A Look Back At 6 of The Most… Unusual… Videos In Rap
A memorable video isn’t necessarily a great video. Nor is it necessarily big-budget (there are Gucci Mane videos from the Smacktube era more worthy of canonization than anything in the highly choreographed Macklemore filmography). So, without further ado, here are some of rap’s strangest videos, both good and bad.
dc Talk, “I Luv Rap Music”
“I Luv Rap Music” begins with a determined speech about rap unfairly getting a bad name. What follows is dc Talk giving rap a bad name. The video for “I Luv Rap Music” is akin that of PM Dawn’s “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss,” were the latter stripped of rhythm or soulfulness.
Roland Rat Superstar, “Rat Rapping”
Roland Rat is an English-accented hand puppet rat, and a star on BBC and TV-am in the mid-1980’s.
Like seemingly every other English-accented puppet rat, he had a hit single with 1983’s “Rat Rapping.” In the “Rat Rapping” video, Roland has some truly execrable rhymes, and “dances” (he’s a hand puppet, after all) in front of a fuzzy, pulsating background with SCRATCH in graffiti. Appropriately, the video version of “Rat Rapping” available on YouTube has the watermark of VH1’s “100 Worst Videos Day.” It came in at an underrated 70.
World Class Wreckin’ Cru, “Surgery”
Straight Outta Compton attempted to portray Dr. Dre’s involvement with the World Class Wreckin’ Cru as begrudging and short-lived, a staggering falsehood, considering he was in the group for three years. “Surgery” is Dr. Dre before he put some bass in his rapping voice, wearing a red sequined suit and referring to himself as “a gorgeous hunk of a man.” Not that that’s inherently that weird—just when you consider he went on to found “the world’s most dangerous group.”
To Dr. Dre’s credit, World Class Wreckin’ Cru are an essential part of Los Angeles’ rap history, and “Surgery” is really catchy–even if he’ll deny it ever happened.
Jimmy Z ft. Dr. Dre, “Funky Flute”
When Ruthless Records was at its peak, the label’s roster became overloaded with artists meant to cement the company as a player in pop music. Jimmy Z was one of them. A white, longhaired multi-instrumentalist, Jimmy Z didn’t really fit in at the rap-centric label, but “Funky Flute” is a magical moment in rap history. “Funky Flute” is almost certainly the most flute-centric Dr. Dre video.
Nujabes ft. Shing02, “Luv (sic) pt. 2”
Amongst backpack-burdened rap fans, the late Nujabes was a demi-God. Musically, “Luv (sic) pt. 2,” featuring Japanese-American rapper Shing02, is well produced if perhaps overly woke. Visually, it’s absurdist and mesmerizing. Director Sou Ootsuki captured a wide array of people doing what can only be approximately described as acting ridiculously. They stumble, flap, and contort in slow motion toward the camera, faces twisted, scattering pigeons, bemusing onlookers.
JayJay, “I Tried To”
The conceit of “I Tried To” is that it’s a love letter from JayJay to Natalie, presumably the very patient lass in the high-tops. A common strategy in rap video production is to rapidly cut from one scene or set to the next, because rappers often lack the dynamism for long shots. JayJay (or his director) does no such thing–a significant portion of “I Tried To” is JayJay rapping in Natalie’s face for 30 seconds at a time.