This article originally appeared on VICE US
"Put It In Your Mouth," the gleefully crass oral sex duet from neighborhood friends Akinyele Adams and Kia Jeffries, begins and ends with the sound of explosive laughter. Your own cackling will likely drown out much of the song itself. Recorded in one day at Power Play Studios in Queens, the track was a pioneering example of blunt female sexuality in rap, predating early 2000s hits like "My Neck, My Back (Lick It)" and Lil’ Kim’s "How Many Licks?" by years. No one sounded like Akinyele and Kia in 1996, and no one who has heard their outrageous ode to oral will ever forget it.
In some ways, the song is a reflection of their respective backgrounds: Akinyele was a young rapper with an album called Vagina Diner under his belt, while Kia was an aspiring R&B and Broadway performer who’d once worked with Paul Simon on a musical that never got made. Accordingly, the song tells a story of absurd contrasts, combining a sweet, sing-songy chorus and a 70s acoustic guitar sample colliding with aggressive calls for "mouth-fucking." Over the course of his verse alone, Akinyele compares his cock to chapstick, dental anesthesia, Herbie Hancock, and the short-lived NBC sitcom B.J. and the Bear. Change the lyrics, and you’d have the makings of a pop radio hit—or a jingle you could sing to a baby who refuses to open for a spoonful of Gerber. Instead, Kia and Akinyele dove head-first into getting head, giving the deed its definitive musical tribute.
Thanks in part to play from New York DJs like Funkmaster Flex and Akinyele’s own pornographic live shows (more on those below)—and despite having neither a video nor a "clean" radio edit—the song became a cult classic, driving Akinyele’s Put It In Your Mouth EP to No. 5 on Billboard’s weekly Heatseekers chart in the fall of 1996. Artists and fans have been paying tribute to its audacity ever since: YouTube is rife with ironic covers, Run the Jewels reimagined the track on 2014’s "Love Again (Akinyele Back)," and you can find references to the song all over hip-hop, from Jeremih’s "Planez" to Big Pun’s "I’m Not a A Player."
Today, Akinyele is a strip club owner, and Kia works as a musician, promoter, and activist. She still plays the song at her shows, and Akinyele is in the early stages of launching Put It In Your Mouth Records, a platform for supporting provocative young artists. We asked Akinyele and Kia to tell us the story behind the immortal sex-rap banger, along with producer Chris "C4" Forte and Jessica Rosenblum, Akinyele’s former manager and executive producer of the 1996 EP. Read on for an oral history of an oral sex anthem.
The "Put It In Your Mouth" Origin Story
Akinyele: My first album was titled Vagina Diner. When I make an album, it takes me eight, nine months. It’s just like having a baby, so when the album doesn’t hit, it’s like you had a miscarriage. So after that, I do the [Put It In Your Mouth] EP. Now I feel like, "OK, I’m going all out. I’m just having fun. Suck my dick." I came from an era where hip-hop was supposed to be rebellious, so I’m just rebelling all over. And I was always infatuated with sex.
C4: The ["Put It In Your Mouth"] beat was like four years old already. That’s the funny thing: I really didn’t think that hip-hop was ready for acoustic guitar, so I just let it sit for years. One day, Ak was in the car with me, and I had the beat playing. He heard it and said, "Hey, I got something for that." I had already committed the beat to Elektra Records—they had already paid me and everything. Uncharacteristically of the industry, they were like, "Look, we know you got people waiting on this beat. You can take it back." Then I gave it to Ak, and the rest is history.
Kia: Ak came to me with the song. He had the hook and he had the beat. He said his verse, and I was like, "Ugh." He was like, "I want you write a verse about how you want your na-na licked." I knew I had to come hard to represent for the ladies, cuz his verse was disgusting.
Akinyele: My studio sessions were kinda crazy. I had naked pictures all around the walls in my studio. I would take porn magazines, hang everything up, and we’d just get creative.
Kia: Akinyele had a bunch of hood dudes in there. I came by myself, so it was me and like 11 dudes.
Akinyele: During the recording, there were about 16 lost souls who had nothing to lose in that room. All we had was the music, trying to make it and survive.
C4: I came to the studio blind. So when he started spitting on it, I’m like, "Man, he’s gonna waste this." But when Kia started singing, I was like, "It might not be a total waste." It’s just crazy to hear somebody who can actually sing singing something like this. It wasn’t just "shorty from around the way that can sing a little something." No—Kia can sing. And when Kia started playing the piano in the beginning, I said, "Wow, she’s an artist." The audacity of it all started chipping away at my reluctance.
Kia: That’s me playing the piano, yeah. We decided to do that on the fly. Ak said, "Hey, I want you to play something real gospel-y. Like, make it sound like it’s gonna be some kind of R&B record. Then we’re gonna flip it."
Akinyele: I wanted the song to be a story. The beginning was foreplay, you know? Every man who has gotten his dick sucked, for the most part, you never came out and said, "Hey, suck my dick!" You’re more like, "Hey, can you give it a kiss?"
Kia: We just put everyone around the piano. We said, "Let’s make it seem like we’re out somewhere, like at a club with a live band." The chords are from [R&B supergroup] Shalamar.
Akinyele: I wanted the hook to shock. I wanted to make records that sang, but were very shocking—melodies where you loved it, it got in you, and when you heard the words you were like, "Wow. This is what they’re really saying."
Akinyele: My verse actually came out on a Doo-Wop mixtape first. The song had me, Lord Tariq, and Fat Joe on it. We did a remix to the Brandy song "I Wanna Be Down." So that’s where I’m like, "You wanna go down, why not?" After that, I took the lyrics and put it on the "Put It In Your Mouth" beat. I was using metaphors on different ways you could pull out your dick. That’s what makes the song so good: You could just say "suck my dick," but if you can make her smile with your dick in your hand, you got a great chance right now.
Kia: We’re talking [about] 90s. Now, it’s normal to be raunchy and say what you want. Back then, they weren’t singing stuff like that. I felt extra sexy and kind of nasty. I definitely felt like, "Oh my god, I’m not gonna be able to let my mom hear this song." I had a ball writing it.
Akinyele: [One of my lines was "Fuck chapsticks / I'm coming ashy as hell, with chapped dicks / For your chapped ass lips." The idea was:] So I have no lotion on my cock at all, just like your lips have no lotion on them, you know? We just gotta make a combination. We’re both coming from chappy places! Like, let’s go! [And with "Creamin’ your teeth like dentists as I'm rubbin’ them / With an erection like injections, fuck it I be druggin them"]—The erection is like an injection. It’s hard and it’s going in and out, in and out. If you hang in there long enough, you’re gonna be high off life, because so much sperm will be coming out. [And for "I'm givin’ bitches permanent beards"]—at the genitals, you have pubic hairs. When she’s giving you head, her chin is touching your hairs. So you’re giving her "permanent beards." I’m a metaphoric rapper. I’m trying to link the worlds together.
C4: I remember having a problem with [the line "No time for apologin."] I remember stopping the tape when he said "apologin," and I said "Ak, are you serious?" He was like, "It’s hip-hop, man—just let it go!" And I was like, "Nah, man. Apologin? Ugh, my god." Then what happens? Years later, Kanye grabs it and uses that line in one of his songs.
Kia: When I did my verse, I was in the vocal booth by myself, and they were all in the control room area. When I finished recording, I remember Ak said, "Yeah, that’s good." And I was like, "Are you sure? One take?" He was like, "Yeah, it’s perfect." When I came in and they were mixing it, it was dead quiet. I’m looking around at the guys. I nudged Ak, like, "Yo, what happened?" And he was like, "Oh, these dudes? Their dicks is hard." I was like, "Is that what’s going on, guys?" And they were like, "Yeah, pretty much." And I was like, "That means I did good, right?"
Akinyele: Stay disrespectful. That’s what I told Kia the whole time. The guidance was like, "Look, I want you to go. Get that done."
Kia: Our phrase was: "This is a disrespectful song." I guess that’s what made people really love it and gravitate toward it.
Akinyele: Raekwon had a song out, and at the end of it, he was like, "What do you believe in, heaven or hell? You don’t believe in heaven, cuz we’re living in hell." So [with the outro], I went from there. It’s like, whatever the fuck it is, it’s your pick. Whether you were gonna suck a dick or lick a pussy—it’s your pick. We’re in America.
The Live Shows
Jessica Roseblum: You got to remember that Ak had already put out Vagina Diner. Nobody was expecting some clean and sweet new record from him. If you were in the industry or hung out in the clubs, the song wasn’t that shocking. What was shocking was how good it was.
Kia: The shows were ridiculous.
Akinyele: I would come out on stage and go up against the hugest artists out. You name ‘em. I would say, "Hi, my name is Akinyele. The song is called ‘Put It In Your Mouth.’ Is there anyone who would like to come on this stage and get their dick sucked tonight?" And someone would participate. We would have a lady there who loved fellatio. And I’d sing the song and it would happen. We made history on stage.
Kia: We were at dick-sucking contests. We would do all kinds of strip club shows, but also these weird dick-sucking contests. That was the weirdest thing. I’m like, "Is this my life? What is going on?"
Jessica: We did outrageous stuff. We packed a tour bus with a whole bunch of strippers and paraded up and down Miami. We made these promo shirts. The girl’s ones said something like "Or you can eat me out" and the guy’s ones were like, "Put it in your mouth." There were two different versions, with graphics. Everyone was proudly wearing them around.
Kia: As a female trying to be taken seriously in the music industry, I didn’t know what to do sometimes.
Akinyele: At that time, with R&B music, Whitney Houston was big. Toni Braxton was big. Everybody wanted to go in that direction. So Kia didn’t really want to put her face next to the record that hard because she wanted to have a successful R&B career.
Kia: There was a time when I thought [the song] was a hindrance. I remember trying to shop some songs, and Patti Labelle was going to buy a ballad from me. But when she did her research and found out that I sang that song, she took the offer off the table. I was like, "So what, is that a problem?" And they were like, "Yeah, she doesn’t want to be associated with the song."
C4: It’s a classic record. I still get phone calls about it. This had to be the most ghetto wedding you’ve ever seen, but a friend of mine from Cleveland called me and said, "I went to this wedding, and you would never guess what the wedding song was." I had no idea, because that was the last thing I would think. He said they threw "Put It In Your Mouth" on, and the place went crazy. Everybody jumped up.
Jessica: A large amount of credit is due to Kia. Yes, the hook was catchy, but she was so crystal clear. Her diction is so good, and she didn’t sound like anybody else. I’m sure, for her, it’s one of the most frustrating things in life that it didn’t translate into a huge career.
Kia: Now, I’m cool. It’s definitely part of hip-hop history. It’s fun to watch generations gravitate toward this record. My son is 21. When he was a teenager, his friends would be like, "That’s your mom?!? Oh my god!" It’s amazing that it’s got this longevity. It’s still kind of shocking.
Jessica: It was just scandalous. Ak loved it. It was like the more notorious he got, the better it was for the song.
Akinyele: Any notoriety is a badge of honor when you take a song out the sky and bring it to life. You write it for the platinum plaques, but you take whatever badge it gets. And you go with it in pride.