A Brief History of “Weird Al” and Rhyme


This week sees the release of Mandatory Fun, the 14th studio album from the high priest of parody “Weird Al” Yankovic. Yankovic’s uncanny ability to mimic and mock the stylings of his targets are always impressive, especially his endeavors into the world of hip-hop. While “Amish Paradise” and “White and Nerdy” are two of his biggest hits, Al’s hip-hop history runs deep. Here’s our complete history of “Weird Al’s” hip-hop endeavors.

See also: The 10 Best Male Rappers of All Time

“Twister” 1988
While not a direct parody of a specific song, Al’s also known for doing specific style parodies of certain artists. His first effort to rap on wax saw his take on Licensed to Ill-era Beastie Boys with “Twister.” The penultimate song on Even Worse, it’s largely forgotten in wake of that album’s much more notable hits.

“Isle Thing” 1989
The third single from the soundtrack to his cult classic motion picture UHF, “Weird” Al’s first official parody of a rap song came from Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing.” Rewritten about “Gilligan’s Island,” “Isle Thing” become one of the many Yankovic songs about television, a subject almost as near and dear to his heart as food.

“I Can’t Watch This” “Taco Grande” 1992
Speaking of television and food, they became the subject of the two parodies on Al’s next album 1992’s Off the Deep End. Parodying MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” (“I Can’t Watch This”) and Gerado’s “Rico Suave” (“Taco Grande”) the hip-hop influence on the early 90s was evident, as also heard from the inclusion of Digital Underground’s “Humpty Dance” and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” in the album’s “Polka Your Eyes Out” medley.

“Amish Paradise” 1996
One of the biggest hits of Al’s career came from his 1996 parody of Coolio’s “Gangsta Paradise” with his song “Amish Paradise.” While Coolio famously took issue with the parody, leading to Al now making sure he has permission from the artists themselves, they’ve allegedly since mended the fences. Fool.

“It’s All About the Pentiums” 1999
One of Al’s most ambitious videos came from his take on the rock remix of Puff Daddy and the Family’s “It’s All About the Benjamins” off of Running With Scissors. The very 1999 “It’s All About the Pentiums” featured send-ups of numerous Bad Boy-era videos and boasted cameos from Drew Carey (playing his best Ma$e) and Emo Philips. The second single from Running With Scissors, the album also featured Pras’ “Ghetto Superstar” and Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” worked into the “Polka Power” medley.

Couch Potato, “Trash Day” 1996
Al returned in 2003 with Poodle Hat which, unfortunately, became his only album without a video single as Eminem refused to grant him permission to make a video parody of his take on “Lose Yourself,” a Television-tribute “Couch Potato.” While Em did give him permission to parody the song on the album, he felt the song itself meant too much to him (although he seemed to have no qualms about it being the center of an iTunes campaign about a year later). The album also featured Al’s take on Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” with “Trash Day” and inclusions of Em’s “The Real Slim Shady” and Kid Rock’s “Bawitdaba” in “Angry White Boy Polka.”

“White and Nerdy” 2006
Al nailed his first platinum single and Billboard top 10 with a parody of Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone’s “Riden Dirty.” It’s one of Al’s most impressive feats, mimicking two of rap’s most distinct and difficult flows absolutely perfectly. The track was so well received, Chamilionaire even added the song’s video to the top of his MySpace page. The album’s polka medley, “Polkarama” also featured more hip-hop than ever, including Black Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get It Started,” Gorillaz and De La Soul’s “Feel Good Inc.,” Pussycat Dolls and Busta Rhymes’ “Don’t Cha,” 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop,” Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and Kanye West’s “Gold Digger.”

“Whatever You Like” 2008
A free download between albums, Al released his take on TI’s “Whatever You Like” just as TI’s own track was dominating the charts. An ideal mid-recession album, it later appeared on his Internet Leaks EP and 2011’s Alpocalypse.

“Another Tattoo” 2011
Also on Alpocalypse was his take on B.O.B. and Bruno Mars’ “Nothin on You,” the infectious “Another Tattoo.” Fairly underrated in terms of how sharp Al’s timing is, the accompanying video was directed by Augenblick Studios, most famous for Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans.

“Handy” 2014
Premiering yesterday on Yahoo Music is Al’s take on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” a tribute to informercial handymen titled “Handy.” Al’s dead-on nailing of a pop culture darling 35 years after his first single should be proof enough that the man deserves a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Just when you think Al can’t maintain his consistency, he’s proven to be as constant as sound itself.

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