Ever since I was 11 years old I’ve been trying to work out what music I liked, other than the Beatles / classical music / west-end musical / intricate guitary combo I was brought up with. I remember buying the Cranberries album in 1993/4 for Zombie, and feeling a bit unsettled that – other than Zombie – it wasn’t quite what I expected. And since then I found my feet in a rock/alt rock/folk rock and occasional hip-hop melange that feels like “me” when I turn the volume up.
One slightly more niche genre that keeps rearing its head is musical comedy, and more specifically – comedy rap. My brother introduced me to Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince when I was 11 years old and I distinctly remember thinking that the song “I think I can beat Mike Tyson” was one of the funniest things to be composed ever at the time (I now know it’s not). In it, Will Smith challenges Mike Tyson to a fight and gets seven types of crap kicked out of him.
Needless to say, when The Lonely Island materialised with their epochal ‘Incredibad’ album a couple of years ago, featuring such works of self-deprecating parody as “On a boat” and “Like a boss” (all LI videos are NSFW, btw) I felt that the void that had been made as the Fresh Prince evolved into Wiki-wiki-Will Smith had once again been filled. So it was with not a little anticipation that I checked out some tracks from the new album, Turtleneck and Chain.
Sadly, for me, for the most part, it doesn’t live up to the heights of its predecessor. The tunes aren’t as catchy, the raps aren’t as articulate or funny. But two things made me smile.
First, the song “Rocky”, in which Andy Samberg challenges Rocky to a fight and gets seven types of crap kicked out of him. Sound familiar? I wonder if it was a deliberate homage to the Fresh Prince (in which case it’s clever-ish) or if its (in)advertant plagiarism (in which case, not so much).
Second, “Jack Sparrow”. There are few people whose swagger I’d like to match, but Captain Jack has a certain slurry je ne sais quois that has got to make for a hell of a party trick. Michael Bolton feels the same way – check it out: