Rest in peace to one half of the hip-hop duo best known for their energetic hit “It Takes Two”. Hip-hop pioneer producer and DJ E-Z Rock (Rodney “Skip” Bryce) died on April 27, 2014 of diabetes complications. He was 46. His partner was rapper Rob Base (Robert Ginyard), 46, whom he met in the fourth grade. They became instant pals, class clowns and eventually partners. The duo hailed from Harlem, New York.
“I want to rock right now!” is the famous open liner that took the East Coast hip-hop scene by storm in 1988. Coupled with an infectious beat and a banging sample of Lyn Collin’s 1972 funk cut “Think (About It)” (originally produced by James Brown), “It Takes Two” exemplified the golden era in hip-hop. This was an age of birth, when innovative sample-heavy albums came to prominence. (The “Woo! Yeah!” in the song attests to that). Thanks in part to this classic track, the art of sampling and remixing in hip-hop became a staple of the culture that many later artists mastered (i.e. P. Diddy).
“It Takes Two” quickly became a multi-platinum single, peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot Dance Music / Club Play chart. The song has since been sampled by Snoop Dog and others, and has also been featured in movie soundtracks.
Not long after the release of “It Takes Two,” Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock released an album of the same name, which spawned hit singles “Get On The Dance Floor” and “Joy And Pain,” both energetic rap/dance hits. The album went platinum seven times over and peaked at Number 31 on the Billboard 200, which was quite a feat for a hip-hop album at the time. It introduced many new listeners to hip-hop music in the process.
Rob Base spoke to Rolling Stone about fond memories of his friend:
“With ‘It Takes Two,’ we were at a friend’s house and we were just going through a bunch of records. We had to go to the studio that night and we didn’t have anything prepared, but we found and liked the Lyn Collins sample that night… We didn’t think that it would cross over and be as big as it became.”
Although Base and E-Z Rock were accused of being sell-outs because of the song’s success, 25 years later Base acknowledges, “It’s one of the greatest hip-hop songs ever made.” Ironically, the duo’s label, Profile Records, was slow to catch this. The duo actually had to fund their own music video for the song.
“It Takes Two” Music Video
After their massive hit, due to personal and rumored legal problems, the duo disbanded. They reunited in 1994 for the album Break Of Dawn.
“It Takes Two” made Rolling Stone’s 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time.
RIP, E-Z Rock. You will be missed.