(Editor’s note: A version of this story was published on the Observer’s website in September, right before the original show date of Sept. 23 was postponed due to the protests and subsequent riots that broke out uptown in the wake of the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.)
Four things we know about Rob Base:
1. He wants to rock, right now.
2. He came to get down.
3. He’s not internationally known.
4. But he’s known to rock the microphone.
We know this because all these years later, it takes just two exclamations to get the hip-hopper’s classic “It Takes Two” – which peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Dance Club chart in 1988 – stuck in your head for an entire day. Shout it with me now: “Woo! Yeah!”
The initial popularity of “It Takes Two” (originally recorded with DJ E-Z Rock, who died in 2014) lasted for so long that even though the track came out in the ’80s, it’s considered by many as a piece of ’90s nostalgia.
And so Base is among the featured acts that form the “I Love The 90’s” tour that time-warps into the Spectrum Center on Sunday night, along with Salt-N-Pepa, Color Me Badd, Coolio, Tone Loc and Vanilla Ice. Base, 48, said he will perform “about three songs,” including “It Takes Two” and another not-from-the-’90s classic: 1988’s “Joy and Pain.”
Anyway, our September phone chat with Base from his home in Fairview, N.J., was neither stoopid nor outrageous, but we did learn four more things about him.
1. Even though he’s performed “It Takes Two” live thousands of times, he still loves it. “Without a doubt, I never get tired of hearing it. I could be walking down the street and somebody drives by playing it in the car – I love it. ... ’Cause a lot of songs that come out nowadays, after two or three weeks, people have forgotten about that song already. So just to have that type of longevity is definitely a blessing.”
2. What he loves about it is the fact that it unites people (on the dance floor), as opposed to dividing them. “All I know is that when people throw the song on, it could be a young crowd, older crowd, whatever type of crowd – when they throw it on, they all get up and dance. ... In the ’90s, especially with our type of music, we definitely had that feel-good music that made you wanna come out and party and have a good time. You weren’t really thinking about going out to the party and getting in no fights.”
3. Base isn’t quite as high on the hip-hop of today. “I listen to ... Drake, and ... you know, who else is out there? Drake. ... Jay-Z. ... You know, I can’t lie, some of the new music, a lot of the artists sound the same to me. I’ll be thinkin it’s Drake, and it’ll be somebody else. Back in the day, you knew who was who. You knew, that’s Coolio, that’s Rob Base, that’s Tone Loc – everybody had they own different style. But now the labels aren’t really out there looking for different sounds. They’re looking for what’s making the money right now.”
4. You won’t find him on “Dancing With the Stars” anytime soon. When we spoke on Sept. 20, he said he needed to catch up on the current season so he could check out tour mate Vanilla Ice’s moves. “He said it’s been hard work, the practicing and the training was real hard, but I haven’t seen it yet.” (The “Ice Ice Baby” rapper was eliminated on Oct. 4, finishing 10th out of 13 celebs.) For his own part, Base didn’t do much real dancing in the “It Takes Two” music video all those years ago, and apparently isn’t about to start now. Asked whether he’d accept an invitation to the show, he laughed, and said, simply: “Nah.”
‘I Love The 90’s’
Salt-N-Pepa (“Whatta Man”), Color Me Badd (“I Wanna Sex You Up”), Coolio (“Gangsta’s Paradise”), Tone Loc (“Funky Cold Medina”), Rob Base (“It Takes Two”) and Vanilla Ice (“Ice Ice Baby”) celebrate the early hip-hop with this nostalgic, hit-filled show.
When: 7 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade St.
Details: 800-745-3000; www.ticketmaster.com.