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September 10, 1998: The Year in Review

Sir Mix-a-Lot de-knighted

LONDON — The royal family revoked the knighthood of rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot yesterday. Buckingham Palace spokesman John Cherrington issued a terse statement which explained that the Queen Mother had tired of Mix-a-Lot "biting her rhymes."

The reversal was the final unfortunate chapter in Mix-a-Lot’s rags-to-riches rise to nobility. Born Jeffrey Edmund Mix-a-Lot, son of a Shropshire bootblack, he overcame his working-class upbringing to complete a degree at university and secure a minor position in the public employ. A diligent worker, Mix-a-Lot slowly built up an impressive career in government, culminating with his appointment to the position of Chief Boot Knocka in the Thatcher administration.

It was at this point that Mix-a-Lot came to the attention of Queen Elizabeth, who at that time was often known by her rap stage name, Queen E-Z. Rap historian George Witherby recalls: "Mix-a-Lot had always enjoyed writing raps in his spare time. You must understand, however, that what he considered ‘raps’ in the early eighties would not be considered raps today, but rather recipes. Somewhat rhythmic and vulgar recipes, yes, but recipes nonetheless."

Queen E-Z took a liking to the young Mix-a-Lot and helped him re-craft his rap/recipes into raps in the true sense of the word. On the occasion of Mix-a-Lot’s knighthood two years ago, she fondly recalled their collaboration in those early days.

"Where he had written ‘one half teaspoon oregano,’ we would politely suggest, ‘I get called off / pull out a sawed-off / guns blastin’, niggaz gettin’ hauled off,’" the Queen said. "‘One quarter cup pancetta, thinly sliced’ was replaced by ‘went to the Comfort Inn, tucked her in / pulled out the third leg, pumped it in.’ ‘Two cups artichoke hearts’ was left as written."

Tensions between the Queen and Mix-a-Lot have run high ever since Princess Diana’s death, however. The Queen paid tribute to Diana in a speech that, while derided by many in the mainstream press as cold and unfeeling, electrified the rap community in both England and America. Vibe hailed her performance as "freestyling with a crazy flow." Indeed, if one listens closely to recordings of the performance, one can hear the Queen say, "We seem to have the crazy flow."

Not long afterwards, Mix-a-Lot released his own Diana tribute rap, "Di Got Back," which bore an unmistakable resemblance to Queen E-Z’s words (see sidebar). The British tabloids had a field day, as headlines trumpeted: "Wack Rap Hack Cribs Di Trib."

At any rate, the day’s news from the Palace was not all gloomy, as the Fresh Prince replaced Prince Charles as heir to the British throne. "I simply love those Men in Black," the Queen said.

Knight or knave?

Below are excerpts from Queen Elizabeth’s eulogy of Diana, next to the allegedly similar sections of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s Diana tribute, "Di Got Back." Coincidence or plagiarism? You be the judge.

Queen:

She was an exceptional and gifted human being.
In good times and bad,
she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh,
nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness.
I admired and respected her —
for her energy and commitment to others,
and especially for her devotion to her two boys.

Mix-a-Lot:

No ho
Had a big butt like Di
So why did she have to die
When Di walked in with her capacity to smile and laugh
and her inspirational warmth and kindness
You got sprung.

Queen:

No one who knew Diana will ever forget her.
Millions of others who never met her,
but felt they knew her,
will remember her.
I share in your determination to cherish her memory.

Mix-a-Lot:

A lot of pimps won’t like this song
Cuz them punks like to hit it and quit it
But I’d rather stay and play
Cuz I’m long and I’m strong
And I share in your determination to cherish her memory.

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