July 14 in Hip-Hop History: Too Short, Monica, Taboo + More
We take a look back at an R&B star, a Black Eyed Pea, a teller of pimpin' tales, a classic duet between feuding starlets, an intergalactic album release and the first words of a man released from incarceration, in today's hip-hop history rundown.
July 14, 1975: Tiny Harris Is Born
Tameka "Tiny" Harris, who rose to fame with the group Xscape, was born in Jonesboro, Ga., on this day in 1975. In 1992, Jermaine Dupri discovered the talented teenager singing at his birthday party while she was still a student at Tri-Cities Performing Arts High School, and signed her to his So So Def Recordings. She all three of the group's platinum albums and won a Grammy for penning TLC's hit "No Scrubs" with fellow former Xscape member Kandi Burress. In 2010 Tiny married Atlanta rapper T.I. after ten years of dating. The couple has three children together, King, Major, and Heiress, and along with their other four children from previous relationships, they starred in the VH1 series "T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle." The show ended after six seasons following Tiny filing for divorce from T.I. due to his infidelity.
July 14, 1975: Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas Is Born
Jaime Luis Gomez, otherwise known as Taboo, was born on this day in Los Angeles, Calif. In 1995, he hooked up with fellow Angelenos William Adams (will.i.am) and Allan Pineda (apl.de.ap), and singer Kim Hill, to form the Black Eyed Peas. Hill eventually gave way to Fergie, and a stadium-filling hip-hop juggernaut was born. In 2014, he was diagnosed with stage 2 testicular cancer, but underwent aggressive treatment and is now cancer-free.
July 14, 1992: Too Short Releases Shorty the Pimp
Debuting on the Billboard 200 albums chart at No. 6, Shorty the Pimp detailed in very clear, concise language the life of a pimp and his treatment of those in his employ. However, it was not a life on the street that gave Too Short (real name Todd Shaw) such insights; it was an adolescence spent reading books by the likes of blaxploitation authors Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim.
"The books are filled with a lot of street knowledge," Shaw told the New York Times. "They really recall an era. I don't just get up and say I'm a pimp. There's a lot more to it than that. I'm interested in the state of mind, in the pimp attitude."
Regardless of the authenticity of his stories, Too Short's music has proven its staying power; the track "In the Trunk" can be heard in Marvel's Black Panther film.
July 14, 1998: The Boy Is Mine Is Released
Monica released her sophomore album The Boy Is Mine, on this day in 1998. The boy may be hers, but 20 years later, ownership of that titular track is still a cause for debate — and some music industry drama. The song, a duet between Monica and Brandy, was the first single from Monica's album, as well as Brandy's Never Say Never, which was released a month earlier. The track spent 13 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, becoming the best-selling song of the year and winning a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group.
A feud began in 1998 when Monica assaulted Brandy, reportedly over a hand gesture in their joint music video. They seemed to have reconciled in 2012 when they appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine together and later collaborated again on the female empowerment anthem "It All Belongs To Me."
In 2015, Monica responded to rumors that the feud had been over the fictional "boy" in the song, saying "People are still asking, 'Who got the boy?' and there was no boy! We played up the dramatics of it all, but we were 16 and 17 — there was no boy, no beef." She admits, however, that "It started off as brilliant marketing, and people started creating these skits, and then our fans divided, and it became this real thing."
But Brandy rekindled their beef at the 2018 Essence Fest in New Orleans, where she performed the song, changing the lyrics from "the boy is mine" to "the song is mine," which also spurred some subtweeting.
Brandy could claim it was her right to change a few words in the song; she co-wrote "The Boy is Mine," along with LaShawn Daniels and Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins. A solo version was recorded for Never Say Never before Monica was added to play up on the feud rumors.
July 14, 1998: The Beastie Boys Put Out Hello Nasty
"Intergalactic," the lead single from the Beastie Boys' fifth album, blasted off in May 1998, two months before Hello Nasty dropped. The song contained everything everyone loved about the Beasties, from its inescapable hook to the intricate rhymes from all three MCs, to the esoteric sources of its samples (everything from The Toxic Avenger theme to a Rachmaninoff prelude).
Hello Nasty debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, with almost 700,000 copies sold in its first week. It was a full cornucopia of such oddities and awesomeness, from the old-school braggadocio of "Three MC's and One DJ," to the party-down anthem "Body Movin'," to the psych-pop ballad (?!) "I Don't Know." It captured the Beastie Boys in full flight and still sounds fresh, 20 years on.
July 14, 2009: John Forté Drops StyleFREE
John Forté was a compatriot of the Fugees — a writer and co-producer of several songs on their instant classic The Score — when he was arrested in 2000 for accepting a briefcase containing $1.4 million worth of liquid cocaine and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He served seven years before being pardoned by President George W. Bush, and when he got out, he made StyleFREE, the EP. The album has social consciousness at its core and is filled with inspiring verses that speak to Forté's circumstances while locked up.