Hive Five: Comedy Rap’s Greatest Hits

Rodney Dangerfield performs in Chicago, July 1980. Photo: Paul Natkin/WireImage

The actor Donald Glover usually fulfills his comedic kicks by playing the role of Troy Barnes on the TV show Community. In the past, he’s also undertaken writing duties for The Daily Show and 30 Rock. Sometimes though, he craves a further outlet and changes into his Childish Gambino rap persona, whose debut album Camp arrives this week. While not a completely farcical endeavor, Glover’s Gambino is fond of spitting deliberately over-the-top boasts like, “Shout out to Gambino girls — my dick is in the building!” For the most part, Glover’s attempt is one of a serious nature, though that doesn’t mean he couldn’t dip into comedy rap somewhere in the near future and should he go down that risky path, here’s five prior practitioners of hip-hop hilarity that could provide some, er, guidance.

5. Shawn Brown, “Rappin’ Duke”

Referenced in rhyme on the Notorious B.I.G.‘s uplifting “Juicy,” the Rappin’ Duke persona was Shawn Brown’s attempt to clown hip-hop by pretending that a John Wayne cowboy type was some sort of pioneering hip-hop figure back in 1984. While claiming to be cooling down by a Santa Barbara ranch, the Duke spits boasts like, “Now Kurtis Blow, Run-DMC/ You haven’t heard a rap ’til you’ve heard it from me/ I’m the baddest rapper in history/ And they’ll be no more after me.” Then comes the infernal catch phrase, “Dah-ha, dah-ha!” Dance note: The video also includes moonwalking in cowboy boots. [Watch here.]

4. Rodney Dangerfield, “Rappin’ Rodney”

Come 1983, comedian Rodney Dangerfield decided that it would be a really fantastic idea to flip his catch-phrase — “No respect! No respect at all!” — into a full-on, dance-floor-friendly rap song. The end product involves Dangerfield regurgitating jokes — “I called suicide prevention — they put me on hold!” — while a couple of female singers chant, “No respect! No respect!” Other absolutely hilarious things Rappin’ Rodney self-deprecates about: Having Triple A tow him away instead of his car, losing his “place” during sex and a doctor passing him a gun when he tells him he wants to stop getting old. (Laughter, at this point, is optional.) [Watch here.]

3. MC Mitchski, “Goya”

Yup, it’s an ode to the budget line of food products found in all the ropiest low-level supermarkets! Billing himself as “The Rappin’ Comedian,” MC Mitchski gained some small notoriety with his song “Brooklyn Blew Up The Bridge,” which was an add-on to the Bridge Wars between Marley Marl’s Queens-centered Juice Crew and KRS-One’s Bronx-based Boogie Down Productions. But it’s “Goya” that best enhances the comedy rap cannon, being a riff on Just-Ice’s legendary ladies rap “Latoya.” If anyone from Goya’s corporate HQ is reading: The song is very complimentary about your beans and rice, with Michelle, Mitchski’s leading Puerto Rican girl, imploring, “They’re good for ya, they’re good for ya/ What she’s talking about? I said she’s talking ’bout Goya!” [Watch here.]

2. Chevy Chase, “Rapper’s Plight”

MC Chevy Chase just might be the godfather of the rapping comedy movement, spoofing hip-hop’s break-through track, “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang, as early as 1980. Grandmaster Chase’s opening salvo mimics the original song’s introductory babble, as he raps, “Well hip, hip, a diggedy dog/ And a bippety, boppety boo.” Then he spits the phrase “skip to my lou” and boasts about possessing “uppers, downers, LSD.” As the song unfolds, Chase invokes fresh accents to play other rappers — all of whom largely end the song with their possessions mysteriously stolen (including Jordache jeans and an alligator purse). [Watch here.]

1. Wayne & Charlie the Rapping Dummy, “Check It Out”

The rapping dummy in question was literally a hip-hop ventriloquist’s doll, named Charlie Chocks. Along with his puppet-master, the three-foot tall wooden doll would open up rap shows in NYC during the old school era; thyt even scored a single deal with Sugarhill Records in 1981, releasing the song “Rapping Dummy.” Based around the duo going back and forth over a funky live groove, Charlie implores, “Now these are the things that make you shout — everyone say check it out!” It’s a feat that doesn’t quite exhilarate the listener on record, but it must have been quite the spectacle when kicked live. [Watch a news piece on the Rapping Dummy here.]

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