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Tone Lōc reflects on 'Wild Thing': 'It changed a lot of hip-hop'

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Tone Lōc may be known for his 1988 smash hit “Wild Thing,” but these days he has a more lowkey lifestyle. “I’m just hanging like wet clothes,” the rapper says when EW connects with him in the days leading up to the epic I Love the ’90s Tour. “I’m alright, no doubt.”

The 50-year-old Lōc, whose given name is Anthony Terrell Smith, joined artists including Salt-n-Pepa, Vanilla Ice, and Coolio on Friday for the kickoff of this year’s hottest nostalgia tour. And while decades have passed since their glory days, Lōc sees the bill’s wealth of experience as a plus. “A lot of these [artists] have been doing it for so long that they’re very comfortable on stage,” he says. “Even myself, I’m there to have fun — I’ve got a smile during every song.”

Lōc chatted with EW about what sets him and his peers apart from the “youngsters,” the enduring sex appeal of “Wild Thing,” and how his brand of hip-hop helped the genre hop across color lines.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can fans expect from the tour?

TONE LŌC: These guys that I’m on tour with actually like to go out there and have fun with the audience. They go back and forth with the audience — I don’t know if these youngsters do that. If I wasn’t having fun doing it, I honestly wouldn’t do it at all. And it’s real cool to see a lot of people — meaning entertainers — that you haven’t seen in a while. Everybody’s a lot older and they have their grandkids in the dressing room or gray hair here and there, but the main thing is that we can still rock the house.

Why do you think that this ’90s nostalgia tour sparked so much interest?

It’s not rowdy, as opposed to a lot of other things. It’s totally different. I would say it’s peaceful. Everybody just wants to come and have fun. You don’t really have to worry about fighting and this type of thing.

Could you tell me about the writing and recording of “Wild Thing”?

The [version] of “Wild Thing” I came up with is very wild. It was about straight having sex on the beach! But [Matt Dike and Michael Ross, founders of Delicious Vinyl] wanted to calm it down. They didn’t make it quite as sexual.

Why do you think people still love the song today?

People still to this day are like, “Oh my God, the first time I had sex was to that song!” People who graduated from Penn State still want me to come back and do that song because it reminds them of just having a crazy-ass time in college. [But] I think it’s a great stepping stone for hip-hop music, to tell you the truth. It opened the door for a lot more listeners, a lot more white listeners. It changed a lot of hip-hop.

What have you got in the works?

I’m not just considering, but actually writing a new album. I’m not looking for any type of comeback — I just want to get busy on these drum tracks and have fun.

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