NY Times Discovers Narnia Rap a Week and a Half Later
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.
Tags: SNL, Saturday Night Live, Narnia Rap, Andy Samberg, Village Voice, gay, Lazy Sunday, Lonely Island, New York Times, rap, hiphop, Eminem