“Weekly ‘Weird Al’ Wednesday” where Ben highlights selections from the ‘Weird Al’ canon, each week, on Wednesday. Read last weeks and more here.

'Weird Al's' musical career is is a reflection of the evolution of popular American music as a whole. From 80s new Wave to Heavy Metal and many musical fads over the last 30-odd years, Al has dabbled in them all.

Al was quick to recognize the rise of Rap music, from a niche to a national phenomenon. He's been recording Rap songs since 1988. Something that he did different than many comedy performers in the 80s and 90s (and today too, to some extent) is that he didn't make fun of Rap music. That's always been a key to Al's work, he is not being mean. The comedy is not found in tearing down. It's found in lampooning self importance and pop culture. He recorded Rap song because it's part of the pop music of the day. It's never old man 'look at these kids today aren't they dumb' humor.

And the thing is, he's a pretty good rapper. Here's what Chamillionaire had to say about Al's "White and Nerdy."

“He’s spittin’ just like Krayzie Bone on the second verse…It’s actually very funny if you listen to what he’s saying. The way Krayzie is harmonizing, he does the same thing. It surprised me. I didn’t know he could rap like that.”

The first time Al did a Rap song was on the 1998 album Even Worse when he did a Beastie Boys style parody called "Twister." He reinterprets the game's old TV commercial's as a License to Ill style song.

Al continued to parody Rap songs as Rap grew in popularity. He reimanianged the Gilligan's Island theme to the tune of Tone Loc's "Wild Thing." On 1992's Off the Deep End he run up and down TV dial with a parody of "Can't Touch This" and "Rico Suave" by Gerardo. In 1996 Al took it to another level with "Amish Paradise," his "Gangsta's Paradise" parody.

By the late 90s and into the new century Rap music was pop music and Al's work reflects that. One of my favorite Rapping Al songs, and an all time fave, is "All About the Pentiums" from 1999's Running with Scissors. It's a take-off of Puff Daddy's "It's all About the Benjamins." Instead of a song about money and power, Al makes it into a tale of nerd swagger. It's always cool to brag about the speed of your processor and the size of your hard-drive. Plus it has one of the greatest Rap insults ever: "Play me online? Well, you know that I'll beat you, If I ever meet you I'll control-alt-delete you!"

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