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3rd Bass

About 3rd Bass

In 1986, white rapper Lord Scotch introduced Peter ‘Pete Nice’ Nash to Michael ‘MC Serch’ Berrin at the famous NY nightclub Latin Quarter. At the time, Pete Nice hosted a hip hop radio show on Columbia University’s radio station with Richard “Richie Rich” Lawson. The three began performing as 3 the Hard Way, later calling themselves 3rd Bass. They soon signed with Def Jam Records.

At first, 3rd Bass released their first single without any press photos or interviews to intentionally hide the fact that both rappers were white. Once a writer from The Village Voice exposed them, the group quickly became “the first critically respected white hip-hop group since the Beastie Boys” with the release of their debut The Cactus Album. The group explained in 2013 why they feel the rap community had accepted them early on:

(Pete Nice): It wasn’t as if we were some outsiders that came in and tried to jump on the bandwagon. We had paid our dues. We respected the music and knew that it was black music and paid the proper respect and didn’t clown with it. I think people saw that.

(Serch): I don’t think hip-hop is about race. What it is about is people who respect the culture and respect where the culture came from. Because if you lose that base, you lose what the culture is, which is a voice of the people in the streets.

Their first two singles, “Steppin' To The A.M.” and “The Gas Face” both peaked at #5 on the US Rap Chart and sent The Cactus Album to #55 on the Billboard 200. It was certified Gold within six months. Overseas, those two singles plus “Brookyn-Queens” achieved modest success in the UK. In New Zealand, “The Gas Face” and “Brooklyn-Queens” were both top 40 hits. In 1998, The Source named The Cactus Album as one of the 100 Best Rap Albums.

3rd Bass soon found themselves involved in controversy. First, Pete Nice used the name of Hammer’s 1988 single “Turn This Mutha Out” to diss to him in their song “Cactus”, simply to say they are better than him. However, Hammer interpreted the line as Pete Nice dissing his mother. According to Serch, Hammer then put a hit out on the group. Hammer, however, has denied this.

Secondly, the group dissed the Beastie Boys, who had just left Def Jam Records, in their track “Sons Of 3rd Bass”. The Beasties responded with lines directed at Serch in their song “Professor Booty”. Thirdly, during an argument between Serch and Professor Griff (of Public Enemy) in the halls of Def Jam, Griff allegedly called Serch a “Jew bastard”. Griff later said that he didn’t remember saying it, but eyewitness insisted that he did.

In June of 1991, 3rd Bass released their second and final album Derelicts Of Dialect. Its lead single “Pop Goes The Weasel” was an attack on Vanilla Ice and his recent success crossing over to ‘hit pop’ with what 3rd Bass considered a lack of respect to the origins and soul of hip hop. It became their biggest hit, reaching #29 on the US Pop Chart and topping the Rap Chart. It also reached the top 20 in New Zealand and found modest success in the UK. The album was certified Gold within three months.

While touring in support of Derelicts Of Dialect, infighting, creative differences and the desire to pursue other interests had begun to tear the group apart, causing 3rd Bass to split in 1991 .

After the breakup, Serch released his 1992 solo record Return of the Product. Its single “Back To The Grill”, featuring a then-unsigned Nas, topped the Rap Chart and hit #72 on the Hot 100, pushing the album to a #103 peak. Serch (via producer T-Ray) is credited for discovering Nas and getting him signed to Columbia/Sony.

Pete Nice & Richie Rich teamed up to release 1993’s Dust to Dust which had no hit single and reached #171 on the Billboard 200.

Serch and Pete Nice didn’t speak for several years after the breakup of 3rd Bass. It wasn’t until they were offered a performance at Woodstock ‘99 that they finally reunited. A single, “Hail To The Chief”, followed in 2000, but that was the end of their brief reunion.

Since 2000, Serch hosted both a Detroit radio show and a talk show named Serch. Pete Nice left the music business and became a baseball memorabilia collector/expert and owns an Irish pub in Boston with Dropkick Murphys singer Ken Casey. He has had a few run-ins with the law as well, including a school loan scandal, tax evasion and being accused of having fake baseball memorabilia. In 2013, Richie Rich owned an HVAC business.

In 2013, the group reunited again to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Cactus Album, but the reunion only lasted for promotional visits with press and two live performances.

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