1. Big & Beautiful (1986)
An endless party. Bubbly, crisp, refreshing—like that first sip of champagne. A melee of creativity. As if the cover of James Brown’s “Sex Machine” isn’t genius enough they also give us the tremendous Bond riff “Double O Fat Boys.” It’s a hip hop trailer for the greatest spy comedy never made. They rap in Russian accents! And you believe it!
2. Coming Back Hard Again (1988)
The re-imaginations of “The Twist” and “Louie, Louie” are astoundingly great. The song about Freddy Krueger featuring guest rapping by Freddy Krueger is astoundingly great. And yet, five albums in, did these guys need to lean so heavily on such established properties? Everything between the three tunes mentioned is cool without the nucleus of some massive cultural touchstone.
3. Crushin’ (1987)
Though it speaks to the staggering power of the Fat Boys in 1987 that they could get the Beach Boys to do backup vocals on their remake of “Wipeout” the end result is stilted and dated in a way the remainder of Crushin’ isn’t. Same with the AIDS PSA “Protect Yourself”; a noble gesture, but why is it paired with the insane testicle joke “My Nuts?”
4. Fat Boys (1984)
The debut is packed with fresh rhymes but too many songs break the five minute mark. No surprise a group that started out under the name (the) Disco 3 had trouble navigating away from that genre’s conventions. And there’s something unsettling about the cover art, where it appears the Boys are eating a pizza where smaller versions of themselves are the topping.
5. On And On (1989)
A concept album with no concept and the unnecessary application of Public Enemy style production that makes everything feel claustrophobic. Still, the Fat Boys charisma is there in huge gooey chunks. “School Days” is a classic banger that should have been a million times bigger.
6. The Fat Boys Are Back (1985)
Too loose and sloppy. In a couple songs it sounds like the drum machine fell off a table and they just went with it. Also, major points off for the exclusion of their tremendous entry from the Krush Groove soundtrack, “All You Can Eat.” Instead we get a reggae tribute to…reggae itself?
7. Mack Daddy (1991)
This has to be lowest simply because it’s the one Kool Rock and Buff did without Prince Markie Dee, who apparently took the group’s sense of humor with him when he left. Elements of New Jack Swing keep this exercise as lively as it can be (and there’s at least one Teddy Grahams reference).