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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

VH1: Behind the Music - Infamous Moments in Rap

Highlights from the "lost" episode of VH1: Behind the Music.

[Self consciously hip music, accompanied by blurred shots of drugged out hippie musicians arguing, a well-dressed rock producer snorting coke, and Ozzy Osbourne riding a llama through a Whole Foods outlet]

NARRATOR: Tonight on VH1: Behind the Music: The genre of hip hop and particularly rap has taken the music industry by storm, evolving into a multi-billion dollar industry, and catapulting dozens of artists to stardom, regardless of their complete inability to sing, play an instrument, or figure out how to download their own songs from iTunes.

Yet, rap music has not been without its scandals and tragedies. No, not the violence, shootings, or sex scandals. Face it, that's the kind of news that music publicists would kill for and have repeatedly. No, tonight we look at the really sordid moments when rap failed to live up to its raw, naked idealism. Tonight, the most infamous moments in the history of rap music itself.

[Title: VH1: Behind the Music - The Most Infamous Moments in Rap Music (No, Seriously Man, These Are Bad)]

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NARRATOR: The year was 1968 and rap hadn't even been invented yet. Somehow though, a young Jewish-Canadian actor managed to synthesize traditional African storytelling techniques, rhythmically dramatic poetry readings, and funky jazz. His name was William Shatner.

[Archival footage of Gene Roddenberry]

GENE RODDENBERRY: No one understood Bill Shatner's The Transfigured Man. Music critics didn't understand it. Musicians didn't grasp its significance. Hell, I thought he was smoking dope when I first heard it. Later on though, when the rap scene became prominent, we all understood.

[Rapper LL Cool J, sitting in a jacuzzi, wearing a mink fedora, sipping a large McDonald's drink]

LL COOL J: Shatner was fly, man. If his rendition of Mr. Tambourine Man had a sweet hip-hop groove behind it, it would go platinum today.

NARRATOR: Tragically though, it didn't, and scandalously, to this day, people think rap was invented by inner-city DJs.

**********

NARRATOR: For awhile it seemed like anyone could put out a rap album, and many did.

[Christopher Walken in a studio in front of a mic. He is wearing a bright white sweatsuit, a backwards baseball cap, a variety of chains, and a large novelty watch on a necklace. Several of his teeth are gold-capped.]

CHRISTOPHER WALKEN: My name is Chris and I have to say, that I find it rather hard to talk this way.

[Betty White in a studio in front of a mic. She is wearing the same exact outfit that Walken wore, including the gold teeth.]

BETTY WHITE: I might be old and wrinkly but this granny ain't no sucker. I'm high on Geritol and I'm a mean mutha [expletive deleted].

[Julia Child in a studio in front of a mic. She is wearing a gold-plated chef's hat and an apron with the words "Saucy Wench" spelled out in rhinestones on the front.]

NARRATOR: Etc., etc.

**********

NARRATOR: In 2005, the White House turned to rap in an effort to answer criticism about the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Only a few cuts from the planned album survive. One was from a number titled "Sorry 'bout That Big Easy."

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH - I never meant for floodin' or for the city to crumble.
Baby, you know this was a bipartisan bumble.
If I wanted New Orleans gone, if I had wanted it to pass,
I'd have sent a B2 bomber and just JDAM-med your ass.

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: JDAM-med your ass!

GRANDMASTER FLASH: A lot of people have asked how they got those terrific low beats on the track, but it was really just Cheney pounding his chest to restart his heart between doing vocal beats. It turns out, people loved the sound so much, it's been sampled on over 250 rap tunes. Cheney didn't run for office because he's getting so much work as a hip-hop producer these days. He has to work under a pseudonym though: DJ Racy Pacemaker.

NARRATOR: President Barack Obama also toyed with the idea of using rap to communicate with the masses.

ICE CUBE: President Obama tried hard but it didn't work out. He kept wanting to go into his familiar speech rhythm, but the teleprompter couldn't keep up with the beat. Eventually it overheated, caught fire, and gave out. The poor guy got so confused, he broke out into an off-key version of Tiny Bubbles.

**********

NARRATOR: Many actors and actresses tried their hand at rap music, but no one ever tapped into the scene with an authentic sound, with one exception: Meryl Streep.

DJ JAZZY JEFF: After her usual rigorous research and vocal training, she did such a good job her album sold 2,000,000 copies. Everyone thought it was a Snoop Dogg release.

NARRATOR: Even Snoop was convinced.

SNOOP DOGG: Damn man, I musta been stoned cold outta my mind when I did that record, cause I don't remember it at all.

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