That's My Jam: The Bob Saget Realization

Like many a young lad of my particular generation and background, my first exposure to Snoop Dog came from the popularity of the videos he made in the mid 90's backing up Dr. Dre, followed by his solo clips -- especially Gin and Juice, which was an instant MTV hit with almost anyone who saw it, regardless of their preferred musical taste.
The groove was solid, the voice was unique -- what's not to love?
Being a fairly strict metal-head at the time, my exposure to hip hop as an overall scene was largely limited. The best way for me to probably illustrate this to you was that I was still at a point where I thought hip hop and rap were essentially the same thing. You can call it a cultural divide if you want (and I'm sure that played some part in my naiveté) but really, it was more about lack of exposure to the genre than anything else.

Despite my headbanging lean, there were plenty of pop albums in my CD collection. But the truth of the matter was that I really hadn't taken the dive deep into different genres and style, instead just dabbling whenever I came across a single that I really liked.

It added to what I thought at the time was the diversity of my musical taste -- this idea that having my Napalm Death CD's nestled next to the Public Enemy, Bob Marley, and Bjork was somehow proof of a higher taste in music than other people around me, when in truth it made me pretty much just like every other high-school/college kid out there at the time.
Never was this lack of understanding more apparent than when I made the decision to finally pick up Snoop's debut disc Doggystyle, so that I could listen to "Gin and Juice" whenever I wanted, instead of just waiting for it to come on the radio.
One of the things that I really liked about "Gin and Juice" was the fact that here was a song literally about smoking weed, having sex, and getting drunk written in such a way that you knew exactly what was going on, but none of the words had been changed or cut up to soften the blow. The MTV version I had grown to enjoy was the perfect mix of clever wordplay and implied vulgarity.
I even thought myself hip beyond belief for having a pretty good idea of what Indo was.
..Then I played the album track.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you think you know something, where you feel like you're right on the pulse of what's happening, only to have it come crashing down around you like a house of cards?

Because suddenly when the REAL lyrics came pouring out of the speakers revealing to me what was almost an entirely different song -- with entire verses I'd not heard before laced with all of the words and ideas I had loved him for cleverly working around..
Lets just say it was not a proud moment in white-boy history.
It's funny, because I actually worked at a Radio Station at the time this was happening. Add to that the fact that I was a huge fan of several prog-rock groups who performed 10-minute songs laced with profane lyrics and objectionable references, I was well acquainted with the idea of what a Radio Edit was, and how it could easily change the entire mood and effect of a given song just by taking out a few choice words or cutting out an extended musical break.

And it's not like I have sensitive ears to profanity. I love cuss words. I'm all about the freedom of speech and challenging people who are offended by words themselves and not the mindsets of the people who are speaking them. Hell, I used to ask for George Carlin cassettes for birthday presents when I was younger. What's more -- I'm constantly correcting myself in front of my son to make sure he doesn't adopt particular facets of my speaking style too early in his own elementary school career.

It was that I had come to believe that Snoop Dog was one kind of raw, only to find out that apparently I really didn't know what raw was. Despite my love of Ice-T's albums and going through the pre-requisite stage of sneaking listens to "forbidden" Too Live Crew and Too Short albums in my car in the 80's (which were rude in their own way, but to be honest -- felt more like novelty albums than actual statements about an artist or a given lifestyle), there was something about the whiplash of thinking you knew a song and an artist only to realize you had been taken in by the clever wrapping paper and popular media image to the point where the realization felt like some sort of sucker punch.

The best comparison I can think of were the stories of Las Vegas comedy audiences who spent money to see the act of beloved TV dad and America's Funniest Home Video's host Bob Saget expecting to get an evening of funny voices and embarrassing mother-in-law/what's the deal with airline food-type jokes, only to be shell-shocked to the point of walking out when they discovered that when not tethered by network executives and the promise of a huge paycheck, Bob Saget is one of the most vulgar and inappropriate comedians working today.
Of course when you get right down to it -- Saget made a boatload of money being America's most non-threatening honky, enough that he really doesn't have to care what people think of his real act, or need to placate them in order to continue being a success.
Simply put, the reason he is able to be his own depraved, profane self largely because
of how good he was at being the guy you could bring home to mother for so many years.
Similarly, Snoop Dog's mass appeal is only really a minor reflection of what his albums and live performances actually bring. It's certainly not a new game -- people like Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and Red Foxx had to dance around censors for years as they battled through the twin worlds of their popular media image and their real performing selves to reach audiences.

Even today, when you think of the kinds of movies that Eddie Murphy ever seems to make anymore versus the reason so many people love Eddie Murphy -- you come to realize that whether real, imagined, or for whatever reason self-imposed (i.e. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's decision to make kid movie after kid movie despite what seemed like a limitless horizon for success as America's next action star) that this concept of having to have multiple versions of yourself is still very much alive and well.
So much so that when artists seeking mass appeal don't play the game, they quickly
find themselves on the wrong side of the public opinion they're trying so hard to win over.
Think for a second about how good Middle America seemed to feel about adoring American Idol runner up Adam Lambert -- only to find out that instead of that lovable Will and Grace/Clay Aiken kind of homosexual that everyone seems to enjoy hearing the humor and fashion sense of -- he was that "other kind of gay" that actually likes to have sex with other men.

The reason I bring this up is that there's a song out there that I'd only heard on internet radio in it's uncut, full-length version. A song that and I'm digging on pretty heavy. Filled with the snarl of Pantera, the tempo of classic Bay-area thrash, and the kind of anger groove that really gets a headbanger like me going -- Lamb of God's Redneck was instantly a much-repeated favorite on my iPod, both for drumming along with on the steering wheel of my car or cranking through the headphones at work.

I realize this kind of music isn't for everyone -- but if people were going to enjoy a song in this style, this was in my opinion as good a place to start as any. If crossover acts like Mudvayne and Korn could sneak singles into the ear buds of folks who usually wouldn't give them the time of day -- then there was clearly room for the catchy hook and angry vibe of this tune.
Which is probably why they decided to make a video for it.
Except that they decided to make this video, which might be one of the lamest things I've ever seen.
Now before we move on, I have a couple of points I'd like to make about the clip itself:
  1. Three Strippers!? That's the best you guys could come up with? The casting agency for the video found half a dozen soccer mom types to be horrified by your antics, but you could only convince three of your skanks to go on camera for you? That's embarrassing, son. Go back and try it again.
  2. If you're like me, and found yourself wondering why the lead guitarists hands seemed to be flailing all over the place during his closeups in the "live concert" part of the clip, it's because (for some untold reason) he's not keeping his thumb on the back of the guitar neck, which is really sort of weird.
  3. Even in a video as bad and as cliche as this one, a clown getting punched in the face is always funny.
Anyways, I know there's probably a few of you out there who are thinking, "Hey it's just a dumb music video, who cares?" -- and to an extent you're probably right. Lamb of God is an established and popular metal band with legions of rabid fans. When you get right down to it, they don't really need a hit music video.

I suppose that it's even possible that when presented with the idea to promote a "hit single" -- that the band took the shrewd step to make the worst possible video they could so that the label would never bother them with such noise again and they could just move on with the business of being a working, touring band.

All that being said -- what I find really odd about the whole thing is that when you think about the way acts like Snoop Dog and Lil John and Ludacris had to sort of tone down the rawness of their songs while simultaneously amping up the pop appeal of their videos to help them reach a wider audience, here you have a hard-charging heavy metal band who you would think would be looking for the complete opposite result.
And yet they've created a video with jokes that wouldn't really cut the mustard on a throwaway episode of Two and a Half Men.
It's not like the whole "Metal Band shows up in suburbia and terrifies your parents" is a new idea -- Twisted Sister made an entire career of videos like this back in the 80's. But you'd sorta think Lamb of God of all people would jump at an opportunity to promote themselves as hard partying degenerates who are out to turn your normal bright and happy world upside down, but instead they're just sorta goofy Lenny and Squiggy level malcontents who eat all your snacks and stand in front of the screen door while decent people are trying to get outside to refill the punchbowl.
Watch out Parents -- Lamb of God is coming to to corrupt your kids and hit you in
the face with a pie. The Devil himself fears their joy buzzers and whoopee cushions!
Seriously, Lemmy Wept.
But it got me to thinking about this whole idea of artists playing parts of their images up or down in order to appeal to certain audiences. From Lady Gaga's crazy costumes and "shocking" production numbers to Taylor Swift's unending efforts to look like the most innocent and non-threatening White Girl ever to sing songs about being a princess who is sooooo in love with the guy who helped her look for her lost puppy and then they shook hands and parted ways amicably -- there's always some sort of hustle going on to try and make sure people associate bands and singers with certain ideas and social scenes. But I can't be the only one who was pulled in by a groups image or sound making me think they were something only to have them turn around and be the complete opposite.
So the real question is, have you ever had this happen to you?
And if so -- who was responsible?

[Listening to:  Janes Addiction - "Suffersome" ]


Werdna said…
No the question is... have you ever done it?

Huh Groove Puppy?
Hex said…
Werdna -- That's a good question. I tend to think we always did our best to present ourselves in the bands we played in as musically diverse. Even early on, when we didn't have the level of talent to back up our intentions, we tried to play a variety of styles.

So even when we put up flyers saying come see this kind of show, I always looked at the fact that there were all kinds of different songs in store as kind of a cool thing rather than some sort of switcheroo.

And yet, I can think of half a dozen jam sessions or band auditions where I walked in there with the long hair and the pointy guitar and then proceeded to play anything but what that look might have led people to expect, that yeah -- I might have pulled that game once or twice.

How about you?
Werdna said…
I don't know if I considered my image enough to think about pulling the switcheroo. I like to think there was a large degree of what you see is what you get (although somethings are obviously an act).

Usually a twist is delightful, but a switcheroo is jarring.
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