Anthony L. Ray (born August 12, 1963), better known by his stage name Sir Mix-a-Lot, is an American rapper, songwriter, and recording producer. He is best known for his 1992 hit song “Baby Got Back”, which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.Anthony Ray was born on August 12, 1963, in Auburn, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, and grew up in Seattle’s Central District. Growing up, Ray’s mother worked as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at the King County Jail making 6 or 7 dollars an hour. Ray was a fan of hip hop and started rhyming in the early 1980s.
While living in the Bryant Manor apartments on 19th Ave and East Yesler Way, Anthony Ray started school at Roosevelt High School, near the University District, when the Seattle Public School District was in the throes of what would be a 21-year experiment to integrate the school system. Students were bused from their neighborhoods to schools at the other end of the city. From 1978, when the busing program started, to 1999, when it was shelved, minorities carried the burden of busing, piling onto buses from the South End and the Central Area that were headed for predominantly white schools in the North End.
Ray said he knew that some North End residents didn’t want black kids bused into their neighborhoods. But for him, the experience offered respite from the projects. “I’ve heard things like, ‘Forced integration is not good,’ ‘I want my kid to be able to go to school in our community; that’s why we moved here’ – all those things I totally understand,” he said. “But from my perspective, I didn’t have the luxury of living in a neighborhood where a good school was. We didn’t make that kind of money. So from my perspective, it was the best thing that could have happened to me.” A music teacher at Eckstein Middle School introduced Ray to the possibility of a music career. Before becoming a rapper, Ray at an early age was interested in electronics and CB radio, one of his early jobs was working at a pinball arcade servicing machines, during that time he also started to fix keyboards and other musical equipment. He still works with electronics as a hobby.
Early on, Sir Mix-A-Lot had an ear and a passion for music. Soon after high school he began DJing parties at local community centers. By 1983 Mix-A-Lot had begun playing weekends regularly at the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club in South Seattle. Soon he moved locations and started throwing his parties at the Rotary Boys and Girls Club in the Central District. It was there that he met ‘Nasty’ Nes Rodriguez, a local radio DJ and host of Fresh Tracks, the West Coast’s first rap radio show on Seattle station KKFX (KFOX).
Sir Mix-a-Lot partnered with Nasty Nes and local businessman Ed Locke to found the Nastymix record label in 1983. The first song to gain popularity outside of Seattle was “Square Dance Rap” in 1986. Mix-a-Lot had originally decided to rap the entire song slow, then speed and pitch it up in post production, Mix later told Seattle Refined in 2018 that “I didn’t want to rap, that’s why I use this weird Smurf voice”. After the song was picked up by DJs in clubs nationwide, he went touring in Florida, New York, and other states. While in Arizona, he noticed a street named Broadway with a restaurant named Dick’s, just like Seattle. This gave him the idea to write his next hit “Posse on Broadway”.
Mix-a-Lot’s next hit, released in 1987, was the single “Posse on Broadway,” whose title referred to Broadway in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district. The song made the Top 100 but quickly disappeared, although it remains popular in the Seattle area for its references to many local landmarks.
Swass, Sir Mix-a-Lot’s debut album, was released in 1988 with two other singles: “Square-Dance Rap” and a hip hop cover of the Black Sabbath song “Iron Man” backed by the band Metal Church. In 1990, the Recording Industry Association of America certified Swass platinum.
Seminar, released in 1989 featured “My Hooptie”, “Beepers”, “Gortex” and “I Got Game”.
In 1991, Sir Mix-A-Lot signed to the Def American label, which also bought the rights to his first two albums, and released his third album Mack Daddy in 1992. The single “Baby Got Back” was a number-one hit that went double platinum and won the 1993 Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. MTV aired the music video for the song only after 9 PM because of “many, many, complaints.”
In 1993, Sir Mix-a-Lot collaborated with Seattle-based grunge band Mudhoney for the song “Freak Momma” on the Judgment Night soundtrack.
In 1994, he released Chief Boot Knocka and the album reached #69 on the Billboard 200 and #28 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Charts. The album featured the hit single “Put ‘Em On The Glass.” “Just Da Pimpin’ in Me” was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance but lost to “Let Me Ride” by Dr. Dre.
When his 1996 album, Return of the Bumpasaurus, was only given a low label promotion, leading to lackluster sales, Sir Mix-a-Lot left the American label. During the time off, he worked closely with another band, The Presidents of the United States of America under the group name “Subset” with a combination of rock and rap music, but nothing was ever officially released.
Sir Mix-a-Lot signed with the independent label Artist Direct for his 2003 album Daddy’s Home with “Big Johnson” as its lead single.
In 2006, Sir Mix-a-Lot appeared on Adult Swim’s Tom Goes to the Mayor.
In 2008, Sir Mix-a-Lot appeared on Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken singing a song entitled, “Table Be Round”. It was sung in the style of his famous song “Baby Got Back”, but in reference to King Arthur’s creation story of the Round Table. He also voiced politician Hans Blix and singer Stevie Wonder in the season 3 finale.
In 2010, Sir Mix-a-Lot announced his next album, Dun 4got About Mix. The lead single “Carz” was released to YouTube on 23 Nov 2010. By June 2011, the video had acquired over a million views, although no release date for the album has been set.In the same year, his F.U.B.A.R. Remix for the song Conditions Of My Parole appeared on Puscifer’s remix album All Re-Mixed Up.
In 2013, Sir Mix-a-Lot produced the album “Dream” for the urban rock band Ayron Jones and the Way. Mix-a-Lot opened for Ayron Jones and the Way for their album release party at Neumos on November 2. Also in 2013, Sir Mix-a-Lot promoted the Washington State Lottery over the Christmas season, with advertisements featuring his music appearing on Spotify.
On June 6, 2014, Sir Mix-a-Lot collaborated and performed with the Seattle Symphony on a new composition by Gabriel Prokofiev as part of the symphony’s Sonic Evolution series of new orchestral pieces inspired by Seattle’s music icons.
In 2014, Trinidadian rapper Nicki Minaj released the single “Anaconda”, which prominently featured samples from “Baby Got Back.” Sir Mix-a-Lot praised both the artist and the song, calling it the “new and improved version” of “Baby Got Back.”
In March 2016, Sir Mix-a-Lot collaborated with TNT and LK on the track and video, “Streets Don’t Love Me”.
From 2017 to 2019, Sir Mix-a-Lot hosted a morning radio show based in Seattle on Hot 103.7 FM. He owns multiple residences, including one in Auburn, Washington where he has continued to maintain a strong presence performing at small festivals across the country.
He appeared in an episode of Season 4 of BoJack Horseman playing himself.
In 2019 he became the spokesperson for Cards Against Humanity’s new “Ass Pack”.
In 1995 Sir Mix-A-Lot was the regular host of the short-lived UPN anthology drama series The Watcher, in which, in 2000, he was quoted in Vibe magazine as saying “in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t done (the show)”
Sir Mix-A-Lot provides narration and commentary in Wheedle’s Groove, a 2009 documentary about the Seattle 1960s and 70s funk and soul scene.
In June 2018, a special on the DIY Network called Sir Mix-A-Lot’s House Remix was aired, which involved Mix-A-Lot buying and flipping a house in his hometown of Seattle.
Main article: Sir Mix-a-Lot discography
Mack Daddy (1992)
Chief Boot Knocka (1994)
Return of the Bumpasaurus (1996)
Daddy’s Home (2003)