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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.

3rd Bass released their first single without any press photos or interviews to intentionally hide the fact both rappers were white. After a writer from The Village Voice exposed them, the group quickly became “the first critically respected white hip-hop group since the Beastie Boys”.

“Steppin' To The A.M.” and “The Gas Face” both peaked at #5 on the US Rap Chart and The Cactus Album 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. Years later, The Source would name 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 . 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. 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 but when they were offered a spot at Woodstock ‘99, they reunited. A single, “Hail To The Chief”, followed in 2000, but that was the end of their brief reunion. Thirteen years later, the group briefly reunited again to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Cactus Album.

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