Words by Jesse Serwer, Photos by Christopher Mitchell
As one-quarter of the notoriously X-rated 2 Live Crew, Chris Wong-Won—aka Fresh Kid Ice—became a pioneer of Miami Bass music and a martyr for First Amendment rights in the 1980s. Perhaps somewhat lesser known was that before he was exhorting girls to “Pop that P” and “Move Somethin,'”Wong-Won, who was perhaps better known by his other nickname, “The Chinaman,” was born in Trinidad.
Young Chris was born in Port of Spain’s Belmont area and lived in Trinidad until age 12, when his family relocated to the heart of New York City’s Caribbean community in Flatbush, Brooklyn. After attending Tilden High School (alma mater of Rev. Al Sharpton) with members of the rap group UTFO, he joined the Air Force in Riverside, California, and co-founded 2 Live Crew with DJ Mr. Mixx and fellow rapper Amazing Vee. It was only after repeat bookings from a Miami promoter named Luther Campbell that Chris and Mr. Mixx decided to ditch the West Coast and the Air Force for the sunny beaches and booming car-speaker systems of South Florida.
Nearly three decades after that fateful cross-country move and 2 Live Crew’s brush with Tipper Gore and the Supreme Court, 2 Live Crew has reformed (minus Uncle Luke, now coaching youth football) with plans to release a new album, entitled Turn Me On, in early 2015. All these years later, however, Chris has never really discussed his background as a Trinidadian or his pioneering role as hip-hop’s first “Chinaman.” With Miami Carnival about to go down this weekend, we wanted to shine a light on some avenues of Miami Caribbean culture you might not know about. So we caught up recently with Fresh Kid Ice at Circle House, the world-renowned Miami recording studio owned by reggae legends Inner Circle for a conversation about being Black, Chinese and Trini–and a soldier for free speech.