Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Jun 19th 2009 4:30PM by James Sullivan
Robinson, also known as Buff Love (and, on occasion, the Ox That Rocks), was the most obvious reason for the Brooklyn group's self-deprecating name: At 450 pounds, he weighed more than fellow group members Mark "Prince Markie Dee" Morales and Damon "Kool Rock-Ski" Wimbley combined. Originally known as the Disco 3, the group adopted its new name after a European tour, when their manager complained about a $350 hotel bill for "extra breakfasts."
Along with Doug E. Fresh, Buff was one of the earliest pioneers of beatboxing, having taught himself the art form when his family couldn't afford a drum set. After winning a rap contest at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, the group was a New York sensation, combining Buff's beatbox showcases ('The Human Beat Box,' 'Reality') with nods to old-school rock 'n' roll ('Jail House Rap'). The Fat Boys starred alongside LL Cool J, Run-DMC and Whodini on Fresh Fest, the first major hip-hop tour, and they appeared in rap's early venture into Hollywood, 'Krush Groove.'
The Fat Boys made the most of their stardom, cutting Top 20 pop hits and goofy videos with the Beach Boys ('Wipeout') and Chubby Checker ['The Twist (Yo! Twist)'] and starring in the slapstick feature film 'Disorderlies.' But they were ill-prepared for the arrival of gangsta rap. By the early 1990s, Prince Markie Dee was a solo act. (After doing some big-name production, he's now a drive-time DJ for Miami's WMIB.)
Meanwhile, Buffy and Kool Rock hung on, sometimes hosting 'Yo! MTV Raps' in its early days. But Buff's excessive weight brought about premature health problems, including a little-understood condition called lymphedema. Suffering from a respiratory ailment, he was rapping for friends in a home studio in Queens one night in December 1995 when he collapsed.
"He got off the couch and was climbing on a studio chair when he fell and lost his wind," his brother Curt told a reporter. Efforts to revive the big man were unsuccessful. At 28, he was dead of a massive heart attack.
Robinson's girth was what he had to work with, and he lived and died by it. Rumors of a Fat Boys reunion had been circulating for some time when Kool Rock released an EP earlier this year, with guest appearances from fans Jay-Z and T-Pain. Just don't call it a comeback: At 175 pounds, Kool Rock is hardly a Fat Boy anymore.