Celebrity Parents Exclusive: Hip Hop Legend Rob Base
Rob Base is one of the true fathers of hip hop. Since it first hit the airwaves in 1986, Rob’s song, “It Takes Two” has become a cultural phenomenon. Celebrity Parents Magazine met up with Rob and his family, wife April, son Robert Jr., and daughter Dysell, in West New York. Rob spoke to us about hip hop, family, and why he still loves performing “It Takes Two”.
Photos: Gabbeli Photography
How did you get your start?
In 1986, I was rapping and doing block parties in my old neighborhood, Harlem. A few local promoters put me on flyers and I started to get street buzz. I was signed to a record label, and we did a song called “Make It Hot”. Then, we did the demo for “It Takes Two”, and we got picked up by Profile Records. The rest is history.
Who wrote “It Takes Two”?
I did. Our manager had booked a studio for me and EZ Rock to record in, but we didn’t have anything ready. We only had three hours before we had to be in the studio. We went to a friend’s house and listened to a couple of records. EZ Rock liked one beat, and I liked another. We put them together and that’s how “It Takes Two” came out. It was pressure time!
Could you have imagined how big the song would become?
Never. I thought it was something for around the block. I thought it would be big in New York. I really wanted it to be popular in Harlem. And then it went all over! Honestly, I was shocked. It started to get a buzz in the Harlem club Rooftop, and then it branched out into the downtown clubs. I started seeing how popular it was becoming in different markets, like dance, freestyle, hip hop markets. The record hit in every direction.
And 21 years later, it is still as popular as ever.
That’s amazing. A lot of people come up to me and tell me that. I was on the road a few years ago and Jay-Z said to me, “Rob, that was some record you made.”
You paved the way for a lot of upcoming artists, like Jay-Z.
I’m pretty modest. I wouldn’t say that.
But would you agree with it?
Yes, I would agree with you!
What happened next?
After “It Takes Two”, we did the “It Takes Two” album. We had two big hits from it, “Get On The Dance Floor” and “Joy and Pain”.
We toured for a long time, too. We were in Bobby Brown’s tour, and Salt N Pepa and Keith Sweat, too. We did a second album, but EZ Rock wasn’t on that one. The album did well; it went gold. Honestly, I didn’t have enough time to work on it. I was touring all over the world, and it was nonstop. I had to write while I was on the tour bus. My mind wasn’t focused on writing.
Do you write well under pressure?
I write to the music. If I’m feeling the music, the rhymes come out better.
What do you have going on now?
I have a production company called Funky Base, Inc. where I produce up-and-coming artists. Two artists I’m working with right now are K- Boogie & also Kyle Rifkin, whose song “I Remember” is coming out on iTunes on June 16th. I’m also working on a project with my kids. And I’m still touring. I’m on the road every weekend doing shows.
Do you ever get tired of performing “It Takes Two”?
No, never. I love the song, as much now as I did back in ’86. Also, “It Takes Two” pays the bills!
Let’s talk about your family.
My wife, April, and I have been together forever…19 wonderful years. I knew her when “It Takes Two” came out.
Did you write it for her?
(laughs) No! We were friends; she would come to all the parties. She was still really young, though. I had to wait for her!
We have three children, Rob Jr. who’s 17, Dejene, 20, and Dysell, 18. We adopted Dysell when she was very young. She’s actually April’s little cousin, but we raised her since she was 2 years-old. She’s a really sweet kid. All three of them are good kids. We’re lucky.
How do you balance working, touring, and three kids?
It’s easy to balance it all. I only work on the weekends! It’s a beautiful life, to be able to be home with the kids and my wife. I’m not a hang-out party person. I love playing video games with my son; Madden is our favorite. Sometimes my wife wants me out of the house. She’ll say, “Don’t you have another show to do?” But really, I’m a house dad.