Just as superstar performers Beyonce, Rihanna and Jay-Z are constantly atop music charts, a mere generation ago, performers such as Ray Parker, Jr., similarly were heard everywhere. While Chubb Rock, Father MC and Miles Jaye didn't share Parker's blockbuster fame, they too, constructed the music that a generation of listeners boogied down to at parties or chilled out with on dates.
Been wondering about how some of these acts are faring years after their initial success? BlackAmericaWeb.com hopes to answer some of those questions -- and some of those rumors -- with the following four updates.
Long considered one of the East Coast's most dexterous rappers, Chubb Rock (born Richard Simpson) was a former National Merit Scholar who pre-dated Kanye West as the college dropout. Rock launched his rap career in earnest after dropping out of pre-med at Brown University and released his debut album for Select records in 1988. The year 1990 not only opened Rock's "Treat 'Em Right, his biggest tune to date, but also launched the Chubbster -- his nickname, and also the title of another one of his hit three singles from his album "The One" which reached #13 on Billboard's "Top Hip-Hop/R&B" chart.
Although Chubb's infectious party sizzler, "Treat 'Em Right," included referenced to his ample height and girth ("6 foot 4 and maybe a quarter of an inch bigger/Than last year but still a unique figure"), the tune also urged listeners to political consciousness with the plea to "never forget Yusef Hawkins," a 16-year-old black New Yorker who was killed during a racially charged attack in Bensonhurst.
Chubb's prolific recording career slowed down in the late'90's, but the Big Man never stopped performing old-school hits for his fans around the globe.
"I'm in a great place," explained Chubb Rock, 39. "I just started my new label, History Records. We're doing the new album, 'The Grown and Sexy Theory.' We're working on this documentary called 'Old School' that I'm trying to have released January '08. I'm in the middle of writing this book right now. This is a good time for me, man. I'm ready to reenter the system, the game, and finish the report card on a good level."
During the 90's, Father MC represented a merger of hip-hop and New Jack Swing. Born Timothy Brown, the former dancehall reggae performer was discovered and signed by upstart Uptown music executive Sean "Puffy" Combs and was instrumental in introducing Jodeci and Mary J. Blige to the listening public.
"People will probably recognize me from Puffy dancing in my videos (and) Mary j singing in my joint, 'I'll Do 4 U,'" noted Father.
From his 1990 debut album, "Father's Day," the rapper immediately followed with "Close to You" and appeared on the critically acclaimed Uptown CD, "MTV Unplugged." As Father MC's recordings tapered off, he rounded out the decade with a fully nude spread in "Playgirl" magazine.
The new millennium brought a different distinction to Father MC, with several arrests for non-payment of child-support. One of his memorable arrests occurred when the radio shock jock Wendy Williams (then working at New York's Hot 97) set up Father MC to be confronted with police who were called in by the radio host and the mother of Father MC's babies.
Last year, Father MC's appearance on the BET Awards sparked more rumors about his future.
"Right now, I'm about to drop an album. It's called 'The Noise,' he said recently. "I got a position at a major label that's under construction right now. I'll be a major vice president in ten seconds if everything works itself out."
The mellow tunes of Miles Jaye Davis may belie his early start in the Air Force, the singing cop in the disco group Village People or as one of the early protege's of Teddy Pendergrass. His 1988 discovery by Pendergrass lead to Davis' production their successful collaboration, 'Joy', which reached gold status.
Much like his namesake -- the trumpeter Miles Davis -- Jaye has proven to be a distinctive musician, recording 12 different instruments on several of his critically acclaimed CDs. As a writer and classically trained violinist, Jaye has penned, recorded and produced seven chart-topping hits, including "Let's Start Love Over" and "I've Been A Fool For You."
Jaye's reputation as an R&B and contemporary jazz writer has seen him partner with some very notable jazz giants on his musical recordings, including Grover Washington, Jr., Roy Ayers, George Duke, Branford Marsalis, Dexter Wansel and Nat Adderley, Jr. He has also performed with Roberta Flack, Najee, Patti LaBelle, Peabo Bryson, Chaka Kahn, Gerald Levert, The O'Jays and dozens of others.
Jaye has scored more than 40 original compositions, and today concentrates on maintaining his fan base via the Internet.
"You know, I've decided to concentrate more and more of my time and attention to the website, www.milesjaye.com," explained Jaye. "Where traditionally you release one single and one CD at a time, we've decided to drop multiple singles, CDs at the same time. We got a hot new summer single called, 'Still Sexy:' an R&B CD called, 'Time to Get My Mind Right,' a smooth jazz CD coming out with the first single leading called, 'The Truth about Love.' Probably my favorite project right now is a project called, 'Secret Waters, Peaceful Meditations.' There's something for everybody."
RAY PARKER JR.
Although Ray Parker, Jr.'s sessions work as a guitarist led him to be known as "the musician's musician," he is best known to the public for the theme song to the blockbuster "Ghostbusters" movie. However, Parker's musical legacy spans back to his Detroit high school days, when he was a sought-after guitarist playing on a number of Holland-Dozier-Holland productions. After graduating high school, Stevie Wonder tapped Parker to join his 1972 tour with the Rolling Stones.
In 1977, Parker formed a fictional band, Raydio, and their first hit, "Jack and Jill," introduced Parker's signature catchy and infectious music style to the Top 10 on both the Pop and Soul charts. Thus began a string of hits for Raydio that included the smashes "You Can't Change That," "A Woman Needs Love" and "Two Places At the Same Time." Parker also began writing and producing for a number of other artists, and he scored a number one hit in 1982 with New Edition's "Mr. Telephone Man."
By 1982, Parker dropped Raydio and began recording under his name. The hits continued with a more mature sound on "The Other Woman" and "I Can't Get Over You." Then in 1984, Parker scored his first across-the-board, number-one song with the theme song from the Bill Murray movie "Ghostbusters." The tune topped the pop and soul charts for over a month and became one of that year's biggest hits.
The song also became one of Parker's biggest headaches when controversy arose with rocker Huey Lewis over "Ghostbusters"' similarity to Lewis's 1983 hit "I Want A New Drug." Parker settled the lawsuit in an out-of-court agreement with Lewis.
However, after "Ghostbusters," Parker's sales dropped. Although he had two more hits (1984's "Jamie," followed the next year by "Girls Are More Fun"), his 1991 album barely charted.
Today, Parker, 53, says he's invested his earnings and is doing all right for himself. He took time off in the '90s to raise his four children and now performs about 75 times a year.
"Nowadays, I am up to having fun," said Parker. "I do a bunch of concerts now. I made a new record last year; I think it was the longest running instrumental on Smooth Jazz radio. I only want to do things that are fun now. Everyday I wake up, I just want to play with my kids or play with my family."