Back in the mid-1980s, a new subgenre of hip-hop began to emerge from South Florida called Miami bass.
Its music was inspired by electro-funk artists like Afrika Bambaataa and characterized by quick-tempo beats that were heavy on synthesizers and use of the Roland TR-808 drum machine.
The movement started in Miami but soon expanded throughout the state of Florida, popularized with the help of artists like the mainstream group 2 Live Crew.
Miami bass hit Jacksonville in the late ‘80s, when the local production duo of C.C. Lemonhead and Jay Ski (Nathaniel Orange and Johnny McGowan, respectively) formed their first group known as Chill Deal. The duo produced beats for fellow Miami bass artists for a few years as Chill Deal or their other name, The Bass Mechanics.
In 1992, the two became producers for a new group called 69 Boyz, which featured rappers Thill Van, Fast, Slow, and Mike Mike.
In 1993, they joined forces with Article “AB” Bentley and Carlos “Daddy Black” Spencer, forming the group 95 South, named for the easiest path from Jacksonville to Miami. McGowan and Orange handled the bulk of the production for the group’s first album, Quad City Knock.
The album produced a hit single, “Whoot! There It Is,” which reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in ’93. Confusingly enough, it was released within months of fellow Miami bass group Tag Team’s more successful song, “Whoomp! (There It Is),” which features an identical chorus and was the subject of a dispute between the two groups.
In ’94, they’d release their first album with 69 Boyz, titled 199Quad. It produced a top 10 hit, “Tootsee Roll.”
95 South’s follow-up album, One Mo’ ‘Gen, would prove to be less commercially successful than their debut. The group would go on a five-year hiatus after its release in ’95.
By 1996, the duo had formed yet another new group. This time, they joined Adam Martin, Adam “DJ Harpo” Harper, and singer JeLana LaFleur to create Quad City DJ’s.
The group released its first album, Get On Up and Dance, in June of ’96. It was highlighted by the lead single, “C’Mon N’ Ride It (The Train)”, which became the duo’s biggest hit when it reached #3 on the Hot 100. It’s arguably their most well-known work to this day, being used frequently at sporting events and parties as well as being featured in a tenth season episode of the sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
The success of that lead single led to the group being tapped to pen the theme song for the movie Space Jam, which was also released in 1996. It managed to reach #37 on the Hot 100, and over six million copies were sold of the soundtrack on which it was featured.
Despite the commercial success of Quad City DJ’s, the group disbanded after releasing only one album.
The Orange-McGowan duo then shifted their focus back to their 69 Boyz project, releasing The Wait is Over in 1998. The album wasn’t particularly commercially successful but did include the song “Woof Woof,” which would be featured on the soundtrack of the film Dr. Doolittle.
By the end of the ‘90s, the duo’s two remaining groups shifted toward being based in Orlando rather than Jax. It was also around this time that the Miami bass subgenre faded from prominence.
But the work done by the duo in the ‘90s while in Jacksonville continues to resonate today, with their top hits becoming lasting hip-hop dance anthems and, along with the entire Miami bass movement, influencing modern hip-hop production and Florida music.