The Lonely Island
Release Date: February 10, 2009
On the December 17, 2005 episode of the ageless sketch comedy show that is Saturday Night Live, Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell unleashed a force to be reckoned with onto the unsuspecting audience that night: The SNL Digital Short known as “Lazy Sunday.”At this point, the SNL Digital Short was a new, unproven commodity, with “Lazy Sunday” being just the second short premiered. However, there would be many, many more to come, partially because of the unprecedented success of “Lazy Sunday,” with its mammoth amount of YouTube views and iTunes downloads. The success is well-deserved: The clip was a breath of hilarious fresh air for SNL, which, in general, had been flat and underwhelming for several seasons. Unbeknownst to many at the time, the creative powerhouse behind the nerdcore hip-hop was none other than the triforce of The Lonely Island, who finally released a full album of truly hysterical pseudo-hip-hop joints.
Aided by the likes of Justin Timberlake, T-Pain, Norah Jones, Natalie Portman, Julian Casablancas from The Strokes and Jack Black, The Lonely Island master the synthesis of comedy and hip-hop on almost every track of their debut album, Incredibad. It is not just parody but also homage, as each song showcases a different, well-known aspect of many popular hip-hop and rap songs. The T-Pain collaboration of “I’m on a Boat” is a perfect example, as it parodies the ongoing abuse of AutoTune in many rap and R&B songs, all the while repeating the simple fact that they are, indeed, on a boat. Like many of the songs on the album, the beats are surprisingly legitimate. In fact, if any rapper utilized them and put out a “real” rap song, it would not be discordant at all. The hilarity ensues, therefore, with the contrast of beat and lyrics. On the surface, “Lazy Sunday” sounds like a brutal gangster rap song. Additionally, the delivery of the rhymes is fittingly fierce and intense. However, in actuality, it’s just about two guys going to see The Chronicles of Narnia on an otherwise uneventful Sunday afternoon. The Lonely Island effectively use stark contrasts like this on the entire album. “Natalie’s Rap” showcases the “true” side of actress Natalie Portman, as she vulgarly and hilariously details who she really is.
The Lonely Island use popular hip-hop and comedic motifs and meld them together with great success. Simple things like repetition elicit many laughs without getting old. Case in point: “Like A Boss” details an average day in the life of “the boss” Andy Samberg, which starts out typical, but soon gets more and more exaggerated and, thus, funny. The repetition sets in because every single thing that is listed is followed by the descriptor “like a boss:” “Micromanage / Like a boss! / Promote synergy / Like a boss!” Hip-hop mainstays like product placement are emphasized in “Dreamgirl,” whereas the popular inclusion of space-filling skits and interludes are also present and, like their hip-hop counterparts, are not very funny.
Alas, the album as a whole does its job of making hip-hop songs with side-splitting lyrics and atypical topics. The closing title track has the trio asking a thankful alien (yeah, you’re going to have to hear that one on your own to find out why) to be “the greatest fake MCs on earth.” The Lonely Island know better than to take themselves seriously, yet they finely filter the basic tenets of comedy and hip-hop music, and the end result is Incredibad, a highly replayable, surprisingly infectious and of course hilarious album from beginning to end.
The Lonely Island - I'm on a Boat (feat. T-Pain)