The late ’80s was a wildly creative time for hip hop music. With The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, which was the first rap song to crack the Billboard top 40, less than a decade old, up-and-coming artists were breaking new ground on a regular basis.
You had Run-D.M.C. experimenting with the rap-rock sub-genre, and then perfecting the formula with their third album, Raising Hell, which also became the first rap album to be certified platinum. Meanwhile, Public Enemy’s Chuck D was so inspired by Eric B. & Rakim’s “I Know You Got Soul” that he locked himself in a studio until he created the timeless “Rebel Without A Pause.” Then there’s The Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill which became the first hip hop release to top the Billboard charts.
The point is, the late ’80s was an incredible time and artists were breaking through every other week, artistically as well as commercially. While all this was happening, there was a West Coast rapper going by the name of Tone Loc, who was making a lot of noise with his 1989 single, “Wild Thing.”
Released in 1988 via independent record label Delicious Vinyl and featured on Tone Loc’s debut album, Lōc-ed After Dark, “Wild Thing” peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1989 and quickly sold a million copies, becoming the first rap song to be certified platinum.
The single was produced by Matt Dike and Michael Ross with additional writing credits from Young MC, best known for his 1989 hit “Bust a Move”. The album itself also did very well on the charts, hitting number one on the Billboard 200 and spawning other successful singles – “Funky Cold Medina” and “I Got It Goin’ On.”
Tone Lōc: People still to this day are like, “Oh my God, the first time I had sex was to that song!” People who graduated from Penn State still want me to come back and do that song because it reminds them of just having a crazy-ass time in college. [But] I think it’s a great stepping stone for hip-hop music, to tell you the truth. It opened the door for a lot more listeners, a lot more white listeners. It changed a lot of hip-hop.Tone Lōc reflects on ‘Wild Thing’: ‘It changed a lot of hip-hop’ | EW