There was a time when many New York hip-hoppers refused to believe that rappers from Miami could record a gold or platinum album or give them any real competition. That was before 1986, when the 2 Live Crew's debut album, 2 Live Is What We Are, came out on Luther Campbell's Miami-based Luke Skyywalker Records (later renamed Luke Records). This LP did a lot to popularize Florida-style bass music, and like the gangsta rap that was coming from California, it demonstrated that rappers didn't have to be from New York to sell a lot of records. Musically, 2 Live Is What We Are was a definite departure from New York rap -- the grooves are much faster -- and lyrically, the album put booty rhymes on the map. The 2 Live Crew wasn't the first rap group to talk about sex, but this album did take sexually explicit rap lyrics to a new level of nastiness. With X-rated offerings like "Throw the D" and "We Want Some Pussy," Campbell and his colleagues popularized a style of rap that thrives on decadence for the sake of decadence. These tunes are as humorous as they are raunchy; Campbell has often compared the 2 Live Crew's booty rhymes to the off-color humor of Richard Pryor, Andrew Dice Clay, and Rudy Ray Moore -- and, to be sure, there are some parallels. Like those comedians, the 2 Live Crew is genuinely funny -- but only if you have a taste for X-rated humor. Anyone who finds Moore, Pryor, and Clay offensive should avoid the 2 Live Crew as well. But for those who do appreciate that type of humor, 2 Live Is What We Are is a classic of its kind.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson