Tupac also dabbled in acting during his career, and the rapper showed off his comedic chops on In Living Color (which aired on Fox from 1990-1995). He appeared in a skit with Ace and Main Man (a.k.a. Jamie Foxx and Tommy Davidson), where the silly pair don't even allow him into his own concert!
Public Enemy's 1990 signature song "Fight the Power" still rings hard to this day and their performance of the single alongside Ice Cube was unforgettable. "Many things have been have been said about them. "But what I would like to say is that they're the premier group of rap. The boldness in their lyrics, the level of consciousness they have brought to music has totally redefined the level of excellence in rap," Keenen Ivory Wayans says before introducing Public Enemy to the stage.
Heavy D was one of the biggest artists of the '90s, so it was no surprise he was called to record the funky theme song for In Living Color. “You walk on the moon / Float like a balloon…” he rapped. “How would you feel knowing prejudice was obsolete / And all mankind danced to the same exact beat / And at night it was safe to walk down the street?” During that time, bold lyrics became an even larger message for the youth who wanted to redefine and take control of their Blackness.
The '90s was the peak era for R&B music, with Mary J. Blige at the forefront. The queen of hip-hop soul was introduced by Fly Girl Rosie Perez before wowing the crowd with 1992's What's the 411? highlight, "Reminisce." Mary's swag is unmatched as she hits every note with ease. And how dope is that all-black leather outfit!
Jamie Foxx was such a gem on In Living Color and one of his best characters was Ugly Wanda. She embodies every hood girl 'round the way who was too extra for her own good. with a heavy does of excellent comedic timing. Foxx and Davidson worked so well together on screen as seen in hilarious skits like "Ugly Wanda: Masseuse."
Jim Carrey being the token white dude on In Living Color wasn't the only reason why he received so much attention on the series. The then-rising actor showcased his crazy-as-hell and brilliant talent with every episode, which made it so exciting to tune in. One of his memorable characters was Fire Marshall Bill, who was completely out of his mind in the most entertaining way possible.
In Living Color kept things in the family as co-creator Keenen Ivory Wayans brought along some of his siblings to star on the show. Kim Wayans played Benita Buttrell, the nosy neighbor who knew everyone's gossip. Benita was always on time to tell you the tea, whether it be at a wedding reception, the doctor's office, a class reunion and even the L.A. Riots. She was rude as hell without any remorse and reminded you of that one auntie in your family who didn't know what a filter was!
Having queer characters who were also people of color has become the norm for us (but we of course still have a long way to go). But back in the early '90s, the idea was almost unheard of and was considered a major risk for networks. In Living Color wasn't fearful though, as Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier played two effeminate gay men who discussed the current happenings in pop culture. It wasn't always perfect though, as the skits made black gay culture the center of their jokes. But who can forget hilarious show staples like "two snaps in a z formation!"
Jamaican dancehall icon Shabba Ranks has been the target of ugly jokes throughout his career, some of which he has lightheartedly acknowledged. But Marlon Wayans playing Shabba in this skit took things to the next level! The parody of the artist's 1988 hit "Mr. Loverman" is just plain silly, with Wayans's over the top facial expressions, spot-on dance moves and greasy body.
What made In Living Color so respectable is that they often inserted important social commentary in their funny sketches. See "Snow: Imposter" for example. Jim Carrey portrays Snow, the Canadian reggae artist who was called out for his watered down version of the genre with his one-hit wonder "Informer." Carrey getting beat up by Rastafarians towards the end and him sounding like a pirate are just some highlights of the sketch!
This skit made us feel for all clowns—they have feelings too! Poor Homey D. Clown made it very clear that he HATES his job, the kids he performs for, the special clown tricks...pretty much everything. If he didn't like what he was asked to do, his response was simple: "Homey don't play that!" He was sick of everyone's shit, and could you really blame him?
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