Comedy hip hop
|Comedy hip hop|
|Cultural origins||Early-1990s to mid-2000s, |
U.S. hip hop culture
|Fear of a Black Hat|
Other forms of comedy rap, such as meme rap and ironic rap, both known for their aggressive and dark comedic approach achieved some mainstream success during the 2000s and 2010s. Many examples of comedy hip hop are parodic.
Satirical hip hop may be a parody of the whole genre of hip hop and/or a form of critical music that uses hip-hop as a vehicle for satirical messages. Musical influence and scope vary, ranging from gangsta rap, mumble rap, trap rap to alternative hip hop. The more humorous satirical sub-genre meme rap was created with the intent of becoming viral. In the context of mumble rap, a satirical hip hop song might involve lo-fi production, use of personas/pseudonyms (e.g. George "Joji" Miller), simplistic music videos, lazy rhymes, and intentionally stereotypical lyrics/topics.
Satire and hip-hop have been intertwined since the Black Arts Movement period; hip-hop satire bridges popular culture forms like rap and experimental fictional forms while "exploring the complexities of Black American identity." Hip-hop culture has also been criticized in other mediums, most notably in early-1990s and 2000s satirical film and television publications Fear of a Black Hat (1993)—a mockumentary focusing on hip-hop posturing, Boondocks episode "The Story of Gangstalicious" (2005), and Spike Lee's Bamboozled (2000).
Before the darker themes that are characteristic of the Gangsta rap of the 1990s, comedy hip hop, with its lighter and more humorous style, came to prominence in the 1980s, carried by popular acts such as the Beastie Boys.
In the post-2000s digital era, satirical rap, especially Black American satirical rap, retains a marginal status because commenting on Black cultural representations or moving away from performing Black stereotypes that paradoxically cemented hip-hop's global status risks the possibility of an artist's commercial failure. Some who escaped this fate include the early-1990s alternative hip hop trio and progenitor of modern satirical rap De La Soul (e.g. their 1989 landmark album 3 Feet High and Rising, their record industry-critical 1991 album De La Soul Is Dead, and 2012 song "Must B the Music") and Childish Gambino in the 2010s.
History and examples
Run-DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" from 1987 is comedy rap, and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince were solidly in the comedy rap genre with the 1988 song "Parents Just Don't Understand." N.W.A and Ice Cube's early albums were not as comedic and lighthearted as The Fresh Prince but did incorporate humor.
"Weird Al" Yankovic has made parody tracks of popular hip hop songs since the 1990s. Another early example is with Southern California-based rapper Afroman, with his two well-known tracks "Crazy Rap" and "Because I Got High," both released in 2001, featuring comedic lyrics.
The Lonely Island is an American comedy trio who released their first comedic rap song (Ka-Blamo!) in 2001. They rose to fame after joining Saturday Night Live in 2005 where they made many satirical songs that they described as "fake rap". One of their first videos to air "Lazy Sunday" became an internet sensation and was the first video to go viral on YouTube, garnering over 5 million views (before NBC took it down). The Lonely Island's brand is to make songs that sound macho but actually parody masculinity. They have collaborated with numerous mainstream artists including Justin Timberlake, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, and more. Their YouTube channel has exceeded 1 billion views, they are Grammy-nominated, their albums have charted on the Billboard Hot 100, and they've won an Emmy award for their song "Dick in a Box". Some of their most popular songs are "I'm on a Boat", "I Just Had Sex", "Jizz in My Pants", etc. Since leaving SNL, they have continued to make satirical albums and are currently still active.
In 2008, Odd Future members Tyler, the Creator and Jasper Dolphin released the sole EP under their short-lived comedy group name "I Smell Panties." The duo utilized elements of gangsta rap and Southern hip hop in a comedic way when performing as I Smell Panties. Tyler then released a track in 2011 called "Come Through Looking Clean", a joke song performed under a character named "Young Nigga."  It's a parody of the "Bling Era" of mainstream hip hop that was popular during the 2000s and draws heavy inspiration from the music of Lil B. The Young Nigga character would later be re-used on various skits in the 2012 Adult Swim program Loiter Squad, which was created by and starred members of Odd Future. In February 2016, Tyler revealed that his 2011 breakout viral single "Yonkers" was made as a joke song attempting to parody the style of New York rappers (hence the title being named after the city of the same name).
Michigan-based Internet celebrity and rapper Rucka Rucka Ali became famous in the late 2000s/early 2010s for creating pop song parodies (including parodies of popular hip hop songs) containing lyrics for shock value. He often includespolitically incorrect and juvenile references to ethnic stereotypes, topical subject matter, and dark humor. His music also tends to make use of comedic portrayals of celebrities and his several alter egos espouses stereotypical qualities of specific ethnic groups. Some critics have labeled Ali as a racist as a reaction to his songs, although his humor seems to be heavily influenced by mainstream comedy television shows, such as South Park, Family Guy, and Chappelle's Show, and has jokingly defended his brand of humor by claiming that he's affirming the stereotypes he's constantly referencing in his songs as factual. His videos and YouTube channels are frequently removed (since he started creating music videos he has had 17 YouTube channels deleted for terms of service violations), but are reuploaded by his fans.
In the mid-2010s, Ryan Harryman, a San Jose State University student and member of the school's water polo club team, became a viral sensation on the Internet under the stage name "3PAC." He was known for his self-produced music videos, bombastic and aggressive comedic rap songs, and diss tracks targeting mainstream rappers like Eminem and 2 Chainz, as well as YouTube gaming channel PewDiePie. 3PAC made a guest appearance on The New CALassic, a comedy hip hop mixtape performed by Internet music critic Anthony Fantano (under his "Cal Chuchesta" alter ego) that was released in August 2015. Harryman died at the age of 24 in October 2015 after suffering severe brain damage during a water polo practice.
In 2017, YouTube personality Filthy Frank released a music project titled Pink Season, the second album performed under the name "Pink Guy", with some songs poking fun at hip hop music as a whole, among other things. The track "Hand On My Gat" for example, features a character named PolitikZ that acts as a caricature for hardcore underground rappers; that character's previous appearance was on the Filthy Frank video "BAD INTERNET RAPPERS" (uploaded in November 2014), where he performed a song called "Real Hip Hop" that directly parodied the stereotypical anti-mainstream and politically charged attitudes of underground rappers. The Pink Season album reached number one on the iTunes charts and peaked at 70 on the Billboard 200.
In April 2018, Internet personality and music critic Anthony Fantano began releasing more satirical hip hop tracks under his Cal Chuchesta alter ego, releasing the tracks "Coin Star" and "Don't Talk To Me."
German hip hop, in particular, is known for its use of humorous, satirical and ironic lyrics which can mock the heaviness and seriousness of US gangster rap. This tradition can be traced back to Austrian artist Falco who is considered a pioneer of German language rap and hip hop and known for satire and humor. Other famous examples include Die Fantastischen Vier, Fettes Brot, Beginner, Fünf Sterne Deluxe and Seeed.
- allmusic. "about comedy rap". Retrieved 30 December 2012.
- Volume 4 (O-T) of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature (2005). Ed. Hans Ostrom and J. David Macey. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishers, p. 1436, ISBN 9780313329760.
- Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Cornel West (2011). The Future of the Race, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, p. 42, ISBN 9780307764942.
- Lewis MK, Marshall I (2011). ''LGBT Psychology: Research Perspectives and People of African Descent, Springer Science & Business Media, p. 25, ISBN 9781461405658.
- Maus DC, Donahue JJ (2014). Post-Soul Satire: Black Identity after Civil Rights, Univ. Press of Mississippi, pp. 39 and 51-54, ISBN 9781617039980. Quote: "[H]ip-hop satire offers a withering but no less humorous assessment of commercial hip-hop's fetishization of racial authenticity. Its argument will orbit around three acts—two emceees, Mighty Casey and Childish Gambino, and a group, Little Brother—that have contributed to the subgenre's rise in the new millennium."
- , Bandcamp link for the "I Smell Panties" EP.
- , Rap-Up.
- "Tyler, the Creator: "Yonkers" Was Made As a Joke". Pitchfork. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
- "San Jose State student dies several days after water polo practice at campus pool". The Mercury News. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
- , YouTube: 3PACTVHD.
- , Know Your Meme page on 3PAC.
- , Genius: "PewDiePie is a Child Rapist" lyrics.
- "3Pac: To Live and Die on 4chan". Spin Magazine. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
- , Genius: "Hand On My Gat" lyrics.
- , YouTube: "BAD INTERNET RAPPERS" by TVFilthyFrank.
- , Genius: "REAL HIP HOP" lyrics.
- , YouTube: "PolitikZ - 'REAL HIP HOP'" by TooDamnFilthy.
- "Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 2 February 2017.