Four years ago this week, the democratic and often cheeky spirit of the Internet was in full force, as a grass-roots e-mail campaign vaulted an 11-year-old song by '80s heartthrobs-turned-punch lines New Kids on the Block into MTV's "TRL" countdown.
As a result of the digital drive, numerous Netizens visited MTV's Web site to register write-in votes for "Hangin' Tough" (you remember, it's the song on which NKOTB sing, "Listen up everybody if you wanna take a chance/ Just get on the floor and do the New Kids dance" and then proclaim "We're rough!")
"I know it's a very old, very cheesy song, but just think of how funny that would be! To see an old New Kids on the Block song on the top 10!," one version of the chain e-mail read. Apparently plenty of folks agreed, as the song — which was released in 1988 and topped the singles chart in 1989 — landed at #2 on the "TRL" countdown.
One guy who probably wasn't too thrilled with the "write stuff" campaign was former New Kid Jordan Knight, who was working on forging a solo career in 1999.
" 'Hangin' Tough'? I wouldn't go near 'Hangin' Tough.' I wouldn't touch that one," Knight had told MTV News when asked if the set list for his upcoming tour would feature any New Kids nostalgia.
Meanwhile, rapper Ice Cube, who was gearing up to shoot "Next Friday," had just been cast as the lead in "Pimp," a film based on the life of notorious street hustler Robert "Iceberg Slim" Beck. The movie was to be directed by Kevin Hooks ("Passenger 57") and was scheduled to go into production as soon as work on "Next Friday" wrapped up, but as of this writing the movie has not been released.
In related rap and movie news, Dimension Films had just inked a first-look deal with Loud Films, the movie production arm of Loud Records, home of the Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep and Big Punisher. Though no movies had been green-lighted at the time, a film version based on RZA's solo album RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo was among the projects being considered.
Rappers Naughty by Nature were getting ready to drop their first album in four years in 1999. Like most hip-hop albums of the time (and now), 19 Naughty Nine: Nature's Fury had more collaborators than an Enron executive, including Master P, Silkk the Shocker, Mystikal and Big Punisher.
MTV News caught up with the trio and asked Vinnie Brown to explain how Naughty by Nature convinced so many of their peers to get down with "O.P.P." (other people's projects).
"Well, the thing with [all] the artist collaborations now," he said, "I guess a lot of artists are smarter ... now. A lot of artists were ignorant in the past by 'territorializing' themselves — not wanting to collaborate. But [artists realize] now that it's not about one particular market. One market could be hot this year and be cold the next. So I guess a lot of artists are smarter now in that they're conscious about being diverse and [do so with] collaborations."
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