I'm-a Fry This Chicken In My Hand!

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Tom Breihan at the Village Voice devotes far, far more words than anyone should have to on Webstar's novelty hit "Chicken Noodle Soup."

It's basically a kids' song; precious few adults are willing to risk trying the unbelievably goofy leg-kicking arm-flapping dance that goes along with the song. Byron Crawford called the song "minstrel show rap" last week, and it's definitely hard to watch the dance without getting uncomfortable blackface vibes, but it's not like the whole "Chicken Noodle Soup" thing exists to entertain white people. As far as I can tell, it's an entirely grassroots phenomenon.

That may be, but when I watch the video I can hear the distinct sound of stone crashing into pavement as Western Civilization collapses. But Byron Crawford at XXL, whom Breihan links to, sees "Chicken Noodle Soup" as part of an insidious trend.

Minstrel show rap.

Flush with revenue from the likes of Mike Jones' Who Is Mike Jones?, the Ying Yang Twins' "Wait (The Whisper Song)," Three-Six Mafia's Academy Award-winning theme to Hustle and Flow, and D4l's "Laffy Taffy," record labels are rushing out to sign the most coon-like negros they can find.

On one level this is just another battle between self-appointed cultural watchdogs and artists who just want to have fun and make some scratch. But I can't deny that the videos Crawford links to are like outtakes from Bamboozled. In particular, "Fry That Chicken" by Ms. Peachez is one of the most racially awkward things I've seen in years. It's hard to tell if it was spontaneously created by black people or by pranksters at a George Allen picnic old-fashioned hatenanny.

NEXT: Sister Michael Medved Explains It All for You

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  1. I’m guessing here, but I bet in the minstral show days there weren’t junior high gyms full of pudgy white pre-teens trying to imitate the dance moves in order to look cool. Somehow it seems the joke has been reversed.

  2. record labels are rushing out to sign the most coon-like negros they can find.

    So Black Eyed Peasdon’t look silly when they dance and Ol’ Dirty Bastard was a high-water example of how to make black people look austere and respectable?

    ‘Sides…there are only so many ways people can shake or shimmy to a silly song. Country fans have pretty much locked up all of the ones where you don’t move your arms.

  3. I must be missing something here. Rap and hip-hop videos have been channeling minstrel shows almost since the beginning. The strut and swoop and crotch-grab is hardly high culture. Videos like this make DW Griffith look good. Are people just starting to notice?

  4. The chicken noodle soup video seems like 100% standard MTV fare. Doesn’t look any more minstrelly than most videos. The fried chicken one looks straight out of Chapelle’s Show. If these two examples are supposed to be signs of the apocalypse, I don’t think I’ll be losing any sleep.

    Now I just need to find out where I can get my wife a tennis outfit. 🙂

  5. Well I watched it without sound (at work), I expected to be taken aback by blantant racial images – I did not see any. I suspect the words are upsetting, but that is hardly minstrel like (actions, images, words).

  6. My computer here at the office lacks a soundcard (cheap boss!), but the images seem to be loving self-parody of southern country life. I guess that to an outsider it could seem to play into their stereotypes, but I don’t think it was meant for northern white boys.

    I totally want some fried chicken right now.

  7. Comments involving XXL.com or Byron Crawford are supposed to start by the first commenter leaving a comment of “First!”

  8. I have no idea what you people are talking about, and I can assure you: ignorance IS bliss.

  9. Oh, the things this website exposes me to!

    Following the links to “Fry that Chicken” has left me scarred for life.

  10. Too bad Cynthia McKinney is not around to open a congressional investigation.

  11. ed,
    In some ways you are correct. However, in the past ( or at least say late 80s-early 90s and the “golden age”,etc) it seemed that the “minstrel rap” was a just a sliver of the manstream genre. There were always rappers well known for lyricism, the “conscious” backpackers, the purists, the college rap crowd, east coast/west coast/NY/LA, the south,white boys, black militants, “gangstas”, and everything in between. Chuck D, Rakim, De La Soul, Das EFX, EPMD,3rd Bass,Luke/2 Live Crew, NWA, Hammer,etc- were all popular and got airplay, videoplay, sales during the same era. You had the silly novelty dance hits and all that, of course. But those novelty hits were a small part of it.

    These days it seems anything without some kind of “Lean” or about “taffy” or some idiotic junk is not getting any play. Most likely you aren’t going to see D4L and Yung Joc playing along side Little Brother and Mr. Lif or whoever.

    Of course, it’s always been a little difficult to be a rap/hip-hop fan ( for about 27 years or so) with all the ignorance from a lot of the (mostly white?) mainstream who really know nothing about it and think the BET or MTV video du jour is representative of “all rap music.”

  12. Is there some race out there that doesn’t like fried chicken? If so, I recommend we exterminate them immediately.

  13. This is a story for Film Comment, not the Voice: The Garden of the Finzi-Continis has finally been displaced as the supreme stroke reel for tennis togs fetishists.

  14. think the BET or MTV video du jour is representative of “all rap music.”

    Welcome to the world of every sub-genre afficionado in existence.

  15. Reading the comments on youtube gives me a worse headache than watching the videos.

  16. From one of the linked articles:

    “Granted, it can be argued that hip-hop became a minstrel show of sorts the first time some jig put on a gold chain and began pacing back and forth gripping his unit. No Richard Simmons. But that was unintentional.”

    Yeah, sure it was. Just a coincidence that young white people like to pay money to hear black people behaving stereotypically.

    And the stereotypes are getting worse. If it’s cringe-inducing to see Al Jolson in blackface singing about how he loves his “mammy,” it’s even worse to see some black dude talking about how he f___s his b___h.

    This isn’t exactly an earth-shaking threat, but it shows how modern sensitivities are straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

  17. These people really think that a stupid rap song has some kind of deep meaning? Do they also think that the hokey pokey is what it’s all about?

  18. Just a coincidence that young white people like to pay money to hear black people behaving stereotypically.

    If it were about the implied racism, they wouldn’t emulate the behavior and slang in order to be hip.

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