The culture and the family of hip-hop lost one of its forefathers on Sunday, of causes not yet revealed. As half of the duo MC Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, the 46 year old Rodney Bryce, took the music industry by storm with their 1988 iconic hit “It Takes Two,” produced by Teddy Riley.
Along with “Joy and Pain,” the album It Takes Two become one of hip-hop’s first introductions to mainstream music. Against much scrutiny of selling out, the duo took the chance of creating a pop- and R&B- influenced song around vocals sampled from Lyn Collins’ 1972 hit “Think (About It). Rob Base told The Boombox, “Well, I know definitely I was one of the first artists to do the hip-hop and R&B thing. When we did it, I just wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to do the same thing that the other groups were doing at the time. So we just did it that way and I really didn’t care what people said. There were a few groups that were saying, ‘Oh, you’re selling out. You’re this, you’re that.’ And I look at them now and they can’t even get one show.”
Taking the risk paid off, the album was certified platinum in 1989 and reached Number 31 on the Billboard 200, something very little hip-hop albums were achieving at that time. Still being played on radios, in clubs house parties and school dances around the world, twenty six years later, “It Takes Two” has been sampled by artists the likes of Snoop Dogg, Will Smith, Gang Starr, Girl Talk and South Korean girl group 2NE1, featured in the soundtrack to the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and in a scene in Sandra Bullock’s 2009 romantic comedy The Proposal.
Growing up in Harlem, Rob Base and E-Z Rock, all the way back in 5th grade, would watch other groups perform together and decided they could do it too, so as Bryce told Pennsylvania newspaper The Morning Call in 1991, he “bought a set of turntables, and he [Rob Base] bought a mic.
E-Z Rock said, the duo sent “It Takes Two” to hip-hop label Profile Records and received a call from the label the next day. “At first, it was kind of weird because we only had one record,” Rock said of the group’s first hit “Make It Hot.” “We would open up for people and get on for 15 minutes doing that one song. Then, when ‘It Takes Two’ came out, we started headlining.”
Although EZ- Rock did not appear on Rob Bases solo album 1989’s The Incredible, the two did reunite for 1994’s Break of Dawn.
Many people in the hip-hop industry have taken to twitter and other social media with their condolences such as Naughty By Nature’s Uncle Vinnie who tweeted, “R.I.P. to Harlem’s own DJ EZ Rock from Rob Base. They paved the way other Harlem Groups…”, Biz Markie tweeted “R.I.P. to EZ Rock from Rob Base and EZ Rock. You will truly be missed.”, Def Jam Records tweeted, “RIP DJ E-Z Rock”, and Rob Base himself tweeted, “R.I.P Skip (DJ E-Z Rock) my friend. My brother.”