stuff. We started getting into these drum machines that Kraftwerk and everybody was into because we couldn't afford bands. And boom, in my opinion, the two genres kind of merged and they just called it hip-hop. Started out, it was just rap.

For “Rippin'” from Sir Mix-A-Lot's 1988 album Swass, he borrowed from Kraftwerk’s 1981 single “Numbers”

"And then, hip-hop... a culture started. The pants, the hairdos, the breakdancing, the DJing, the slang, and I knew when it took off it would never die because when I was 12, 13 years old, a kid in the inner city, I don't care what color he is, we had nothing to listen to, nothing we could identify with. We couldn't identify with somebody singing about a romantic evening in Paris and we couldn't identify with somebody biting the heads off of bats. There was nothing there for us. So when hip-hop came about, I knew. I said, 'This is never going to die. As long as you've got kids in big cities, it's never going to die.' Then it went out to the suburbs, which is where Mix-A-Lot comes from, you know what I mean?"


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The Museum of Pop Culture’s mission is to make creative expression a life-changing force by offering experiences that inspire and connect our communities.

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