This is an installment in The Posse Project, a 12-day series in which www.PHXmusic.com catches up with all 12 guys pictured on the cover of N.W.A's first album, N.W.A. and the Posse. Today, we continue with Candyman, who ironically went on to become a one hit wonder with the single "Knockin' Boots."
Also Known As: Candell Manson
Before the Photo: If anyone caught a break because of his place on the Posse record cover, it's Candyman. A classmate of Ice Cube during his time at Washington Preparatory he was unaffiliated with the group at the time. DJ Scratch and Sir Jinx report Candell Manson was splitting time between their couches when he caught a ride to the photo shoot, and somehow landed a prime spot in the front row.
Though Candyman ignored requests to be interviewed for The Posse Project, he has talked extensively about the N.W.A. and the Posse cover before, insinuating that there was already a conspiracy behind the group when the photo was taken, contradicting others, who say the success the group's classic lineup had came as a surprise.
"It was kind of top secret, the whole NWA project, they kept it under wraps real well," he told raptalk.net. "They knew that they were on to something big. They knew that they had a concept that we didn't know anything about."
If that's true, why did they put Candyman right up front? We're left to wonder. Later in that interview Candyman claimed he wrote his big single "Knockin' Boots" around that time but at least one actual N.W.A member contradicts that, saying Candyman had no involvement in the music business until he landed on the cover of Posse.
"I know that Candyman, at that time wasn't doing anything," said Arabian Prince.
In the Photo: Candyman has said the cover represents the group at it's realest, before the development of the styles commonly associated with gangsta rap.
That's why you see MC Ren as the only member of the group's classic lineup who's wearing the black ballcap and white t-shirt while Ice Cube has a clock around his neck, he says.
"That was a 'real' cover. That was an honest cover. That was without no perpetrating. You saw how Cube looked. You saw how Dre looked. Everybody was being who they really were," he said in the raptalk.net interview. "That cover means a lot to me. I was right in the middle. There were times in the Swapmeets that people thought that 'I' was Eazy E because I was right there in the middle of the picture."
Actually, Candyman later used the confusion about who was who on the Posse cover to his advantage, says Arabian Prince.
"Candyman got lucky," Arabian Prince tells me. "At the time, honestly, we used to actually get mad at Candyman because we'd be out on tour and we'd come back in town and sometimes he'd be representing N.W.A. and we were like 'Eh, eh, eh, you're not actually in the group. You're on the cover but... "
After the Photo: Candyman's story is possibly the ultimate irony of the N.W.A. and the Posse cover. Three years after the photo was taken, around the time N.W.A was releasing its hard-hitting 100 Miles and Runnin' EP, Candell had a top ten hit with "Knockin' Boots," a fun little bit of early 90s pop-rap.
"Knockin' Boots" — the second-biggest hit on the topic of boot knockin' released in the early 90s — took his Ain't No Shame in My Game album into Billboard's top 200. Candy toured with Tone Loc and Milli Vanilli but couldn't follow up on his success. His sophomore effort, Playtime Is Over, only had one charting single, the incredibly odd "Oneighundredskytalkpinelevenotwosevenine."
In 1993, just after Ice Cube's "It Was A Good Day" told of the time Cube saw the lights of the Goodyear Blimp (it said "Ice Cube's a Pimp") Candyman tried to paint a similar picture with the cover of his third album, I Thought U Knew.
The album was more Zeppelin than blimp, however, failing both commercially and critically. The longest review available simply reads: "The third Candyman CD, his first for I.R.S., lacked either the pop charm of his debut or the leering insolence of the followup."
Candyman was dropped from his major label contract soon after and decided to go gangsta. The cover of his fourth record, 1995's Phukk Watcha Goin' Thru, depicted the rapper posing in front of gold rims wearing a cabbie hat. In addition to songs tailored to his newly gangsta-fied image, Phukk contained a follow-up to Candyman's lone hit "Knockin' Boots" (again, the second-biggest hit on the topic of boot knockin' released in the early 90s) called, unsurprisingly, "Knockin Boots Pt. 2."
"Knockin Boots Pt. 2" wasn't Candyman's last variation on the boot meme. Five years later Candell got back to his pop-rap roots with an album called Knockin' Boots 2001: A Sex Odyssey.
Things got worse a year later when Candy dropped Platinum Hits. Despite what the name implies, it wasn't a greatest hits album — Candyman only had a singular hit — but another try at gangsta rap. Songs like "Dear Mama" and "Thug Life" weren't a success, perhaps sparing him a lawsuit from the estate of Tupac Shakur.
Now: Candyman lives in Vegas and books parties. Considering the heated public feuds which divided loyalties between the superstars on the Posse cover — Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy E — it's surprising that Candyman is probably the least popular person in this photo, dissed by several others pictured when he was mentioned.
"Candyman always kinda thought his shit didn't stink," said one of the other guys from the cover. "He's still that way."
According to Allhiphop.com's rumors page Candyman now puts together stripper parties, including one for Ray-J, the brother of R&B singer Brandy, who is most famous for his sex video for Kim Kardashian. (Candyman's reported involvement isn't the only XXX action involving a former N.W.A affiliate: DJ Yella, the only member of the group's Straight Outta Compton lineup not on the Posse cover now produces adult films.)
People Don't Know: That Candyman plays both sides of the gangsta card, alternating between 'pop-rapper' and 'streetwise thug' every couple albums. He's currently doing the pop thing and criticizing the others for not being real enough. He also claims to be one of two people actually drinking on the N.W.A. and the Posse cover.
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People Don't Know: That Notorious B.I.G was inspired by Candyman — or so Candyman claims.
"I came out before Pac and Biggie. Biggie gave me props! I met Biggie! Biggie came right up to me and gave me props when him and Craig Mack was out. I remember that like yesterday. When Biggie did that song 'One More Chance' that was a Candyman type of song," Candyman said in the extensive raptalk.net interview. "People was watching the blue-print. You can put that in writing!"
Check out the other installments in the Posse Project Here: