One of the pleasures of being a serious fan of rap music is the many opportunities that fandom affords you to take journeys down various rabbit holes. (One of the lesser pleasures of being a rap fan, and also a giant pain in the ass, is the excruciating habit of thinking “pause” whenever someone says “hole.” But I digress, clearly.) What’s that sample? What’s he saying? What kind of shoes are those? Etc., etc. It’s an art form that, despite protestations to the contrary, invites and even demands careful study.
DJ E-Z Rock, born Rodney Bryce, passed away this weekend at the age of 46. He was one half of the rap duo Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, most famous for their 1988 smash “It Takes Two,” one of the bangingest club bangers in the history of club bangers.
At the risk of making a eulogy about one man’s life too much about my own, I’ll explain the title of this essay: lots of people love “It Takes Two;” it doesn’t take too much of a trip down the rabbit hole to say I owe my career to it. Hearing “It Takes Two” in the parking lot of the Endless Grind skateshop in Raleigh, N.C. beget a trip to see Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock at Dorton Arena (with MC Lyte and Eric B & Rakim; don’t even get me in a “my first concert” battle) beget a bootleg copy of Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back beget a lifetime and career obsessing over hip-hop. It’s not that I didn’t know rap before “It Takes Two.” I’d listened to the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC before 1988, but I’d never studied it like I did “It Takes Two.”
Hip-hop's getting old, and even many of the legends who survive long enough to achieve "legend" status are dying far, far too young. Details on Bryce's life are scarce in the media coverage so far, which is, of course, a shame: He was 46, met Rob Base in the fourth grade, cause of death unknown. But his impact is undeniable, both on me and the hundreds of people who loved that song, even if it didn't launch them on their eventual career path. So thanks E-Z Rock, and condolences to his family.
Jack Erwin is the Director of Content Operations at Complex. He wants to thank his mom (again) for taking him to that rap concert all those years ago. Thanks mom! He tweets here.