As much as I love hip-hop, it's a genre that is ripe for sending up. What with hip-hop artists' love of posing and posturing, and the genre's obsession with the macho and materialistic. And white people getting into hip-hop culture is always good fodder for satirising (given that the genre itself stems from a quintessentially African-American aesthetic of cool). Examples include numerous songs from Saturday Night Live, most notably Dick in a Box and I Just Had Sex.
But because so many artists in the genre take themselves so seriously even when being frankly ridiculous, it's sometimes hard to know whether they are playing it straight or being knowingly silly. In addition, satirical performers can sometimes be so good at their work that a lot of viewers won't get that it is a joke.
With that in mind, check out these two clips. Musical merits aside, both artists seem not only extremely lame but serious about what they are doing, at least on the surface. Yet one of them is tongue in cheek and the other is apparently deadly serious. It probably won't be too hard for you to guess which is which, but have a look.
The first one is Young Con Anthem by The Young Cons.
The second is Go Grab My Belt by Slick Mahony.
Did you pick it?
Upon first viewing The Young Cons' work, my reaction was that it was an SNL-style joke clip, based on a fairly hilarious comedic concept: a couple of lame white guys in suits rapping about their conservative values and trying to make it cool to be a Republican. I mean, c'mon... from the moment that guy said "Yo, one time..." you thought it was a joke, right?
But it soon became clear that this is not comedy; these actually are a couple of lame white guys in suits rapping about their conservative values and trying to make it cool to be a Republican.
I'm not a conservative. But if I was, The Young Cons would make me seriously reconsider my outlook on life. Let's all just accept that the Left has a lock on all the coolest musicians and actors. Right-wingers rarely pull off coolness very well, it's like a suit that just doesn't really fit. And Republican rappers? Nah. As Ice Cube declared in his 1991 track A Bird in the Hand, "Blacks are too f*ckin' broke to be Republican."
Slick Mahony, on the other hand, is a joke, although as joke tunes go, it's a totally mad one. His dance moves are to die for. He's one of the crew from Turquoise Jeep Records, responsible for one of my favourite songs from last year, Cavities by Flynt Flossy with Pretty Raheem and Whatchamacallit. All their songs are tongue-in-cheek, but just real enough to cause a little confusion among those urban music fans who aren't so good with irony.
To my mind, if you are the kind of artist who inspires people to ask, "Is this for real, or a joke?" it's kinda lame to actually be for real.