by Joseph Sweeney | editor-in-chief
The year is 2008, and the world is on fire. Not in a literal sense, though it might as well be, as the great recession has just hit. Big companies are losing money fast. The banks are begging to be bailed out again, and other industries are trying to make the best of the situation.
Now, let’s fast forward a bit. The year is April, 2010, and 20th Century Fox has a brilliant idea: what if, figuratively not literally, they sold out their properties to the music industry to try and make back some millions of dollars that they so desperately needed. And what artist could help them turn a profit better than the one with some, or rather a, dollar sign herself, Ke$ha.
What followed was one week of Non-stop music-centric promotions. For one, everybody’s favorite Family Guy spin-off, The Cleveland Show, would feature none-other than President Rapper Kanye West himself, but we’ll get back to him eventually.
The real star of the “Fox Rocks” promotional week was the aforementioned Ke$sha, whose hit single Tik Tok would be lip-synced by The Simpsons in the season 21 episode “To surveil with love,” replacing the normal opening theme.
While this certainly isn’t the first time a big corporation has shilled themselves to the even larger music industry, it was interestingly the first time the term “Tik Tok” was used in reference to lip-syncing.
But that is not what we are here for today. Today, we appreciate the unsung heroes of the music industry, some good, some evil; some ultra-famous, and some complete unknowns.
In a nice change of pace, the next set of featured music is not downright terrible, though that doesn’t mean it’s not absurd and ridiculous. The ever-so enthusiastic DJ Charlie Sloth hosts the popular British radio show “Fire in the Booth,” dedicated to showcasing various musicians from around the world.
While he has indeed featured many household names on his program, such as Drake and Megan Thee Stallion, the most entertainment comes from his showcase of the lesser known rappers of the world, who’s eccentric attitudes only add to their memorability.
Michael Dapaah is one: a Ghanian-British comedian known for his YouTube series SWIL or Somewhere in London, who appeared with Sloth in 2017. You may remember him by a different name however, Big, or, “Roadman” Shaq.
Clips of Dapaah’s performance went viral on YouTube, particularly a demo that would later become known as “Man’s not hot,” where Dapaah raps complete nonsense over the course of the two minute run-time.
With the help of everyone’s best friend, the internet, Dapaah was able to gain enough notoriety to the point of being able to produce a fully mastered audio track and accompanying music video. Dapaah was even able to gain the attention of several late night comics, including Jimmy Fallon, and even former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, who joked about Dapaah having stolen his nickname.
Though the memes surrounding it have died out, the music video remains in the mind of many, as it has garnered over 300 million views since its release in 2017.
With all this hype surrounding him, you may think that Dapaah is the greatest unknown this simple radio show was able to catapult into the limelight, but just last year, one man, or rather one letter, would change the minds of many.
Enter Munya Chawawa, otherwise known as Unknown P. In May of 2019, Chawawa would be introduced by Sloth as the first ever British drill rapper, a sub-genre comprised of smoother beats and violent undertones, and, like Dapaah before him, would go viral thanks to YouTube, where clips of his performances would be reuploaded under the moniker “British rappers be like.”
Chawawa’s main gimmick revolves around his British heritage. With his constant references to British geography, political figures, and the mere sound of his voice, Chawawa has developed a reputation as being what Americans would think a British rapper would sound like.
Aside from his initial Fire in the Booth appearance, Chawawa has continued the Unknown P character on his personal YouTube channel, where he uploads comedic covers and original songs. One of his longest running jokes is his long time feud with fellow rapper Unknown T, due to the similar names and genres of the two musicians.
Sloth continues to showcase new artists on his show every week, and episodes can be found readily available on his official YouTube channel, though it is safe to say that none will ever top the absurd characters that are Big Shaq and Unknown P.
Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark
It is common for many of us to exaggerate aspects of our careers for internet brownie points, though one such case seems to be outside the realm of simple hyperbole. Matthew “MatPat” Patrick of “The Game Theorists” YouTube channel was once a not-so-successful Broadway actor, who, after years of unemployment in the industry, was finally tipped over the edge after a musical so bad caused him to lose faith in the industry.
Not long after our favorite web-slinging superhero made headlines for twerking in the middle of Times Square, he would star in what is to this day the most expensive production in Broadway
history, clocking in at a whopping $75 million budget, with operating costs of over a million dollars per week. While some may argue that a name as big as Spider-Man alone could recoup these costs, they’d be wrong, as this production reportedly resulted in a net loss of $60 million for its investors.
So how did this happen? Much like 2020, everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. From lead producer dying Tony Adams dying during production, to multiple Joss Whedon style rewrites after the director, Julie Taymor, was fired, many many delays, an organized review bomb from many prominent Broadway critics, and even Spider-Man stunt double Christopher Tierney plummeting 30 feet during a live performance, all because of an unsecured harness and poor planning.
What may be hard to believe, however, is that the music for this play is actually quite good. With lyrics and instrumentals by everyone’s favorite malware distributors, U2’s Bono and The Edge, the music stands out as some of the best remaining pieces of this disaster of a show. Still, this play is worth a mention here for how absurdly unplanned it was from the get-go.
Much like R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet, there is nothing that can be said about Kanye West’s Bound 2 without spoiling the hilarity that lies within. If Trapped in the Closet was the worst album of all time, Bound 2 is the worst single of all time, and most of that is due to its music video. On the other hand, however, nobody seems to have paid attention to the backstory of this song, and what makes it actually somewhat genius.
The song, released in 2013, is a mix of rap and soul music, starring soul singer Charlie Wilson for what is admittedly a really beautiful chorus, though he remains uncredited. Bound 2 is obviously meant to serve as a spiritual successor to another song, though not one by Kanye West, as the original Bound, which is sampled here, was sung by a forgotten soul group known as the “Ponderosa Twins Plus One.” A member of this group, Ricky Spicer, would later sue West for using the song’s contents without asking for permission; though this case was later settled, the details have not yet been disclosed to the public.
As previously stated, something that isn’t brought up often is that the song’s hidden genius. Though it is understandable for one to think of the song as an extension of West’s ego and materialism, you may be shocked to hear it was actually meant to be the opposite of that. In an interview with Business Insider, West stated that he saw the video as being a parody of what can only be considered redneck culture, with the only difference being that a black man was the one singing it.
Unfortunately, the general public has yet to see the video that way, as some are blinded by West’s massive ego to the point where they cannot bother to Google the story behind this monstrosity of a music video, and others, specifically, West’s audience of 14-year-old Redditors, still miss the point by thinking of the song and its music video as meaningful, when it was certainly not meant to be.
The legacy of Bound 2 lives on, however, not only through its almost 1:1 like to dislike ratio, but through the many parodies inspired by it. Not only did a fictionalized version of West reappear on Comedy Central’s South Park, a spoof was also made by actors Seth Rogan and James Franco, who created a shot-for-shot remake, entitled “Bound 3,” while on the set of their almost Word War triggering movie, The Interview.
My condolences go out to West at this time, however, having just broken the news of his and Kim Kardashian’s impending divorce. For many people though, this video may end up being one of the few highlights of their almost seven year long relationship.