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BLACK SHEEP

Remembered for a couple of striking singles and their membership in the Native Tongues family of groups, Black Sheep also recorded one of rap music's most entertaining debuts, A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. Handling both production and delivery, Dres and Mista Lawnge appeared headed for a long, rewarding career, but unfortunately faded after the release of their long-delayed sophomore set. Both members, Andre Titus (Dres) and William McLean (Mista Lawnge), were natives of New York who grew up in North Carolina, Titus the son of a military man. Both were also hip-hop fans during the mid-'80s, Dres as an MC and Mista Lawnge as a DJ. Looking for a record contract, Lawnge moved to New York -- where he'd spent time as a child -- and played a gig with DJ Red Alert, who introduced him to Mike Gee of the Jungle Brothers. Gee's connection to the newly christened Native Tongues family (headed by Afrika Bambaataa along with Queen Latifah) inspired Lawnge to form Black Sheep and recruit Dres as the group's MC. The duo's first release, "Flavor of the Month," was one of the hottest rap singles of 1991, and the ascendancy of Native Tongues groups De la Soul and A Tribe Called Quest only improved Black Sheep's fortunes. Their debut album, A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, released on Mercury late that year, hit number 30 on the album charts and the next single, "The Choice Is Yours," was an MTV hit (thanks to director Chuck Stone's video) and a surprising success at college radio (aside from specialty shows, rap rarely appeared on college play lists). The album eventually moved close to one million copies, and the pair appeared on the Brand New Heavies' Heavy Rhyme Experience, Vol. 1 next to the era's hottest rappers: Main Source, Gang Starr, Kool G Rap, and the Pharcyde. Black Sheep's follow-up, Non-Fiction, was doomed from the start. Released in 1994, the record received close to zero promotion and lacked the imagination of A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. The single "Without a Doubt" got a little airplay, but the duo split soon after. Both worked on varying projects, and Dres released his solo debut, Sure Shot Redemption, in 1999. (One year later, he appeared in the film Once in the Life, Laurence Fishburne's debut as a director, playing a bagman for a drug kingpin.) Black Sheep reunited to produce a track for the film's soundtrack, toured with Das EFX, and announced the recording of a new album.

 

Artist Bio on Wikipedia

 

Black Sheep is an alternative hip hop duo from Queens, New York, composed of Andres "Dres" Titus and William "Mista Lawnge" McLean. The duo is from New York but met as teenagers in North Carolina, where both of their families relocated.[1] The group was an affiliate of the Native Tongues, which included the Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, and De La Soul. After getting together in 1989, Black Sheep debuted in 1991 with the hit song "Flavor of the Month" and later released its first album, A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, which gained them praise and recognition in the hip-hop community for the album's unique rhythms and intelligent lyrics. After six years together, Black Sheep disbanded in 1995, but decided to reform 5 years later.

Initial career and break up (1989–1995)

Black Sheep was formed in 1989 by Andres "Dres" Titus and William "Mista Lawnge" McLean, who are both from New York but met as teenagers in North Carolina, where both of their families relocated. Black Sheep was the first hip-hop act to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno after the departure of Johnny Carson. They were also one of the first groups to parody gangsta rap (still in its infancy when A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing was released) in the hilariously over the top "U Mean I'm Not." In the song, Dres describes in detail killing his sister, his parents, and his letter carrier. At the end, he is roused from his sleep and tells his friends bewilderedly, "I dreamed that I was...hard."

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing charted three times on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 1992 with "The Choice Is Yours (Revisited)" (#9), and "Strobelite Honey" (#1). Black Sheep was also featured on the remix of Vanessa Williams's single "Work to Do" (#8). The group's relationship with its label, Mercury/PolyGram, allowed Dres to establish a boutique label through which he could sign his own acts. Mercury distributed the imprint, which was called One Love, through PolyGram's Independent Label Sales division rather than PolyGram Group Distribution. However, only one full-length title was ever released, the only album by affiliated act the Legion, titled Theme + Echo = Krill (One Love/Mercury/PolyGram Records 124 029), from 1994.

The group's second album, Non-Fiction, was released later that year. Because of virtually no promotion and a generally poor reception, the album managed only lackluster sales.

[edit] Aftermath and return (1996–present)

Titus and McLean would take a break afterward to work on various independent projects and left the label. This resulted in Dres's solo album Sure Shot Redemption and being billed as Dres the Black Sheep. Mista Lawnge continued to produce music and remixes on other projects such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Subway and others. In 2000, Dres recorded the title track of the movie Once in the Life, in which Dres had an acting role. In the same year, the duo reunited and released an EP called Redlight, Greenlight (EP). It was released two years later and was not covered by the media.

Dres was featured on the second Handsome Boy Modeling School album White People, on the track "First...and Then." In 2006, Dres released an online-only album titled 8WM/Novakane. 8WM stands for Women with Women with Weed with Wine with Me. According to AllHipHop.com, Mista Lawnge has changed the spelling of his name to Mr. Long. He also released a solo project called “The Class of 89” in 2006. Dres appeared on the 1990s remix of Nas' February 2007 song "Where are They Now?"

In 2008, the single "The Choice is Yours (Revisited)" was ranked number #73 on VH1's 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs. The song is currently featured in a commercial for the 2010 Kia Soul.[2]

 

 

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