Uncomfortable Rapping, Part 2: The 80s

Once upon a time, I introduced you to the world of white people grabbing something they didn’t create, rap, to use it for their own commercial purposes. I didn’t have the term “cultural appropriation” handy when I first wrote about Uncomfortable Rapping, but I sure do now.

It’s not a new concept, that advertisers, filmmakers, and media creators would take art from the marginalized people who created it, eg. artists like The Sugarhill Gang, and put it in the hands of, say, someone as inexplicable and allegedly marketable as 90210’s Brian Austin Green. I mean, Elvis much? And I’m certainly not the first person to point out the phenomenon. But, I might be the first one who was compelled to write about this because of Revenge of The Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise. Hard to say.

It’s also hard to say if the big rap scene, “No On 15,” in ROTN2:NIP truly belongs on this list. We do have Larry B. Scott, as Lamar, the only black member of nerd fraternity Lambda Lambda Lambda, “as the man on the mic,” so that’s great. But,  then there’s Wormser, grown up a bit since ROTN1, supposedly “scratching” on a turntable back there. Sure he is. In fact, I was delighted to learn that it’s  actually Hitman Howie Tee, and I know this because he commented on the video on youtube, a rare moment of the comments being pleasant!This makes me feel a little bit better about the fact that I really love this dumb scene from this dumb movie. The scratching is tight! I also give Larry B. Scott and Barry Sobel (doing a good Beastie Boys thing as tri-Lamb friend Stuart) a lot of credit for pulling off some ridiculous rhymes. But mostly, it’s because I saw this movie over and over on Showtime, at a vulnerable age. My favorite is problematic, and I know it.

Right around this same time, one of my other favorites, Commander USA, gave us this entry in Uncomfortable Rapping. Hoo boy. It is somewhat saved by the fact that Jim Hendricks, as the Commander, was a DJ and had that smooth, patter-ready voice. Somewhat.

Like “No On 15,” I know all the words to the “Commander Rap,” and I don’t know how I feel about that.

Also from 1987, this is… a horror. Joe Piscopo, who for some reason people kept trying to make happen, did a series of commercials for Miller Lite in the 80s. They reach their nadir with this Run DMC/Fat Boys…parody, I guess? Except that Piscopo is in BLACK FACE, and parody is way to gentle a word for that. I hate everything about this. I mean, he’s stealing his schtick, not only from the Human Beat Box (RIP), but from Violet Beauregarde.  Watch at your own risk.

Then, we edge into this 90s, which leads me to this guy. I had the cassingle, I admit. It seemed catchy at the time is the only defense I can muster. A re-listen now confirms that it is not, in fact, catchy.

I’ll leave In Living Color the final word on Snow.

And that takes us to the 90s, where the horrors continue. Stay tuned…