Awkward Press

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The Faith Project: Tone Loc – Loc-ed After Dark

July 29, 2010 By: and Category: Greatest Hits, Music, The Faith Project

Inspired by their mutual love of the INXS record Kick, Matt and Jeff have decided to take another listen to their favorite classic and forgotten records from the 80s. This is the Faith Project, and it is 100% guaranteed to contain absolutely no analysis of George Michael’s Faith.


Let’s do it.

You know those words. You remember those words. You don’t even have to hear the beat—one of the most immediately recognizable beats of all time—to know what comes next. Not one of you leaning on the carpeted benches at the roller rink didn’t scramble out there when “Wild Thing” came on, I guarantee it.

Yes! Hip hop is back to par-tay! We got pretty worried during those couple of years between Licensed to Ill and Straight Outta Compton. Don’t get me wrong, we ate up N.W.A., too—god did we laugh at all the swearing!—but when Tone-Loc hit the scene it was suddenly like, okay maybe I can play this guy for my mom. Yeah, it’s probably too raunchy for her but it’s on the radio and check it out, he’s a rappin’ Robert Palmer in his video! And Spuds McKenzie!

Tone-Loc brought hip hop to all the white kids who hadn’t yet discovered hip hop through Run-D.M.C. Sure, the Beastie Boys stormed suburbia with “Fight for Your Right” three years earlier, but that song was really more garage rock and besides, they were a bunch of Jewish kids from New York. Tone-Loc was a black guy from LA—home to Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Ice-T, Dr. Dre, the hardcore tough dudes—and all Loc wanted to do was drink potions that made him sexy to girls. He didn’t want to shoot nobody!

The Internet tells me that, in fact, he actually was a gang member too and that his success on the pop charts did nothing but wreck his credibility back home, but I have a hard time believing he didn’t know what he was getting into. It’s very clearly a party album. The songs are about:

  1. getting the party live
  2. doing it
  3. getting the party live
  4. getting the party live
  5. getting the party live
  6. drinking a sexy potion
  7. getting the party live
  8. smoking weed
  9. getting the party live
  10. [instrumental]
  11. hanging out with friends

Every so often he lets us know he’s hard, but in the shadow of “Fuck tha Police” Loc is just covering his bases so he doesn’t sound totally like Young MC. Which he sort of does because his two hits were co-written by Marvin Young, master rap storyteller. I won’t get too far into Stone Cold Rhymin‘ because we’ll probably hit that right around the time we make room for George Michael, but Young MC sure could write a great little story in the span of a verse and Loc plays that off perfectly in “Wild Thing” and “Funky Cold Medina.” His gravelly voice and stoned delivery sell them both in a way that Young definitely couldn’t. That’s what got him on the pop charts. Anybody remember the verses to “You Be Illin’?” “Fight for Your Right?” “Bust a Move?” Clever rap novellas. That’s what did it in the 80s.

It's the 80s and Tone is down with the ladies.

That, and the great production. You probably forgot just how fresh the production is on this album because you sold it for $2.50 on your college campus so you could buy the soundtrack to Singles. It’s the Dust Brothers’ debut (the guys who would go on to do Paul’s Boutique the next year and Odelay a few years after that) and their beats hold up as well as anything. They did seven of the ten tracks on Loc-ed After Dark and they’re all built around spare drum programming and lean soul samples. The tracks sound so classic because they were the templates for a thousand imitators in the years that followed. Surprisingly little on the album sounds dated. If Loc weren’t obsessed with FILA gear in every song, you’d have a hard time placing it.

I listened to this album a lot when it came out, but I apparently would stop after “Funky Cold Medina” because I don’t remember “The Homies” which is the last song and one of my new favorites. It’s built entirely around a Meters sample a la “1 Thing” only seventeen years earlier—seriously, what would hip hop have done if the Meters hadn’t existed?—and it’s all Loc giving props to his friends while they sing along in the background about getting drunk and looking out for each other. Most of N.W.A.’s songs were essentially about the same thing, but Tone was the only one on the West Coast who sounded like he was having any fun doing it.

So call your mom and see if she can dig it out of your bedroom closet for you. Because, you know, she was once like you and she loved to do the wild thing. Remember?

Next page: Jeffrey gets paid to do the Wild Thing!

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3 Comments to “The Faith Project: Tone Loc – Loc-ed After Dark”

  1. Graffiti my sister saw on a wall in the late eighties:


    That is all I have to say.

  2. Incidentally, Loc also played a security guard alongside Toby Huss in two whole episodes of “Newsradio”. For that, he shall always have a special place in my heart.

    So, Ransford, when are you and I going to start some sort of challenge and complete the circle?