Sample Sunday Vol. 7: Dennis Edwards & Eric B. & Rakim/Notorious B.I.G/2Pac

Dennis Edwards was born in 1943 right outside of Birmingham, grew up singing in his father’s church (he started at age two, which is way too early to be singing in a church choir. Either you sound awful, because you’re two, or you sound really good, like a man or something, and it’s super-creepy. If I go into a church and a two year old is singing in the choir, I’m moving to the pew right next to the door, so I can run out as soon as whatever the next terrifying step is starts to go down). The Edwards family moved to Detroit when Dennis was ten, and as we all know, if you complete the “Be born in Alabama” / “Have your father be a minister” / “Move to Detroit” trifecta, you have no choice but to eventually become an R & B singer.

To the surprise of nobody at all, Edwards signed with Motown in 1968, and they assigned him to join a group called the Contours. The Contours opened for the Temptations on tour, and The Temptations had gotten sick of lead singer David Ruffin (he got hooked on coke, got a private limo and refused to travel with the group, wanted to change their name to “David Ruffin and The Temptations,” things like that), so they kicked him out of and replaced him with Edwards.

Now, Ruffin had grown quite accustomed to being a Temptation, and wasn’t going to do down without a fight, so you know what he did? Hold on, let me find the thing that changes fonts. Okay, here we go. So, you know what he did?

Homeboy starts going to Temptations concerts and rushing the stage whenever he wants, taking the mic out of Edwards’ hands and singing his old parts, like that’s something decent people just up and do or something.

Yeah, so he keeps running up and singing, obviously the crowd thinks it’s pretty cool, and long story short, the group dumps Dennis Edwards and brings back David Ruffin, because nothing says “Hey guys, I’ve totally got my crap together” like following your old band around and jumping on stage whenever you feel like it. How did that work out? Man, how you think it worked out? They ended up bringing Edwards back, like, immediately, but that’s not important to the rest of this story. Here’s the important part:

When he got booted from the group, Motown promised Edwards that he could have a solo career, and in 1984, he released “Don’t Look Any Further.” I don’t know the history behind this video, but I’ve always assumed Edwards was on his way to the prom, he and his date stopped at a video booth at the local Six Flags, and this is the glorious result. Enjoy:

You might recognize that bass line from Eric B and Rakim’s 1987 classic “Paid in Full”

And the full song once again rose to prominence in 1995, when Notorious B.I.G. and his pals in the Junior M.A.F.I.A. took some time out from abbreviating things to record the remix to “Get Money”, formally titled “Getting’ Money”

And then of course 2Pac had to take the bass line and record “Hit em Up,” a year later, which was a very mean thing to do.

I don’t want this post to go out on such a negative note, so let’s wash out all that negativity with this clip from the Keenan Ivory Wayans show, with a younger and nicer 2Pac dancing and lip syncing to a Fresh Prince song, accompanied by the Fresh Prince’s future wife.

If this, and Keenan’s suit can’t make you happy, just go watch “Don’t Look Any Further” again. If that doesn’t work, nothing will.

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