The Fat Boys’ Kool Rock Talks TV One’s Unsung, Weightloss, Fat Stereotypes
The Fat Boys made being overweight Lotharios cool before Biggie and Heavy D. The trio combined weighed about 750 lbs but they didn’t let it stop them from touring, and creating hit records. Comprised of Prince Markie Dee, Buff the Human Beatbox and Kool Rock, the original hip-hop heavyweights achieved iconic pop culture status thanks to their feel good anthems and memorable appearances in movies like Disorderlies and Krush Groove.
However, like a lot of young artists, they experienced turbulent patches in their careers. The trio eventually downsized when Prince Markie Dee had a dispute with management and went solo. The remaining Fat Boys as a duo just didn’t cut it when it came to record sales and eventually, health issues caught up to Buff, who passed away in 1995.
Nowadays, Prince Markie Dee is doing a radio show on Miami’s 99 Jamz while a slimmed down, much healthier Kool Rock is pursuing his personal training license. But they haven’t given up the music and want to school you on their legacy. The group was last seen performing with Jay-Z this past summer for the first time in about a decade and on October 18th TV One is premiering their first hip hop episode of their docu-series, Unsung highlighting The Fat Boys story (check your local listings.)
VIBE caught up with Kool Rock and briefly chatted about The Fat Boys’ legacy, reality TV deals in the works, stereotypes of obese people and the inspiration to lose weight. ⎯Starrene Rhett
VIBE: Where do you see your influences on hip-hop today, if it still applies?
I would say anybody who wasn’t really concerned with their appearance as far as their weight like, Big, Chubb Rock and Big Pun. Anyone of those guys that came out after us were gonna be compared to us about their size not because of their rapping.
According to your episode of Unsung, Buff was quite the ladies man, can you share an interesting story?
When we would go on tour back in the day he would do stuff from the 70s like, he would change the light bulb in his room from red to blue. He always had a suite. We would get regular rooms but he would get a huge suite with his own money and change the light bulbs in the hotel room. It was crazy. [Laughs] He would call me like, “Yo Rock. I got three here, man. So come upstairs and pick one.”
Were you ever told that you needed to gain more weight for your image?
Our manager at the time would actually tell us that we were putting on too much weight. We couldn’t really see it because we’re on the tour bus and we’re going from city to city and the show ends 12 at night, you don’t get back to the hotel until like two in the morning and the only thing open is places like McDonald’s and Burger King⎯that’s what we were gonna eat. So we’re eating things like Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets at like, three or four in the morning. So of course we’re gonna gain weight. He would tell us to calm down on the weight gaining. But it was so much stuff happening and so many things going on at the same time that we didn’t see ourselves as being fat. We just saw ourselves as rap stars who were performing and having fun. [Laughs] I see a lot of stuff on YouTube that says, “These guys weren’t really fat their clothes were just so tight.”
True, [Laughs] but that style is kind of starting to come back.
Right! If you look at the stuff that going on now, I’m like that’s the stuff that was going on back in the 80s. Everything comes full circle.
You guys were known as jovial fun loving guys, which is a stereotype of heavy-set people. Did you ever get backlash from people who felt you were feeding into it?
No. If it was this present time they would have tried to shut our manager down. They would have tried to shut down our record company for putting us out there like that. But at that time nobody was really concerned with obesity in America so we didn’t get no kind of backlash.
Where did your inspiration come from to lose weight?
It came from going up to 330 lbs and finding myself at 19, 20 years old and couldn’t even tie my shoe without breathing hard or feeling like I ran a marathon. So I said I’m gonna make a conscious decision to go on a diet. When I saw that the weight started shedding, I decided to keep it off. I went back up to 240 and I never looked back from there. I said I’m never gonna go back to the way I was before. I just went to the gym and starting eating the right food. You only have one body so you gotta take care of it. It’s not easy. To this day I’m 167 lbs but it’s not easy to keep it off. It’s not an easy process but you gotta have dedication.
At one point when Markie Dee got dropped he was doing production and writing songs for people. So what were you and Buff up to?
When Mark left the group he wanted to go his own way. Some investors had poured a whole lot of money into us to put out an album, he was from Japan, I forgot his name but at this time we were like chickens with our heads cut off, we had no guidance. We no longer had the manager that we had. So we were free. We weren’t under any kind of demand from anybody but ourselves. We were just buying cars and because we had a whole lot of money coming in and we pretty much put out a half ass album— because we had no dedication, we were just having fun. So that’s what me and Buff did. The album debuted at number 80 with no kind of promotion, I guess because of our name so it didn’t really pan out. So me and buff started doing stuff with other people; working with other artists and trying to put them out; doing management writing and producing.