Born Eric Breed, c. 1972, in Flint, MI; children: three daughters. Addresses: Record company--Ichiban Music Family, P.O. Box 724677, Atlanta, GA 31139-1677.
Rapper MC Breed has enjoyed a career noteworthy for both its longevity and its distinctively controlled creative direction. Additionally, Breed has not let success spoil the personal vision that put him in the limelight; despite a rags-to-riches background that sometimes leaves new stars ill-prepared for the fortunes of fame, he has stayed out of trouble and has even integrated charitable promotions with his record releases. Breed's success in rap throughout the 1990s has been attributed to his willingness to grow as an artist and explore new musical fields, most notably by taking a cue from the grand old master of the genre, George Clinton. The P-Funk founder has collaborated on several occasions with Breed, and Breed's later work moves away from the braggadocio grooves of his peers and into a more complex amalgamation of funk that pays homage to Clinton's style.
The rap artist was born Eric Breed in Flint, Michigan, in the early 1970s. Life in the city, once the home to several important automobile manufacturing facilities, had already been economically depressed for several years. As a beat-box rapper, his first musical efforts "reflected a troubled teen growing up in the streets, dropping out of high school and headed straight for trouble," wrote April Woolfolk of The Source. Breed, like others of his generation, found life on the streets far preferable to attending class but later returned to earn a GED--"I had to do that just to satisfy myself," he confessed in his promotional biography.
Breed's first foray into the studio came in 1990 when he recorded the tracks that would become his debut album at Silver Sun Recording Studio in his hometown. Production work was done in collaboration with producer Bernard Terry, formerly of Ready for the World. The tapes were then passed on to a radio program director in nearby Saginaw, Michigan, who sent them on to the new Power Artists label. The company released the work as MC Breed's debut record, MC Breed and DFC, in 1991. The first single from the record was "Ain't No Future in Yo' Frontin'," which would go on to have a long life on the club playlists for several years to come. The song took hooks from "The Funky Worm" and "More Bounce to the Ounce" and showcased Breed's distinctively raspy voice. "Just Kickin' It" was the second single from the debut album.
Breed began recording his sophomore effort, 1992's 20 Below, but soon became embroiled in legal troubles through no fault of his own--except heeding bad advice. At the suggestion of manager Tommy Quon, Breed filed for bankruptcy in 1992, a decision the rapper called "the worst career move I could have possibly made," according to The Source. Breed fired Quon and soon signed on with Wrap Records, a part of the Atlanta, Georgia-based Ichiban music group. 20 Below did moderately well, spawning the singles "Ain't to Be Flexed With" and "Ain't Too Much Worried."
The year between 1992 and 1993 was a busy one for Breed. The first tie-in with his home state came in 1992 with the release of the independent film Zebrahead, an interracial love story filmed in Detroit; Breed penned the song "Sister and Brother" for its soundtrack. The rapper also began a collaboration with famed funkmeister George Clinton (like Breed, a native of Michigan)--one that started back in 1991 with a line from Breed's first single "Ain't No Future in Yo' Frontin'," in which Breed intones, "If you leave it up to me, I'd paint the White House black." Clinton took that line and worked it into a song of his own called "Paint the White House Black," inviting several younger rap stars--including Breed--on board in the studio and for the video of the 1993 release.
Breed's third offering, The New Breed, was released in the spring of 1993 with what has been termed "a denser, harder edged sound," according to the artist's press material. His status in the increasingly populated field of rap was evidenced by the guest performers who helped out--rapper Tupac Shakur makes an appearance on "Gotta Get Mine," and Clinton appears in the video for "Tight." More stars lurked behind the boards: credited in the production of The New Breed are major-name rappers N.W.A., Dr. Dre, and the late Easy E. Unfortunately, the record did not do as well in sales as his previous efforts, but Breed still stood by his artistry. As he recalled for Woolfolk in The Source interview, "I actually considered leaving [the Wrap and Ichiban group]. It's like this with me: if we selling records, then we should be making money, and if we not, you [the label] should be able to come to me and say why!"
This unhappy juncture in his career also coincided with Breed's move to Atlanta, where he could join the area's growing community of rap superstars making their home there while keeping better tabs on his management team at Ichiban. Breed's 1994 release for the label, Funkafied, also boasted another Clinton contribution with the song "This Is How We Do It," which the P-Funk star penned. The record's first single was "Late Nite Creep"; it also included such inspirational tracks as "Teach My Kids" and "What You Want." The record, like Breed, defied categorization along the lines of West Coast/East Coast/Midwest rap slots--purposefully. "I try to make music that can't fit into any category," Breed told Woolfolk. "Just music. And some people will like it and some won't."
Breed's fifth album, 1995's Big Baller, was notable for the contributions of Breed's old collaborator from the Flint era, DJ Flash. With a style described as more funk and less rap by some reviewers, the record also featured Beastie Boys' DJ Hurricane on the cut "Real MC"; Big Baller's first single, "Sea of Bud," boasted gospel-choir-style backing vocals. Reviewer J-Mill of The Source praised the release for its evidence of Breed's maturation as an artist. "In the past, he appeared buried and confined by the music," J-Mill remarked. "This time around he manages to ride the rhythm and comes with a flow that is furious but still laidback."
The year 1995 was shaping up to be a memorable one for Breed, who was then only in his mid-twenties. Ensconced in a pleasant suburb of Atlanta, also home to many other rap stars (and close friends) of his generation, Breed was enjoying the rewards of success--and savvy management. The artist even began his own production company called OPM (One Puff Management) and planned to integrate the company and a greater degree of artistic control into his next contract. He was also constructing a recording studio for Andre Rison, the former Atlanta Falcons football player, who planned on embarking on his own musical career. In addition, Breed could boast of his own "Best Of" compilation, a rarity in the genre of come-and-go, flavor-of-the-month artistry.
This 1995 Best of Breed title was also notable for its pre-Christmas season promotional effort, which had the rapper drawing winners' names from a contest box in record stores in major American cities; the prizewinners would receive grocery store gift certificates. At his plush home north of Atlanta, Breed reflected on his good fortune in the interview with Woolfolk: "Life ... is good," he admitted. Woolfolk concluded, "If anyone doubts that perseverance and tenacity in this industry do not payoff," Breed is its living, rapping, proof to the contrary.
by Carol Brennan
MC Breed's Career
Recorded debut album, MC Breed and DFC, Power Artists, 1991; released several albums throughout the 1990s; Best of Breed compilation released in 1995 on Wrap Records.
- Selective Works
- Singles "Ain't No Future in Yo' Frontin'," Power Artists, 1991.
- "Ain't to Be Flexed With," Power Artists, 1992.
- "Ain't Too Much Worried," Power Artists, 1992.
- "No Frontin' Allowed," Power Artists, 1992.
- "Gotta Get Mine," Wrap, 1993.
- "Tight," Wrap, 1993.
- "Late Nite Creep," Wrap, 1994.
- "Sea of Bud," Wrap, 1995.
- Albums MC Breed and DFC, Power Artists, 1991.
- 20 Below, Power Artists, 1992.
- The New Breed, Wrap, 1993.
- Funkafied, Wrap, 1994.
- Big Baller, Wrap, 1995.
- Best of Breed, Wrap, 1995.
- Also appeared on the recorded and video versions of George Clinton's "Paint the White House Black," 1993.
- Billboard, March 11, 1995, p. 21.
- The Source, August 1995; September 1995, p. 74.
- Additional information for this profile was taken from Ichiban Records publicity materials, 1995.