We defy you to unironically enjoy this song.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa kicks off on June 11th. Sports-wise, the tournament promises to be thrilling, with 32 teams from around the world pitting their varied domestic styles and approaches to the game against each other in a bid to decide the globe’s greatest soccer nation. Music-wise, the geniuses behind the event have given us the rubbish official song “Waka Waka,” sung by the non-South African warbler Shakira, and a secondary rap theme tune performed by the unfathomably-popular Canadian-based and Somalian-born M.C. K’naan. Titled “Wavin’ Flag,” the latter sees the rapper enunciating saccharine lines like “Learn from these streets/It can be bleak/Accept no defeat” — sentiments unlikely to strike much of a chord with today’s top soccer players while they’re cashing their weekly $250,000 pay-checks. Still, there are spicier hip-hop picks to be found in the musical vaults of the competing nations. So we dug around, and came up with nominations for 10 additional, unofficial World Cup theme songs–the wackier, the better. They’re below, divided by nation, of course:
Rappin Hood, “Gol”
He’s never appeared on a Diplo and M.I.A.-curated baile-funk mixtape, but Brazilian sambista Rappin Hood rocks the best rap name a hipster has yet to put on a fake-gold name-plate belt. Bypassing a Babelfish translation, we’re going all out and guessing that “Gol” is his homage to the beautiful game, especially as it opens with a sample of a TV commentator hollering, “Goooooal!” After that, a groove you could pass off as an unreleased J Dilla track to some rabid fan of the deceased Detroit producer kicks in, leading inexorably to a chorus that interplays the words “jigga” and “gol!” Back of the net, indeed.
99 Posse, “Yankee Go Home”
In soccer terms, Italians are known for being steely-cold defenders who’ll resort to any illegal trick in the book to win a match and incubating players who on occasion have been known to give out fascist salutes to the crowd. Which all juxtaposes nicely with the left-wing stylings of Naples-based 99 Posse. Over an eclectic musical backdrop that pillages from jazz, drum ‘n’ bass, and world music, the group rant about world issues like the G8 conferences and talk about the drawbacks of capitalism. Should Italy meet the USA team at any point in the tournament, 99’s anti-Iraq war track “Yankee Go Home” is guaranteed to be flipped into a soccer battle cry.
Liverpool F.C., “Anfield Rap”
After blessing the world with the English language and the game of football, England came up with this late-’80s rapped fusion of the two courtesy of domestic club team Liverpool. The song sparks into life with John Barnes rhyming soccer-related lyrics to the opening pattern of LL Cool J’s “Rock The Bells” and continues to spiral into a parody of Weird Al Yankovich-esque proportions. Still more palatable to the ears than anything by Lady Sovereign, though.
Bonus Host Nation Trivia: The guy with the over-sized foam gloves at the 50 second mark is Bruce Grobbelaar, a South African-born goalkeeper whose later career years were plagued with match-fixing accusations.
DJ Tomekk feat. Lil Kim & Trooper da Don “Kimnotyze”
There are many ways to honor the legacy of the late great Notorious BIG, but lifting the chorus to the rotund rapper’s club hit “Hypnotize” and re-selling it on to the German market definitely seems to lack a certain tenderness. Still, Biggie’s onetime bedmate Lil Kim did just that for the 2001 track “Kimnotyze,” a collaboration with DJ Tomekk and the insanely gruff-voiced Trooper da Don. Possibly in response to Tomekk ruining his own chances of appearing on jungle-based German reality TV show Ich Bin Ein Star–Holt Mich Hier Raus! (after Tomekk performed a hail to Hitler in a hotel lobby), Kimmy keeps it nationalistic by gyrating in front of an American flag towards the end of the video. Salute!
Mighty Big Crime, “School’s Out”
Mixing up an Alice Cooper song, early Beastie Boys-styled shout-rap, and cut-off jean shorts, Australian duo Gumpy and Tricky J epitomize the idea of a crap cash-in rap song. “Stuck in this chain gang/Yeah, they’d be better off if they let us hang,” they plead at one point, sticking it to the man in a manner that Chuck D and his “Fight The Power” spiel never quite managed. And yep, those are inflatable guitars they’re playing…
Teryaki Boyz feat. Kanye West, “I Still Love H.E.R.”
Effectively a puerile-monikered rapping advertisement for the Bathing Ape clothing line, Japan’s Teryaki Boyz have secured superstar cosigns from Kanye West and Pharrell Williams, thanks to the inclusion of Bathing Ape founder Nigo among their ranks. Excruciating to sit through, The Boyz’s videos come over like a far east hip-hop version of The Wiggles. The one for their 2009 semi-update of Common’s “I Used To Love h.e.r.” also seems to employ the same web technology featured back in 1995 Sandra Bullock flick The Net. In a foppishly audacious move, guest rapper and producer Kanye reveals that he’s actually rocking a leather jacket by the brand Troop–the same company who were accused of being in the Ku Klux Klan’s pocket back in the ’80s. The cultural signifiers are off the hook.
MC Solaar feat. Guru, “Le Bien, Le Mal”
The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument at Grand Army Plaza in recently-deceased Gang Starr rapper Guru’s adopted home of Brooklyn is often tagged as the borough’s own Arc de Triomphe. So what better premise for a video with suave French chap MC Solaar–not to be confused with current hip-hop villain and producer Solar–than to have Guru hop on a subway train at the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall station and, via the wonders of the MTA, end up in Paris where he can rap in front of the real Arc de Triomphe! While in France, Guru makes use of his traveler’s phrase book and translates the chorus to the song (“The good, the bad”), often while posturing in front of a wall of graffiti emblazoned with the legend “Rudeboy.” The closing scene of the duo in front of a lit-up Eiffel Tower at night is a Christmas card sure shot.
Sindicato Argentino del Hip-Hop, “Representando”
After twenty seconds of listening to this five-man Argentine group (all sporting delicately-cropped facial hair), you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ve discovered a South American version of Cypress Hill. The song chugs along in the same smokey-but-chunky-and-funky way that Muggs and company used to in the early ’90s, while the chorus sticks to the blueprint of simply chanting the track’s title. Culled from their turn-of-the-century album Un Paso a la Eternidad, “Represntando” isn’t a homage to Nas’s “Represent,” but does showcase a beat better than anything Nasir has picked to rap over lately.
Porta, “Dragon Ball Rap”
The Spanish team may be many pundit’s favorite to win the 2010 World Cup, thanks to a universally praised brand of sophisticated and tricksy, attacking football. Less well thought of is Barcelona-based rapper Porta, an artist roundly dissed back in his homeland for his privileged roots and propensity for talking junk about other domestic rappers. Still, the last laugh is with the 23-year-old thanks to his Dragon Ball Z tribute rap, which, courtesy of its search engine optimized title, “Dragon Ball Rap,” has clocked up close to 30 million YouTube hits. Underscoring Porta’s plans for longevity, the song hails from an album called There’s No Trick.
Prophets Of Da City, “Never Again”
Long before American’s biggest crack-sellers-turned-rappers were patting themselves on the back for helping to elect the country’s first black president, the Prophets Of Da City crew in South Africa spent most of the early ’90s advocating for Nelson Mandela’s ascent to the position of their country’s leader. “Finally a black president,” they proclaimed on their funky 1994 jam “Never Again,” a song that wins by combining an easy-going Souls Of Mischief-style flow with a mentality not too far removed from socially-conscientious Atlanta rap troop Arrested Development. The Prophets went on to celebrate Mandela’s inauguration with a performance of “Excellent, The First Black President”–a ditty that doesn’t include any Young Jeezy-style boasts about the color of their Lamborghinis.