Monday, September 3, 2012

Hot Cheetos and Takis: Pure Gold

If you have not watched this yet, please click above.

If you have already watched it, obviously you immediately hit play so you could listen while you read this, because it is JUST. THAT. GOOD.

The video above was produced by a YMCA after school program in North Minneapolis.  The students are aged 8-12.  And it is my favorite song of the past 6 months.

I say that with a 100% straight face.

And I listen to a lot of music.

It's that good.

So, seeing all of that, and that I've listened to it around 100 times in the past 10 days, this blog post was inevitable.

So, let's chat about this wondrous creation.

If you haven't watched the video, do so now, or stop reading, because the rest of this will be total gibberish without that knowledge.

From the top, Dame Jones.

Dame Jones.  The amount of stage presence he possess in his Vancouver Grizzlies hat alone is greater than most Top 40 singer's entire persons.  Plus, the kid can spit.  After hundreds of practice attempts I'm proud to say I can now deliver the "Pull up to the studio cuz you know that the kids be meltin' them microphones" line successfully 25% of the time.  Try it yourself, that's a lot of syllables.

Now upon my first viewing, I was immediately sold on the hook of "Snack, snack, snack, CRUNCH, snack, snack, snack, MUNCH."  Because, that's brilliant.  It's memorable.  It's approachable.  And anybody can clearly understand it.  My father is a noted rap fan, but moreso he is also over 60, an engineer, and from Greene, Iowa, yet I have no doubt that he could deliver that line.  It's perfect (in fact, I heard he'd be appearing on the remix).

But, then, I began listening to the nuance and wordplay of the lyrics.  Holy smokes.

That took it to another level.

The best being, my boy, Nasir, who supplanted Dame Jones as my favorite rapper a few days ago, when I realized his straight up brilliance.  He is the second rapper.  And he kills it.

A few notes.  He's wearing a shirt that says "Take over the world" And indeed he will.

Second, he's wearing glasses reminiscent of Horace Grant.  And I love Horace Grant.

Third, he delivers this set of lines:

Yo, I'm hungry where them Cheetos at/
They stay bitin' like where them mosquitos at/
I'm on point like an elbow, hands red like Elmo/
My momma says, "Have you had enough/
I looked at her and said "No ma'am"

Boom.  Do you see what just happened there?  

Obviously, "on point like an elbow" has entered my daily lexicon, and the word/kid-play with Elmo is awesome.  But, even more awesome, is what he does with the next line, as he sets you up to think he's going to very rudely swear at his momma in response to her query (and rhyme with Elmo), but instead he pulls a brilliant switch and respond both ultra-polite AND sets up his rhyme scheme for the next verse, pairing it with "Go ham".

Nasir, your momma and I are very proud of you.  Unreal.

Glentrell is next and he will be winning the best dressed award.  He's practically ready for a job interview, yet is still authentically hip-hop.  Those of us in the urban youth development context call it code-switching and he's got it down.

G6 is somewhat entitled, demanding to be driven to the store, but any sense of disdain I have is immediately wiped away by the next shot revealing Frizzy Free sitting a top a basketball goal and making me think of some late 90s rap video from TRL that I still can't put my finger on (Help me out in the comments if you know what I'm thinking of).

Frizz (as I call him) offers us a nice change of pace as his verse is a little more smooth and chill in it's delivery.

But Frizzy Free is just the opening act to the Main Event.

The Main Event is Ben Ten.

Ben Ten: American Hero.  I am not open to any other opinions on this questions.

Here are the things to take note of:

  1. Ben Ten is completely incomprehensible until you look up the lyrics, but now that I have I clearly and perfectly understand every word he says.
  2. If you thought G6 was a little too forward in his demand, just wait for Ben Ten.  My only conclusion is that Takis must contain some sort of addictive additive that is legal only in Mexico (where they are manufactured) and that Border Control hasn't figured it out yet.  No regulated snack food could possibly elicit such strong responses.
  3. If you watch carefully, AT NO POINT do Ben Ten's lips match up to the words of the song, which leads me to the conclusion that in the editing room the video producers just said, "I have no idea what he's saying, let's just piece together twenty shots where his lips are moving."
  4. Finally, if you watch Ben Ten's verse and only listen to the background noise, you hear that Ben Ten's own voice has been layered underneath the verse shouting exaggerated echoes of his own lines.  And it is amazing.
Our last performer is Jasiona, who many have declared to be the most talented and while I definitely appreciate her skills and especially her use of the line "cuz you know I got them manners" I just can't call her the best, because for the final hook, they bring back my main man Nasir to remind me of what's up.  And he puts this little extra bit of emphasis on the word "enough" that makes me punch the air every time I hear it.

That's my man.

Now you naturally should be wondering two things at the end of this.
  • Where can I buy this fantastic work of art?
  • Why does Marc know all these kid's names?
Luckily, both answers come from the same place and here's the link:

Go buy it!  It's only a dollar.

Finally, finally, as someone who runs an after school program for the same age of kids in a very similar neighborhood, I honestly can say this video has inspired and encouraged me.  While, I am not very excited about the rap talent level of our current group of kids (I think only 4 have any real hip hop potential), I am actually excited about the future of our own kids and providing them with creative outlets that are tied to other positive factors.  For example, the kids in this video have to earn their recording studio time through good grades and obviously the process of creating a song all the way from lyrics to video is flush with character and educational lessons.  I am genuinely excited for our own future with 2nd Mile.

Excuse, I've got some Takis to go eat.



Jeramy said...

Young people being encouraged and enabled to pursue their passions and utilize their skills and abilities in a productive and meaningful way. Simply amazing. This is my new favorite song!