Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

NY Times Discovers Narnia Rap a Week and a Half Later

The New York Times writes about "Lazy Sunday" today, proving once again that if you're reading it in the Times, you know it's last week's news (if not last month's). As I already wrote here, I think Andy Samberg's sex appeal is the main force behind the video's popularity, and it's weird the way the critics have been ignoring what a sex symbol he is. Are they threatened by their attraction to him? My friend Damon called him "definitely fugly," but I think he's the most delicious person to get mainstream attention in ages. Maybe it's just me, but I doubt it.

Anyhow, there are some somewhat interesting tidbits in the NY Times article, for instance that it was only approved for broadcast half an hour before airtime. I can't believe how close they were to missing out on the best thing that's happened on that show in years (well, except for Amy Poehler, who is also hilarious).

On Friday, Slate included this essay by Josh Levin about the rap (repeating many points already made by Tom Breihan in the Voice a week ago). Levin compares them to the early Beastie Boys, then says

it's notable that these moments of goofiness and whimsy are what make "Lazy Sunday" work as a rap song, not just a comedy sketch. It's hard to think of a Top 40 hip-hop track that's similarly playful. Eminem's subgenre of silly songs ("The Real Slim Shady," "Ass Like That") all feel calculated—the references to MTV ensure that his videos get a ton of airplay on MTV. Sure, Ludacris co-starred in a video with Mini-Me. But for the most part, whimsy gets buried. The highlight of 50 Cent's oeuvre, for instance, is a sidelong lyric from "21 Questions": "I love you like a fat kid loves cake."

People aren't forwarding this video because it's a parody of what's bad about rap; they're sending it around because it's an ode to what can be great about it. Instead of auguring a new day for SNL, maybe it points up what's missing in mainstream rap—an awareness that it's OK to be goofy. Who needs Biz Markie and Tone-Loc? We've got Samberg and Parns.

As everybody has noted, that beat is sick, and their flow is credible. I disagree that they hearken back to 80s rap like Run DMC and the Beastie Boys. Part of what distinguishes them from the Beastie Boys is that their delivery is not jokey and sarcastic. It's straight gangsta, which is absolutely crucial to the humor.

Levin doesn't quite get that what's new about it is that they're not jokesters going "aren't I a goofy white rapper haw haw." Most goofy rappers have goofy delivery (going all the way back to The Fat Boys, Digital Underground and The Fresh Prince). Instead, these guys contrast hard, aggressive flow with really silly, sensitive subjects. I can't think of another rapper doing that (even Eminem has a boyish, non-thug delivery in his humorous songs). It's simultaneously cute, funny, and good. They deliver it straight-faced and gangsta and actually manage to create a good rap track, which makes the underlying humor much, much funnier.

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  • At 10:47 PM, Blogger Mojotek said…

    Wow... what an analysis of the whole video. I guess Josh Levin is right. But all I really know is that watching the video makes me all warm inside and giggly on the outside. Isn't that what matters?

  • At 11:07 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Haha word. Warm inside, giggly on the outside... kinda like a Magnolia cupcake!

  • At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Generic Viagra said…

    What a particular way to express feelings, because what they wanted was to being filmed because they wanted to catch the people attention, I think they did a complete ridiculous.m10m


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