Sir Mix-A-Lot parlayed a gonzo tribute to women with large buttocks into hip-hop immortality. But even before he struck crossover gold, Sir Mix-A-Lot was one of rap’s great D.I.Y. success stories.

Coming from a city — Seattle — with barely any hip-hop scene to speak of, Mix-A-Lot
co-founded his own record label, promoted his music himself, produced all his own tracks, and essentially pulled himself up by the proverbial American bootstraps.

Even before “Baby Got Back,” Mix-A-Lot was a platinum-selling album artist with a strong following in the hip-hop community, known for bouncy, danceable, bass-heavy tracks like “Posse on Broadway,” “Beepers,” “My Hooptie,” and “I Got Game.” However, it took signing with Rick Rubin’s Def American label — coupled with an exaggerated, parodic pimp image — to carry him into the mainstream.

Mix-A-Lot had long had a knack for mimicking (and mocking) the pimps he’d watched while growing up in Seattle, and adopted their visual style. He debuted for Def American with 1992ʹs Mack Daddy. The first single went virtually unheard, but the follow-up, “Baby Got Back,” became a pop phenomenon virtually from the moment MTV aired its provocative video. “Baby Got Back” spent five weeks atop the pop charts, selling over two million copies; it also pushed Mack Daddy into the Top Ten, and went on to win a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance.

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