Surely you’ve heard of “Hot Cheetos and Takis,” the banger from the Y.N.RichKids, by now? The song, a product of the Minneapolis North Community YMCA’s Beats and Rhymes Program, is as infectious as its titular snacks are artificially flavored, with what appears to be a bunch of community school-educated pre-teens spitting the ode to the convenience store staples. It’s also sincerely one of the best rap songs of this summer. Let us count the reasons why.
Y.N.RichKids, “Hot Cheetos & Takis”
1. You know exactly where it’s going from the jump. That first synth stab establishes “HC&T” as part of the Lex Luger-ed trend of loud, ominous, system-filling jams. And it delivers on that promise.
2. “I go by the name of Dame Jones.” One of the two rappers savvy enough to put his name on the track—the kinetic J (or Jay? or Jae?) is the other—leads off with the perfect intro. Diddy and DJ Khaled are proud.
3. THAT. HOOK. “Hot Cheetos and Takis, Hot Cheetos and Takis/ I can’t get enouuugh of these Hot Cheetos and Takis/ Got my fingers stained red and I cannot get ’em off me/ You can catch me and my crew eatin’ Hot Cheetos and Takis/ BOW!/ SNACK, SNACK, SNACK, CRUNCH!/ SNACK, SNACK, SNACK, MUNCH!” It’s Waka Flocka Flame’s approach boiled down to its simple essence, and it is stuck in your head now, don’t lie.
4. The beat itself is phenomenal. Lamentably, the only things we know for sure about the production are that the YouTube video says it’s produced by “Chips &:” and that it was done by a professional, but the drum hits, claps, and snaps are in the right places, the stuttering drum sounds rule, and when the beat opens up to the storm of synths, it sounds like a real beat—because it is, not some watered-down Kidz Rap abomination.
5. Dame Jones can rap. “Got like three or four dollars and a couple-odd cents/ ‘Bout to cop me some Hot Cheetos and a Lemonade Brisk/ I’m ridin’ ’round on my bicycle, ridin’ ’round on my bicycle/ Pull up at the studio, ’cause you know that the kid be meltin’ them microphones.” Rappers who have put albums out on major labels this year can’t touch those four bars.
6. “Then I walked up to yo’ girl, and she askin’ me to share.” Dame Jones will steal your girl and share his Takis, all while wearing an honest-to-God Vancouver Grizzlies snapback. He is cooler than I am.
7. The little running dance the kid who follows Dame does on the playground in the video at the end of Dame’s verse is perfect.
8. “I’m on point like an elbow, hands red like Elmo/ My mama said, ‘Have you had enough?’/ I looked at her, I said ‘No, ma’am!'” So much going on here: the half-bar rhyme of “elbow/Elmo” is a thing you don’t hear from many rappers (it reminds me of King L’s verse on “I Get Paid” and CyHi Da Prynce’s “On point like Rondo” from his song on the NBA 2K12 soundtrack that might have shaped this rhyme), and beyond being the sort of bar that gets cited as perfectly “age-appropriate”, it’s great: “Hands red like Elmo” is the sort of thing that only a kid would think to rap, but that makes it no less dope. And that second bar! This is a fine trick of head-fake rhyme (the logical second bar ends with “hell no”) that makes a transition easy and something most rappers don’t do, using the Lil Wayne tactic of “Oops, I meant…” instead. It’s also reminiscent of one of the best rappers of the year, Future, who drops “”I got a Haitian girl speak Creole, and a Spanish girl from Rio/ When you put ’em in a room together, make a perfect combo” to great effect on “We In This Bitch 2.0.”
9. “Buyin’ it wit’ my allowance, so nobody can stop me.” Rembert Browne has already noted how great this line is, but it’s nice to remember that the feeling of buying something with cash money is not something reserved for Cash Money.
10. The ad-libs, throughout, are wonderful.
11. I love that a Minnesota YMCA has a youth basketball team called the Jaguars. There aren’t even jaguars at the Minnesota Zoo.
12. The video is no small part of why this went viral. (Does anything go viral without a visual in 2012?) Done by 13twentythree, which somehow doesn’t have it in its Music Videos category, the video captures how freakin’ fun filming a rap video with a bunch of people in it is, and has a lot of the rainbow lens flares that are always fantastic (see Bei Maejor’s “Lights Down Low” video) for summery clips.
13. The fourth verse begins with a kid sitting on top of the hoop and includes him talking about his “ice flow,” making Drake-style hand gestures, and firing a shot at Fritos. He is also far cooler than I am.
14. “YOU CAN’T STOP ME!” is about the first phrase I can make out from the kid who is imitating Waka at his most Animal-ish in that fourth verse, and I’m totally fine with that.
15. The appearance of a second kid on the hoop means that the folks who directed this video probably spent about an hour putting various kids on the hoop and filming them to make everyone happy. If you don’t think that’s adorable, I feel bad for you.
16. I’m pretty sure J/Jay/Jae’s going to be an s-t-a-r. The “H-o-t Cheetos” bar is superb, the delivery of her verse while Tigger-bouncing all over is tremendous, the Dougie in the middle of it shows she can really dance.
17. “And I chew my food, ’cause you know I got them manners.” Awww.
18. The universality of all of this. Do you think of Minneapolis as a place where there are lots of corner stores? Do you think of Minnesota as a hotbed for Atlanta-reminiscent rap? These are kids showing you both things are, in one small way, true.
19. If you pause the video during the older kid’s dunk, you can see that everyone is looking up at him. This is exactly what always happens when one kid can dunk and everyone else wants to, and now it is committed to video for a completely different reason.
20. The crunch sound at the end. Because of course there’s a crunch sound at the end.