Who Dat Rapper 12-11-16
Brooklyn representer Little Shawn got his start in the late 80’s. He linked up with one of hip hop earliest super producers Howie Tee. Howie was mostly known from his work with wordsmith, Chubb Rock and creating the sound to Color Me Badd’s smash “I Wanna Sexx You Up.” One of his earliest productions was Little Shawn’s first single, “Heartbreak Hotel” in 1987. Little Shawn then reappeared in 1990 on hip hop’s first pretty boy, Special Ed’s sophomore album Legal on the posse cut: “Five Men and a Mic”
Special Ed – 5 Men and a Mic
The Voice in the Mirror
Little Shawn released his debut album in 1992, The Voice in the Mirror and one look at the album cover you knew what to expect. He was dressed in a silky, unbuttoned shirt, a cross around his neck facing the bedroom mirror with a lovely lady in front of him. He was going to show his love for the ladies, LL style. No gunplay on this album.
Songs like “I Got What U Need”, “Say What U Wanna Say”, “Tanya’s Freakin Me” and “Why Ya Gotta Act That Way” are all Howie Tee productions and geared toward the ladies and the dance floor. “I Got What U Need” is a smooth grove and samples Ralph Tresvant’s classic “Sensitivity.” “I Made Love (4 the Very 1st Time)” is my favorite in his discography. The After 7 vocal sample on the hook was hypnotic and was a great blend of hip hop and the New Jack Swing R&B that ruled the late 80’s early 90’s.
Little Shawn – I Made Love (4 the Very 1st Time)
Hickeys On Your Chest
Little Shawn became immortalized in hip hop history with his single “Hickeys On Your Chest”. The song was nothing different than anything on his album. An upbeat jam focused on the ladies. But ever wonder what Notorious B.I.G. was talking about when he rhymed on “Party and Bullshit”:
Cant we just get all along
So I can just put hickeys on your chest like Little Shawn
Get her pissy drunk off of Dom Perignon
Little Shawn would make use of that last line a couple years later.
Little Shawn – Hickeys On Your Chest
Notorious B.I.G – Party And Bullshit
Little Shawn showed up in 1994 on the legendary Heavy D’s ‘Nuttin But Love’ album. That record opened with “Friends and Respect”. Over a beautiful instrumental, Heavy D’s friends (including Queen Latifah, Martin Lawrence, Spike Lee, Kool G Rap, Little Shawn among other influential artists) explain their love for The Overweight Lover. No bars, no lyrics, just some heavyweights showing love to Hev. Halfway through your first listen, you realize you just shed a tear due to the fact he is no longer with us. RIP Heavy D.
Heavy D – Friends and Respect
Little Shawn released his biggest single, “Dom Perignon” in 1995. The familiar Kool & The Gang sample and a B.I.G. vocal on the hook created a party anthem that made you grab a girl named Akaiya and grind on her for the rest of the party. All the Biggie fans recognize that vocal sample was lifted from his “Party & Bullshit” line. This song actually landed on the soundtrack to one of the greatest TV Shows in American History, New York Undercover.
Little Shawn – Dom Perignon
Little Shawn found himself infamous in 1994 when he was arranged to have the immortal Tupac join him in a recording session in Manhattan. Before Pac could make it to the elevator to head to the studio, he was robbed at gunpoint and shot multiple times. Tupac blamed Little Shawn among others and that’s evident on his scathing diss song “4 My Niggas” featuring the feisty Storm. Not as popular as “Hit Em Up”, but this George Benson sampled gem is just as potent.
2Pac – 4 My Niggaz
This incident was followed by Little Shawn being convicted to a five year federal prision sentence for drug trafficking. A few years ago he reappeared as Shawn Pen and released a pair of singles. He hooked up with Styles P on the rough “Bout That Life.” “Respect Me” was a funky tour through Shawn Pen’s world. The hard bassline and the lovely lady on the hook created an enjoyable experience a little different than his work in the 90’s. This sounds eerily similar to B.I.G.’s “Friend Of Mine”
Shawn Pen – Respect Me
So if you ever hear a song or see one of his videos and you think, Who Dat Rapper? That’s Little Shawn….forever linked with 2 of hip hops greatest.
WHO DAT RAPPER? is a weekly column featuring oft-forgotten and slept on Hip-Hop artists. Do you have a suggestion? Comment below.
Who Dat Rapper 12-11-16