Heavy D Tells Some Untold Stories About Cutting Classic Records & Self-Love (Video)
November will mark the fifth anniversary of Heavy D’s death, a loss which continues to elicit pangs of grief throughout the Hip-Hop community. The money earnin’ Mount Vernon native made his indelible mark as a Jamaican-born MC whose contributions in the late ’80s and early ’90s with Heavy D & the Boyz spawned such classic material as “Mr. Big Stuff,” “Somebody for Me,” “Now That We Found Love,” “Got Me Waiting,” and more. Having also established a successful solo career that began with 1997’s Waterbed Hev, Heavy D is the latest subject of True Hip-Hop Stories, a program presented by Boogie Down Productions founding member D-Nice. Past subjects in the series include Big Daddy Kane, Monie Love, Pharoahe Monch, Special Ed, and a host of other tremendous legends, but for obvious reasons, Heavy D’s episode is particularly poignant.
The touching homage begins in Heavy D’s own words as he reclines comfortably in a chair reciting the lyrics to “The Overweight Lover’s In The House” in a cappella form. The entire video interview is filmed in this casual setting, which lends it an air of humility, in that it feels more like a friend-to-friend conversation rather than an artist-to-fan interview. As he discusses the story behind the recording of the iconic single from Heavy D & the Boyz’ 1987 debut Living Large, he shares anecdotes about its production, reminiscing about how Marley Marl’s sampling for that song drew from the same source as Eric B. & Rakim’s “I Ain’t No Joke.” Both of the classic cuts sampled the J.B.’s “Pass the Peas,” but in different ways. As D explains, “what Eric B. & Rakim did was they took the loop and they used two bars for it…and Marley wanted me to redo it.” After expressing his feelings that “something was missing” from the beat, he described his own feelings about what would make the track really pop for his version. “I would always need a melody, and I love changes, progressions, and chords and stuff, and so I was struggling.” However, unsurprisingly, Marley Marl brought his attention to a segment in “Pass the Peas” that would find its way into “Overweight Lover.” “Marley just happened to let the record keep playing,” at which point D mimics the part of the record which “inspired me melodically.”
Around the 4:33 mark, Heavy D frankly shares his experiences dealing with his weight, and how it affected his career. “Being a guy who was a plus-size rapper, if you will, I never looked at myself as outside of the normal person. I guess it was part of the appeal, like I believed everything that I was saying. I knew I was a big guy, but I didn’t really consider myself to be this person who was unable to…I was just cool with my size. I was proud of it,” he shares. “Even to this day, even though I lost a lot of weight, I still like being a big guy. But I remember early on goin’ I can’t keep doin’ this. I can’t keep making records like ‘Mr. Big Stuff’ and ‘Chunky but Funky,’ you know, focusing just on a big rapper. And by the time we got to the second album, Big Tyme, I was more into making full on records with concepts and direction and purpose.”
Further stories are told about how “Overweight Lover” got its title, how Heavy D and the Boyz would rehearse in his mother’s living room, why Run-D.M.C. was the pinnacle of inspiration for him, and more. Rest in Peace, Heavy D, and thanks to D-Nice for sharing the footage.