One of the most prominent members of the hardcore rap/hip-hop ensemble Public Enemy (and arguably its most colorful contributor), Flavor Flav (born William Drayton in 1959) joined his bandmates in breaking new ground within the said musical genres. Public Enemy's ability to rewrite the rules of rap as a vehicle for the expression of urban social concerns (and angst), coupled with innovative soundscapes unlike anything heard up through that time, arguably turned it into the most influential rap or hip-hop group to emerge during the mid- to late '80s. Throughout it all, Flav provided the comic edge to offset the sobriety and gravity of band member Chuck D's lyrics. Flav's outrageous appearance did much to impart this -- he typically sported a massive number of rings on each hand, wore a giant clock on a chain around his neck, and had all of his front teeth encased in solid gold, into which were engraved the letters of his stage name.
For the majority of his career, Flav remained with Enemy, only issuing a debut solo record in 2006 (an early 1999 effort, It's About Time, went unreleased). He began to branch out into film roles as early as 1990, with a small role in Spike Lee's jazz-flavored musical drama Mo' Better Blues, then followed it up with a similar role in New Jack City and cameos as his inimitable self in CB4: The Movie (1993) and Who's the Man? (1993). In an unforgettable stint, Flav participated alongside Charo, Dave Coulier, and others in season three of VH1's The Surreal Life (2004). During that season, Flav and statuesque Scandinavian model-turned-actress Brigitte Nielsen struck up a now-famous on-camera love affair, which prompted the network to initiate a spin-off reality series for the mordantly unhappy couple, entitled Strange Love; episodes typically featured the lovers screaming at each other incessantly and the program ended after only one season. Flav, however, signed for a follow-up MTV reality series, devoted exclusively to himself and his pursuit of lifelong love. Entitled The Flavor of Love, it debuted in 2006. Meanwhile, the performer heightened his emphasis on non-musical comedy via participation in the Comedy Central Roast of Flavor Flav (2007). In 2008, Flav took on a regular role as Calvester Hill on the My Network TV sitcom Under One Roof. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi