Paul Reubens, the Philadelphia-born actor and comedian, best known for his lovable portrayal of the film and TV character Pee-wee Herman, died on Sunday (July 30) after a private battle with cancer, according to Variety. He was 70.
A veteran of stage and screen, Reubens is best known for his creation of Pee-wee Herman, a character he brought to film in 1985 with Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and then in 1988 with Big Top Pee-wee. Both films were critical and commercial successes. After that, Reubens segued the Pee-wee Herman character into television from 1986 to 1990 on CBS’ Saturday morning show Pee-wee’s Playhouse, where the character became a cultural icon for children and hip-hop fans who enjoyed his childlike humor.
Pee-wee’s dance sequence in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure inspired rapper Joe Ski Love to create the 1986 platinum-selling single “Pee Wee Dance” and sparked a nationwide dance craze. Watch the video below.
Since then, rappers have name-checked Pee-wee Herman in their songs. For example, on Lil Wayne‘s 2018 song “Go Brazy,” Weezy compared his house to that of Pee-wee’s playhouse, which was famously filled with gadgets and toys. “My house lit like Pee-wee Herman’s and you know I bought it furnished,” he boasts on the track.
On Nas‘ 2006 song “Hope,” the veteran rhymer reflects on his childhood growing up in Queens, N.Y., and doing the popular dances. “I understood I had to come from the hood/Doing the Pee-wee Herman, the Smurf/Before them phones chirped,” he raps.
Over time, there have been plenty of other notable “Pee-wee Herman” references from Eminem, D12, Freddie Gibbs, Chief Keef, Mac Miller, Joe Budden, Tyler, the Creator and more. Check out the gallery of hip-hop lyrics mentioning late Paul Reubens character Pee-wee Herman below.