A Week of Fridays: Midi, Maxi & Efti, “Bad Bad Boys”

The simplest way for me to express how important my friend Rhienna is to my life is to include a link to a picture of the little dog we wouldn’t have if not for her. I’m endlessly impressed by the exuberant passion she brings to the things she enjoys. She doesn’t just love, she adores, and it’s wonderful to watch in action. I truly wish I could borrow some of her ambition, energy and fearlessness, especially around Sundance Film Festival time. She’s also the only one of this week’s contributors who can claim to have seen me struggle to recapture remnants of my high school French on relevant terrain.

When I was first approached to write this post, I was tied with feeling like I had all the options in the world (it’s true; I did) and not knowing where to begin. Sometimes, a clean slate feels too open–where are the rules I’d usually complain about, the constraints that I’d ask for exception to?

In today’s era, where one can acquire digital copies of almost anything (from using a YouTube transcriber to create an mp3 off of a video, to file sharing sites and communities), it’s hard to say what is Out Of Print. Generally, we think of something out of print as a book that a publisher is no longer making, or a film on moratorium (god I miss using that word). For the music industry, it’s different: a new label may pick-up an old release, while a small label might only do a limited run of a given EP.

About a year ago, I became obsessed with digging back into the vault of 1990s. I had just started up a DJ night playing exclusively 90s music, which became a perfect excuse to get pretty dang nostalgic for, effectively, the first decade of music I was actively seeking out and purchasing myself. Strangely, the 90s are a polarizing decade that few people are enthusiastic about (yet?): 80s Nights are as common a favorite hangout of old punks and bachelorette parties alike. But the 90s? A decade of hammerpants and backwards overalls? A harder sell.

A lot of my favorite 90s songs had maintained their stay in my library collection, but so many songs had fallen to obscurity by an aging, attention-deficit brain. I had been randomly going through YouTube channels, remembering that Robyn of “Call Your Girlfriend” was the same Robyn of “Show Me Love,” that T-Boz, Left-Eye, and Chilli were all gorgeous and also kind of ridiculous at the same time, and that, contrary to what you’d expect, Tone Loc actually was popular in the 80s. I don’t remember what reminded me, but suddenly, the thread of a song popped into my memory, and I had the vaguest, most where-does-this-shit-get-stored moment wherein I tried to access exactly why I was picturing Rosie Perez in a waitress uniform, like, wiping down some tables and singing along to a Jam.

With the help of the internet, I realized that the image of Ms. Perez came from Untamed Heart (which I haven’t watched since I was young enough to not be annoyed by Christian Slater), and the song she was working her hips to was “Bad Bad Boys” by Midi, Maxi & Efti.

According to the Interwebz, Midi, Maxi and Efti were Ethiopian refugees that arrived in Sweden in the mid 80s, and released a self-titled album in 1991. Sisters Midi and Maxi along with their friend Efti were influenced by African music; though they wrote the lyrics, their music was composed and produced by other contributors (including the men behind Army of Lovers). Their self-titled LP was released in the United States in 1992.

“Bad Bad Boys” has a refrain that makes you want to hum it all day long (except I’m pretty sure no one really wants to get busted chanting the words, “bad bad boys come with me” at any point in their existence), and though dated, the repetitive beat and layered musicality is, frankly, the tits. The lyrics, however, are another thing (fuel to the fire if you watch the video and watch dour-faced pre-teens sort of unexecitedly beckon Much Older Boys). My favorite guilty pleasure is the moment where Efti breaks it down: “Hi it’s me if you know what I mean/ my name is Efti…/ don’t be negative/ just be positive.” I mean, I’ve been trying for twenty years to figure out “what she means” and I still have no idea, but I’m charmed nonetheless.

“Bad Bad Boys” has since been remixed a few times, which is pretty charming. But the original edit (as far as I can tell) is known well enough (or solid enough) that it won’t clear a dance floor, though it’s easily the kind of song that gets dropped off of all kinds of Best Of the 1990s lists. Did everyone but Rosie Perez forget about the hip-shaking power of this dub track? Maybe Midi, Maxi & Efti were destined to fade away into obscurity, but I like to do my part and play their track every so often to give them some much-deserved recognition.

Midi, Maxi & Efti, “Bad Bad Boys”

Disclaimer: This song is posted and shared with the understanding that it is out of print and therefore unavailable for purchase in a way that will provide due compensation to both the artist and the proprietor of your favorite local, independently-owned record store. I will gladly remove it from the interweb if requested to do so by someone with due authority to make sure a request.

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