Founding member of 2 Live Crew dies at 53
MIAMI — Christopher Wong Won, a founding member of the Miami hip-hop group 2 Live Crew whose sexually explicit lyrics triggered a national debate over the legal limits of artistic freedom, has died at the age of 53.
The group’s manager, DJ Debo, said Wong Won, known as Fresh Kid Ice, died Thursday at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Miami as a result of medical conditions he had suffered for several years.
2 Live Crew gained fame in the 1980s and 1990s for its Miami bass sound, sexually explicit lyrics and legal challenges.
A judge in Florida ruled that the group’s 1989 album “As Nasty As They Wanna Be’’ was obscene, leading to the arrest of a record store owner who refused to stop selling it. Won and 2 Live Crew frontman Luther “Uncle Luke’’ Campbell also were arrested after performing songs from the album at a show in Hollywood, Florida.
A federal appeals court later overturned the obscenity ruling, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear further arguments in the case from the group’s critics.
The Supreme Court sided with 2 Live Crew in 1994 in a separate case, ruling they had the right to parody other artists after they were sued for sampling the Roy Orbison song “Oh, Pretty Woman’’ on a clean version of “As Nasty As They Wanna Be.’’
The group’s 1990 album “Banned in the USA’’ was the first to be sold with a “parental advisory’’ label warning about its content.
“They paved the way for a lot of artists to be able to do what they do on records now,’’ Debo said. “They fought in court for people to say what they want to say.’’
Wong Won was born in 1964 in Port of Spain, Trinidad.