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Album: Loc'ed After DarkReleased: 1988Charted:
This samples Van Halen's "Jamie's Cryin'
." It was not the first time an Eddie Van Halen guitar riff helped a black artist appeal to a white audience: Eddie played the guitar solo on Michael Jackson's "Beat It," which helped make that song a huge hit.
"The Wild Thing" is slang for sex. It was a popular and benign euphemism that worked well in the late '80s when people like Arsenio Hall needed to talk about sex without arousing censors (the phrase "making whoopie" was hopelessly outdated).
This was the first rap song by a black artist to crossover to pop radio, and also the first rap single to be certified Platinum (Tone-Loc's "Funky Cold Medina
" was the second). The Beastie Boys crossed over the year before with "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)
"I think it's a great stepping-stone for hip-hop," Loc told Entertainment Weekly
in 2016. "It opened the door for a lot more listeners, a lot more white listeners. It changed a lot of hip-hop."
Tone-Loc wrote this song with Matt Dike (founder of his label, Delicious Vinyl) and Marvin Young. Young, better known as Young MC, had his own hit soon after with "Bust A Move
Loc, whose writer credit appears as his real name, Anthony Smith, got the idea for the song after watching the 1986 Spike Lee movie She's Gotta Have It
, where hip-hop scenester Fab 5 Freddy tells a woman, "Let's do the wild thing!"
Loc does four verses on this track, each describing an encounter with a lovely lady. The first three end in the wild thing, but the last one doesn't, as he finds out she's a prostitute. He sends her off, telling her, "Hasta la vista, baby." This cold goodbye became Arnold Schwarzenegger's catch phrase in the 1991 movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day
, but Loc wasn't the first to put it in a popular song: Jody Watley said it in her 1987 hit "Looking For A New Love
The original set of lyrics Loc wrote for this song were far more lustful - he says it was about "straight having sex on the beach." To improve the song's hit potential, Loc's bosses at Delicious Vinyl convinced him to, ahem, "tone" it down. The song is still very sexual, but with enough ambiguity and comedy to pass the taste tests of most radio stations.
The video is a takeoff on Robert Palmer's "Addicted To Love
," where blank-staring models pretend to play instruments. A low-budget affair, the "Wild Thing" video relies on a strobe effect and sepia look to conceal production deficiencies like that backdrop that doesn't quite cover the frame.
Tamra Davis, who later married Mike D from the Beastie Boys, was the director. She also did Young MC's "Bust A Move" video.
Weird Al Yankovic wrote a parody of this song called "Isle Thing," which is about the show Gilligan's Island
and can be found on his album UHF - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff