Loading...
Bizarre Ride

Skee-Lo Wished He Was a Little Bit Taller. Then He Promptly Retired

Comments (0)

By

Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 3:30 AM
click to enlarge NANETTE GONZALES
  • Nanette Gonzales

[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. His archives are available here.]

The directions haven't changed. If you want to find Skee-Lo, take the 110 to the 105 and get off on Crenshaw. It's everything else that's been altered since "I Wish" transformed the Snapple-size South L.A. rapper from obscurity into an evanescent national phenomenon in the summer of 1995. The gold-certified smash yielded Grammy nominations, stints as an MTV VJ and a spot on the television adaptation of Dangerous Minds. Then he disappeared.

"I retired five months after it was released," Skee-Lo says, drinking coffee at the Denny's on Crenshaw and 37th, a few blocks from the home he shares with his wife and two children. "Not only did my label [Sunshine] take credit for producing 'I Wish,' they took all the profits. So I refused to shoot any more videos, promote or record music. I'm not their slave. I wasn't working for free."

You expect to hear rappers indict the improprieties of a corrupt industry. But you don't expect to hear Skee-Lo inveigh against its sheer "wickedness." It's like hearing the Easter Bunny go off on Big Chocolate.

For those foreign to the charms of "I Wish," the rapper born Antoine Roundtree plays an endlessly endearing ne'er-do-well. "I wish I was a little bit taller," he posits, adding that he's saddled to a Hatchback with an 8-track, where "Everywhere I go, I gets laughed at." The indelible underdog anthem reached No. 13 on the singles chart but branded him a one-hit wonder.

"The one-hit-wonder thing used to really irritate me. But no one knew the true story," says Skee-Lo, the spitting image of his '95 self, plus a few pounds.

He graduated from high school in Moreno Valley, and while attending El Camino College performed every week at the Good Life in Leimert Park, the Left Bank of early-'90s underground hip-hop. That's where he unveiled "I Wish," one week after writing it during a study session gone wrong.

"I wanted to do anything but school. So I started listing wishes and wrote the whole record without music," Skee-Lo says. "Two days later, I'm cleaning my room and in the middle of an ugly old record. I heard a beautiful horn section that made me feel like I was at a casino, on a beach or a boat. I threw my broom down, got on my MPC-60 and made the beat."

Related Content

Now Trending

  • Jeff Weiss' Bizarre Ride Summer Mix 2014

    This column had ideas of its own. Originally I was going to break down the songs that defined this summer. But in the age of Pandora, Spotify, Sirius XM and Diplodocus-sized hard drives, do you need someone to tell you that Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” is the inevitable pick? You don’t...
  • Fanatics! A Bodacious Assortment of Tunes

    RADIO BROADCAST #27707–20–14 Fanatics! Thank you so much for checking out these notes. Before anything, I hope you are digging the summer, or whatever weather you're in and that these amazing songs we have lined up for you are just what you need. A few highlights to note. The Calico...
  • The Best Concerts to See in L.A. This Week

    Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar! Monday, July 21 Lady Gaga STAPLES CENTER Since she first burst onto the scene and into the hearts and minds of her little monsters, Lady Gaga has become a genre unto herself. Beyond her hit-laden catalog, featuring many of the...
Los Angeles Concert Tickets

Slideshows

  • OK GO @ The Troubadour
    OK GO performed to a sold out Troubadour on Tuesday night. Their fourth studio album, Hungry Ghosts, is out soon. DC Myles Hendrik opened the night. All photos by Timothy Norris.
  • Nico Vega's Album Release Party
    The Sunset Strip burned up the music scene as Nico Vega launched their Lead to Light record release bash Monday night at The Roxy. Dark Waves played an amazing debut performance, while Queen Caveat broke open the the jammed packed club. Nico Vegas frontwoman Aja Volkman danced in the crowd, brought the party on stage, and painted dots on fans foreheads. Good times as always on the Strip! All photos by Michele McManmon.
  • Air Guitar Championship Semifinals @ The Troubadour
    The Southwest Semifinals of the US Air Guitar Championship were held last Saturday at the historic Troubadour Club in West Hollywood. The event determined who would compete as regional representatives at the 2014 National Finals in Kansas City on August 9th. The colorful contestants (many of whom opted for elaborate codpieces) were judged by comedians Kristen Schaal and the Sklar Brothers. The top score was awarded to crowd-surfing guitarist Kingslayer, the mother of a teenage son who also competed wearing little more than an American flag bathing suit. All photos by Gustavo Turner.