by Onyx

Album: Bacdafucup (1993)
Charted: 4
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  • This song is about slam dancing, making it the first hip-hop hit on the subject. It's very aggressive, compelling the listener to crash into whatever is nearby, especially if it's another person.

    Slam dancing is a staple of thrash metal and punk rock, genres that seem at odds with hip-hop but really aren't so different. Beastie Boys producer Rick Rubin proved this when he brought in Slayer guitarist Kerry King for their 1986 track "No Sleep Till Brooklyn;" then in 1991 Anthrax teamed with Public Enemy on "Bring The Noise."

    In the '70s and '80s, rap had more in common with disco, but by 1993 strains of it were rather pugnacious; just as thrash branched off from metal, gangsta emerged as a rap subgenre. "Slam" became a surprise hit in the summer of 1993 and made a mark as a cultural milestone.
  • Onyx was mentored by Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC, who helped get them a deal with his label, Def Jam (co-owned by Rick Rubin). He produced "Slam" along with his associate Chyskillz, a newcomer who went on to work with LL Cool J and Run-DMC. The song was written by Chyskillz along with group members Fredro Starr, Suave, and Sticky Fingaz, who each take a verse. Those verses are mostly rapid-fire flex to keep the energy going until that famous gang chorus comes back around: "Slam! Da duh duh..."
  • The music video is filled with low riders, stage diving, and lots of people mashing into each other. Instead of going with a director steeped in hip-hop, Onyx used Parris Mayhew, who became the first to put slam dancing in a video when he made one for his hardcore band Cro-Mags in 1986 ("We Gotta Know"). Mayhew told Songfacts about making the video.

    "I got the job primarily because there was slam-dancing in my videos," he said. "In their wisdom, sitting at the record company, they didn't think, 'We need a great cinematographer or director.' They needed somebody who understood slam-dancing! But I had already proven myself a little bit making those other videos.

    So, I got called in to do 'Slam,' and I had this meeting with Lyor Cohen up at Def Jam, and he gave me this crazy song and asked me to write a treatment – and I did. They loved the treatment, we shot the video, and it became the longest-running #1 on MTV ever. It was #1 on Yo! MTV Raps for about six months before it went to MTV's Most Wanted, where it was #1 there I think another five months or something ridiculous like that. It was the song of the year. And that launched my career as a hip-hop music video director."
  • The first single from Onyx' debut album, Bacdafucup, was "Throw Ya Gunz." It was a minor pop hit, reaching #81 on the Hot 100, but a #1 on Billboard's Rap chart. "Slam" was the next single; it was also a #1 Rap hit but crashed into the Hot 100 at #4. Both songs were curated for radio by remaining free of vulgarity or anything too offensive. Most of the songs on the album are not for sensitive listeners.
  • Onyx released a version with the metal band Biohazard called the "Bionyx Remix," which also got a video directed by Parris Mayhew. This version has live drums and guitar weaving in and out.
  • "Slam" was by far the biggest hit for Onyx. Their next two albums got even harder and raunchier. They sold respectably, but nowhere near the level of Bacdafucup, which went Platinum. Their 1998 track "React" features 50 Cent in his first appearance on a major-label release.


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