Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
They were just two
guys named Chris, but after meeting in high school they became a hip-hop
Kid 'n Play.
Christopher “Kid Coolout”
Reid and Christopher “Playboy” Martin were part of rival high school hip-hop
groups: The Turnout Brothers and The Super Lovers. Meeting during a
competition, the two hit it off and after their respective groups broke apart they
formed their own in 1986. Initially called The Fresh Force Crew, they had
recorded two songs before officially changing their name to Kid ‘n Play in 1987
comprised of shortened versions of their respective nicknames.
Kid ‘n Play teamed up
with Hurby “Love Bug” Azor, also a former member of The Super Lovers, who
became their manager and producer. Azor also managed rap trio Salt-N-Pepa, for who
Kid ‘n Play were once popular background dancers for. Signing with Select Records, the duo produced three albums between 1988 and 1991: 2 Hype, Funhouseand Face the Nation(which was co-produced
by Elektra Records). Each album featured positive lyrics backed by pop-friendly
instrumental tracks. Their stage show was a hit with the teenage crowds,
utilizing specialized dance moves dubbed the Kick Step and the Funky Charleston. But, the most well-known trademark
of theirs was probably Kid’s hi-top fade haircut, which at one point rose as
high as ten inches from his head.
In 1989, Reginald Hudlin wanted to reproduce his award-winning Harvard University student film on
a bigger scale and turned it into the 1990 movie House Party, released by New Line Cinema. Originally written for DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince and offered to them by New Line as part of a
settlement over the copyright infringement case of their single “Nightmare on My Street.” Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince weren’t thinking about movies at
the time and passed (ironically, The Fresh Prince, aka Will Smith, would
eventually go on to make a very lucrative career in the movie industry). Kid ‘n
Play ended up taking the lead roles, as recommended by Azor, and using their energetic
performances to propel the movie to a box office hit. Made for a modest $2.5
million, the film would go on to gross over $26 million. A less-favorably
reviewed sequel, House Party 2, was
made and released in 1991. Produced on double the budget of the original, it
became a financial success by grossing over $19 million.
Kid 'n Play animated.
With their fame
riding high, it was decided to bring the duo to Saturday mornings with their
own animated series developed by Cynthia Friedlob and John Semper. While
providing the theme song and appearing in live wraparound segments, Kid ‘n Play
didn’t voice their animated counterparts. Instead, their roles were played by
Christopher Hooks and Brian Stokes Mitchell respectively. In order to attract
the pre-teen audience, the duo was portrayed younger but with their current
career intact. Azor, renamed “Hurbie” for the series, was still their manager,
albeit goofily portrayed, and played by House
Party co-star and then-relatively unknown comedian/actor Martin Lawrence.
The series has often been compared to Fat Albert, in that it featured kids in
an urban setting engaging in adventures that had a positive moral message for the
viewers. Joining the duo were their backup dancers Lela (Dawnn Lweis), Marika
(Play’s sister) and Downtown Patty (both Cree Summer); their DJ Wiz (Lawrence); Kid’s tomboy little
sister Terry (Alaina Reed-Hall); and rivals Acorn (Tommy Davidson) and Pitbull
(J.D. Hall), who would engage in practical jokes and sabotage of the duo out of
Ad for NBC's 1990 Saturday morning line-up.
Premiering on NBC on September 8, 1990, the show only
lasted a single season of 13 episodes before it was cancelled. A major
contributing factor was it was scheduled opposite two ratings powerhouses on
the rival networks: CBS’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtlesand ABC’s Beetlejuice. Interestingly
enough, Kid would go on to say NBC offered them a sitcom, but the duo turned it
down in anger over their cartoon being cancelled. That show instead went to
Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith, becoming the career-launching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Marvel Comics would publish a series
based on the cartoon in 1992 that ran for nine issues.