PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

The Lonely Island: The Wack Album

Through comedy, the members of the Lonely Island provide another direct criticism on American subcultures and flaunt their knowledge and reverence of rap and hip hop with The Wack Album.


The Lonely Island
Label: Republic
Title: The Wack Album
US Release Date: 2013-06-11
UK Release Date: Import
Label website
Artist website

There are only two ways to go with this review: The high road or the low road. In a small effort to not reiterate many quotable trash-talkin' lyrics, frequent profane comedic diamonds and straight-up gangsta flow (thus ruining the surprise for those who haven't saved the Lonely Island's YouTube playlist at some point in the Windows 7 era), I'll advise those further interested to experience The Wack Album for one's self. I cannot foresee finishing this review without pilfering at least one or two lines while we're along for the ride, but don't say you haven't been warned. It's dirty as hell, and you're gonna laugh your ass off.

I knew what to expect when I received this assignment. Saturday Night Live has been a lifelong tradition of sorts, and I've followed just about every lineup since the original "Not Ready for Prime-Time Players". One thing that has remained constant throughout the history of SNL has been the incorporation of music into the comedy, from the Blues Brothers all the way to the Lonely Island. Adam Sandler's "At a Medium Pace", Eddie Murphy's "Boogie in Your Butt", and Steve Martin's "King Tut" all set the bar high for future SNL cast members' comedy record attempts, and many have failed along the way because we have these aforementioned crown jewels of audio comedy to compare everything else to. Luckily, a couple of notches to the funny bar have been added with The Wack Album, although it's definitely a rap experience. In fact, it's some of the dirtiest rap out there. SO dirty, even Blowfly would blush... a little. That could end up being a double-edged sword for the Lonely Island, alienating the comedy fans who despise hard rap music. But millions upon millions of fans can't be wrong. Just remember, it's shtick. It is what it is. Still, when you're hit with (and I paraphrase) "The Lonely Island were beaten to death with their own 'junk' outside a strip club" within the first 60 seconds of The Wack Album, you've gotta give it a genuine laugh. Just like you did when you first heard Adam Sandler's "At a Medium Pace". Even if SNL Digital Shorts and toilet humor in general are your forte, honestly... could you see that one coming?

There's a trend currently making it's way through pop culture, thanks to the Lonely Island, the SNL Digital Short and YouTube. Comedy in rap through social media has made international superstars out of Macklemore and Lewis with the viral explosion of "Thrift Shop", kept us for being productive corporate busybodies with the YouTube sensation "I'm on a Bike", and made Andy Samberg a hipster icon. All of the above mentioned are making these poignant critiques and delivering them through comedy, so the listening audience gets the best information absorption rate possible. Better than the nightly news. Better than even TMZ. Take note, NPR. No one listening to The Wack Album is yawning, and they're learning a lot.

Macklemore's observation on the new generation's discovery of all things second-hand is funny, but Samberg is the master of comedic cultural criticism, dropping honest views of social trends in the modern world innocuously amidst fart jokes and gangsta beats. "I got that diaper money" says so much about a few of today's urbanite subcultures within those five little words. In the 'never gets old' word substitution department, the Lonely Island swaps the word 'hug' for whichever dirty verb pops into view first, but throws a barbed quip towards the soccer mom with "I wanna hug your mama in a Subaru hatchback." I mean, damn. "You've Got the Look" is song about ogling a girl with one breast hanging out of her top, but twisting it into a cultural statement, asking the question "Is it a mistake, or is it fashion?" What's your take on that, Janet? That's brilliance within itself, then the vocal refrain from Hugh "Wolverine" Jackman comes in, and the realization you've just been one-upped unabashedly intensifies the guffaws and snorts. It doesn't help the situation when Kristen Wiig gives answer to the call with "one ball out". That's just downright devastating to the undies.

SNL favorites "YOLO" with Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar and "3 Way" with Justin Timberlake are here, and having those cuts in high quality without the laugh track makes a great argument for shelling out the Lincolns and Washingtons on Wack, but Wack is more than just critical commentary, raunchy comedy, and greatest hits. It's also a loving tribute to hip hop, giving nods to some of the cherished moments in the genre. "Spell It Out" shamelessly channels K-Solo's "Spellbound", "We Need Love" is an obvious ode to LL Cool J's "I Need Love", but also tips its hat to Digital Underground's "Freaks of the Industry". "Perfect Saturday" has got a lot of love for Cali, breaking down Snoop's style over a formulaic revisiting of Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day", then turning it's focus onto what could be the start of a new trend... the gangsta fart joke. There are a couple of throwaways scattered among the thoughtful. "The Crew" and "We Are a Crowd" don't come off very well, but two out of 20 ain't bad at all. In fact, let's do some simple division and determine the rating for The Wack Album on the PopMatters scale based on the amount of filler.

It is what it is.

9

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.