References in The Lonely Island’s Incredibad

So perhaps you bought Incredibad, the comedy record from The Lonely Island, because you liked their stuff on Saturday Night Live, and now you’re left wondering why the album includes some really terrible interludes, and what the joke behind “Like a Boss” is. Luckily you’ve got a white thirtysomething physicist to explain the references to you.

The cover for The Lonely Island album Incredibad.The record is fundamentally a hip hop album. Its nineteen tracks are produced by twelve different people, and nearly half of the tracks include guest stars. Its first track, “Who Said We’re Wack?”, is aimed at the group’s detractors, a mainstay of rap albums (like 50 Cent’s “What Up Gangsta?” from Get Rich or Die Trying). It even has a handful of interludes, the kinds of skits that Prince Paul and De La Soul first made popular on the 1989 album 3 Feet High and Rising. The only thing missing is a dis track.

A number of the album’s songs ape specific hip hop genres for comedic effect, like Peter Schickle’s parodying of classical music or “Weird Al” Yankovic’s style parodies of artists such as Devo and Frank Zappa. “I’m on a Boat” draws on the style of crunk rap performed by Lil’ Jon and others, and is reminiscent of newer crunk-influenced bands like 3OH!3. “Dick in a Box” echoes the sexually-charged songs of early ’90s contemporary R&B groups such as Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up”. Some tracks draw more directly from one specific song: “Like a Boss” takes the Slim Thug song of the same name and foregrounds the corporate metaphor, “Incredibad” mimics the content and style of the Beastie Boys’ “Paul Revere” to explain how three white guys got together to become rappers, and “Natalie’s Rap” is structured like Eazy-E’s “No More ?’s” while incorporating elements from other late ’80s L.A. gangsta rap groups like Eazy-E’s own N.W.A.

In several cases the guest stars and producers are part of the joke. “I’m on a Boat” plays its crunk influences, but T-Pain’s heavily Auto-Tuned crooning of “on a boat, on a boat” plays against the style. “Santana DVX”, which parodies rappers’ obsession with champaigne by extolling the virtues of Carlos Santana’s brand of champaign, is produced by J-Zone, one of the more comedic rap producers, and the guest, E-40, sang his own ode to an unusual drink for a rapper in “Carlos Rossi”. “Ras Trent”, which details the adventures of a white college student trustafarian’s delusions, was produced by Sly and Robbie, who are among the best reggae producers.

There. Aren’t you glad I was here to dissect that frog?

3 thoughts on “References in The Lonely Island’s Incredibad

  1. Steven, I don’t know what to do. I should be scared and crawl away from this page thinging that you were a rap producer in a past life. But I am, instead, heavily impressed by your command and knowledge of obscure hip hop references.
    Damn you.

  2. I was hoping you’d have some remarks on the Julian Casablancas track. I know Casablancas’ not hip hop but it does hail back to the times when hip hop artists collaborated with rockers, a la Walk This Way with Run DMC and Aerosmith.

    but better I think. No, I know it’s better.

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