Amos Larkins II on His Miami Bass Sound: "All a Mistake" Caused by "Cocaine and a Stripper"
Amos Larkins says, "I made the mistake of leaving the 808 bass hum too long."
If it weren't for cocaine, strippers, weed, and liquor, Amos Larkins II may have never started making Miami bass records. Long since clean, sober, and completely drug and alcohol free, this is a story going back 25 years. He is now healthy, vegetarian, and practicing yoga and meditation daily.
Larkins is widely considered the genre's progenitor for his work on MC ADE's "Bass Rock Express" on 4 Sight Records.
Larkins discovered the people's lust for the heavy drop in the Flea Market USA parking lot. A mistake in the mastering process of a local rap record ended up bumping trunks when it landed on a mixtape, and thus his Miami bass sound was born.
Here's Amos telling the whole story for the first time ever in his own words
"Here is the crazy story of how cocaine, liquor, and a stripper got me started in producing and engineering Miami bass records back before the genre existed," Larkins tells New Times.
"It all started with 'We're Coming in Fresh' by Mighty Rock who was a part of the group Double Duce back in da day. This was the record I produced where I made the mistake of leaving the 808 bass hum too long. Sad to say, the Miami bass sound was all a mistake and unintentional. I have to blame it on too much cocaine and a stripper that I invited to the studio the night I was mixing this record.
"It was January or February of 1985," Amos recalls, "and I was a frequent cocaine user and strip-club patron. So whenever I took breaks to clear my thoughts, I would frequent strip clubs to get inspiration or just to totally get away from the studio for a second to give my ears a break and get a fresh perspective on things or watch some serious nude booty dancing.
"For some reason, drinking scotch and doing lines of coke went hand in hand with watching a beautiful nude woman in a private booth at the strip club. It was very inspirational and would always clear my head and get the creative juices flowing, among some other bodily juices."
"For me, back then, drinking alcohol, snorting lots and lots of cocaine, and hanging with party girls was a way of life and a lot of my songs were based on that lifestyle, though I would always disguise the real meaning behind it.
"Songs like 'Set It Off (Party Rock)' meant to bring some mother-pearl pure cocaine to get the party off right. 'Rock the Planet' meant we gonna turn the whole world on to this pure uncut cocaine that we are snorting and turn everybody out on it.
"'The Bass Is Too Strong' meant that the cocaine was so strong that it could give you a seizure, so you better put a one or a two of cut on it. And 'Gucci Bass' meant that I have the designer cocaine or I got the best cocaine around.
"'On the One' was changed from 'One on One' to 'On the One" and initially meant that we were doing one-on-one lines up each nostril. But Cool Will wasn't with that drug shit so he insisted that we change it or he wasn't going to rap on it.
"'The Beat Is Fresh' meant the weed was the best weed. And 'Commin in Fresh' meant that we coming on the scene with the best weed. The entire Bass Your Car, Street, and Party EP has drug meanings disguised in the meaning of the songs."
"Anyways, I spent a night of playing with this beautiful Jewish stripper. Oh my god, she was gorgeous and had an ass that wouldn't quit. I was in the VIP booth after a couple bottles of Champagne and consuming more cocaine than the average human being could ever consume and live to tell about it. Time went by fast, because we were having fun, and before we knew it the clock struck 5 a.m. and it was time for the club to close. So she and I decided to continue the party and I invited her to Sunnyview Studios where I was finishing up the mix of the 'Commin in Fresh' record.
"When we got into the studio, I played the song directly from the two-inch tape machine for her and she gave me the most ultimate private dance a guy could ever have. I remember, while she was dancing, I would commence to tweaking certain things in the mix. I was playing with the 808 bass settings to record it on the tape and try to see what it sounded like before I made the final pass for the mix to be put on quarter-inch tape to be sent to the mastering lab to prepare it to get pressed for the following week's release."
"Now this is where I fucked up! I remember looking over at her and I got so caught up, between all the liquor and the drugs and all that Jewish white booty dancing around for me, oh-so-close, up front, in my face. Somewhere between all of that, I I left the tape running and the music was playing really low and my mind was 100 percent on that booty, so I got up from the recording console, grabbed her hand, and we went into my office, which was located directly in the back of the control room.
"I remember her and I playing around in my office, and I could hear the song playing, but I wasn't really paying much attention to song and the volume was very low. I was paying more attention to her ass and those gorgeous tits she had, because, oh my god, she was so fine. Then I remember hearing the tape stop, so I ran to the control room to rewind the tape, and without even checking the sound or any of my tweaks, I went back to the office with my stripper girl and continued drinking scotch, doing lines of cocaine, and playing adult games with her booty.
"By this time, it was light blue outside and she left because it was about time for the Sunnyview staff to start rolling in and I had to hurry and get the record ready to get to the mastering lab and get pressed. So I set everything up and recorded it on the quarter-inch tape, but I had the volume down superlow because I was so fogged out that I didn't even want to hear the music. I never really listened to it and I just assumed it was good.
"By the end of the week, the record was distributed to the mom-and-pop stores, the flea markets, and so on. That Friday, I happened to be in a flea market called Flea Market USA or the 79th Street Flea Market. I was visiting one of my friends who had a mixtape record store where they would do mixtapes on cassette tapes. Customers used to listen to new music in the store while they would sift through the 12-inches, looking to see what they would want to buy for that week.
"I'll never forget walking in the store and my friend the record store owner putting on "Cummin in Fresh.' Oh, fuck, my heart almost dropped out of my chest, because when I heard that over-compressed bass. Not only was it too long, but it was tearing up the fuckin' speakers. That's when I said to myself, 'Oh, shit, I did a major fuck up. I didn't check the bass. Henry Stone is gonna execute me.' I mean, it was humming like bass from hell, so I looked around the store to all the people and the strangest thing happened. Everybody looked up asking, 'Who the fuck is that?' and 'What's the name of that record?'
"I mean, dayum! That bass was hittin' hard and fucked up and out of phase and it was all over-compressed and shit. People got in line asking for a copy right there. I was puzzled. I was saying to myself, 'What the fuck just happened?' And unbeknown to me, my buddy who owned that same mixtape record store had already put it on cassette on some of his new mixes, and as I was coming out of the flea market, a car passed by and it had my song on, 'Commin in Fresh' and the shit was literally tearing up the fuckin speakers in the car. As they passed by me, I waved them down, going, "Hey! Hey! Wait a min!" They stopped and I asked them, 'Do y'all like that sound? Y'all like that shit?' And they said, 'Hell yeah, that bass is the shit." I was fuckin' in a daze.
"To me, that sound was fucked up, but people was actually liking that shit. So I went straight back to the studio told Henry about my fuck up on the mix, but that I thought it was a good fuck up and that I think we are on to something and that he had to pull that record and let me tighten up the sound a little with levels.
"From that point on, I just started perfecting the bass sound on future records, and that's how Miami bass was born. I didn't mimic anybody, nor was I inspired by somebody else. It was a mistake, and once I saw that people were into it, I did more records like it."
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