a bad rap

Some years ago, at an outdoor festival on Randall Island in New York City, I had the misfortune of observing Bo Diddley’s attempt at rapping. Now, as the ads demonstrated, Bo Diddley was capable of a great many things. Hiphop, it turns out, was not one of them. This, despite the fact that Bo’s classic 1955 recording I’m a Man is pretty much a rap number.

Well, yesterday, a rather fun piece in the Huffington Post began to make the rounds on the Facebook and elsewhere. “Worst Rap Songs by White Non-Rappers,” it’s called, a supposedly ‘definitive’ list from Ottawa expat Joshua Ostroff in response to recent rapping missteps by Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. (Surprising, really, that media are not willing to take those two artists seriously as rappers.) Said list, we’re told, was assembled via the sort of intrepid research that is a few minutes’ worth of combing YouTube. And yes, there are some pretty awful examples of rap among its 30 entries.

There is also, for some reason, Blondie’s sublime Rapture, a song that boldly introduced hiphop to not only bad future white rappers, but also to good ones. And if Debbie Harry is not exactly Chuck D, her rap is no less memorable for it. Silly, but memorable. Besides, you have to keep in mind: she’s white. At least, I’m assuming that is how she wound up on the list. The worst raps by white non-rappers? Why not simply the worst raps by non-rappers? Besides, why include Marky Mark, who was very much a rapper, as well as Vanity 6, who was (and is) not entirely white? And Rappin’ Rodney? A little respect, please. I mean, is his record worse than Alexei Sayle‘s rap single? Wait, yes it is. Much worse. Still…

I did learn something from the list. Evidently, Joey Lawrence raps on that album I have had in my collection for years. (It was a gift.) So there’s that.

This morning, I returned to the HuffPost site in anticipation of the followup list of the worst singing performances by black rappers — Stand up, Biz Markie! — but found no such slideshow. Evidently, this latest entry to the battle of the races was a one-off.

And so, dear reader, I submit my own brief list of bad rap records by non-rappers. All non-rappers were eligible, regardless of ethnic background. I will note, however, that I’m not about to claim that these are the worst in the category. To accurately compile such a list, I would of course have to listen to every rap recording ever made by a non-rapper. And, well, there’s a limit. Think of this, then, as an inclusive companion piece to the HuffPost, uh, post.

BO DIDDLEY

“Put your hands up over your head / and do like Bo Diddley said.” I did warn you.

COUNT FLOYD

Hard to know where to begin with the SCTV character’s rappin’ reggae Christmas single. A festive tale of an encounter between vampires, ghouls and “scary Rastafarians (with) bad hair.” Attention HuffPost: Rap doesn’t get much whiter than this.

CHICAGO BEARS

In one of YouTube’s wiser moves, someone seems to have removed the original video for this. Here are some bears as well as some Bears.

MR. T

Rappin’ about the pain of childbirth that his mother went through in order to bless the world with her son Mr. No wonder I own this LP.

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS

The Irish punk legends pay homage to The Beastie Boys and their hometown, in the process doing each a disservice.

EDDIE MURPHY and JOE PISCOPO

I could go on, but in the name of brevity, let’s call it a day with this monstrosity, which brings a black non-rapper together with a white non-rapper. The result speaks for itself.

See, a bad rap from a non-rapper has no colour. And no shame.

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