A few weeks ago, I did a little write up of the making of “Let’s get serious” by my former comedy group Party Fun Action Committee.
In that write up, I basically just gave an overview of how this album came about and little stories behind it.
So, in part 2, I figured I will get a little deeper into the actual music. I rundown of the songs on the album and our thoughts behind them. Because PFAC was such a failure with fans, I don’t have youtube clips for all the songs. So, if you’re reading this and want to have a clearer idea of what we’re talking about, here’s a link to download the album:
So, now that you got that, let’s get serious…
Contrary to popular belief, there really are no distinct targets we were going after with this one. Granted, I was definitely using a “Cella Dwellas” type voice on the third verse and Jer was channeling a little Kweli with his last verse where he’s all weak voiced and off beat…but it wasn’t really planned. It was just us making fun of the different type of underground hip hop that were around us. All the “lyrical miracle” rappers out there who assumed using big words equaled having skills.
The few times we performed as PFAC , this was a funny one to start with cause, in general, the crowd didn’t know what to expect. So we’d come out doing terrible underground rap. We opened for Aesop once and the confusion was palpable when we went into the second song…where we sang R&B.
I liked the idea of a fast underground lisp rapper who has skills but unfortunately has a bad lisp as well. But he won’t let that awful lisp bring him down although he sounds stupid. That’s sort of a play on white rappers who’s voices are the worst and should never rap seriously even if they can rap ok. My last character I did in 1 take which is obviously believable considering how off beat it is. I wrote that verse as a joke way before pfac existed and was happy to come across it again to flip in an awesome kweli style. I was definitely thinking about kweli when I rapped that. Ps. I am not a kwalie fan.
Watchu know now
This song is the most spot on of all the parodies. So much so that it’s actually hard to get through. Jer made the track and knocked it out of the park. Rap-rock was popping off back then and it was pretty much the bane of our existence. Just a completely unforgivable form of music. We came up with the idea of having one guy who was a little more rock sounding (My character Danny Darwin, who was named after the former texas rangers pitcher) and Jer’s character “MC Rhyme” , who was all about feeble verbal gymnastics (“I kick it and rip it and kick it and rip it cause I’m so wicked”). Basically two dudes who liked marginally pop versions of whatever genre they championed who thought it was a great idea to blend the two together cause, well, why not?
Obviously, the strongest shots were going after Fred Durst and Limp Bizkit, but my character was more based on Zack De la rocha if he was a christian fundamentalist. The addition of the religious overtones to the song lent itself nicely to how fucking ridiculous the entire idea of music like this is. It was like 10 contradictions playing against each other at once.
Jer’s character was more leaning toward that dude from Linkin Park who thought
he was a real rapper.
The drawn out ending was really put there to test the listeners ability to put up with how bad music can be. Jer made that and I remember thinking he was a crazy person when he first played it for me. But it made sense in respect to the kinda song we just made. The addition of the “I think I’m going crazy” line from “Insane in the membrane” is probably my favorite part of the song.
Jer wrote: for this one I brought out my old gibson explorer metallica guitar and played all the parts on the 8 track. I used the bass effects to simulate bass but its actually a guitar as well. Then I sampled it into the mpc, added drums and samples and sequenced it there. Then I put the sequenced instrumental track back on the br8 as a stereo track. So the music took up 2 tracks of the 8 so actually all the vocals for every song except poetry, peter pan, and “here comes the rock”, we could only use 6 vocal tracks. That’s pretty interesting considering all of our crazy layered singing outros. It was a bit of a puzzle to fit everything in and mix it down for our more complex songs like beer, shoulda known, 80’s, back days, etc.
Be My Lady
Obviously, This is a Ja-rule and Nelly parody. It was pretty straight forward. At the time, they were the only thing playing on the radio and I wished them harm on a daily basis.
An interesting detail of this song is that jer’s character is actually a girl…or a hermaphrodite. Whatever the case, he/she has tits and a clit.
I shoulda known
We made this song pretty soon after the R-Kelly scandal. It had been done for a while and then, right before the album was released, Dave Chappelle did his famous “piss on you” skit on the Chappelle show. Sufficed to say, we were both a little bummed that someone beat us to it on a larger scale. But, fuck it, our song was more than just that one joke so we both stood by it.
The original idea was to take the concept of syrupy R&B music and show a darker side. A side where things go terribly wrong. Where romantic quests become a nightmare.
But, more than anything, we wanted to straddle that line of how graphic some of these songs got under the guise of being romantic.
For instance , one of the grossest lines to me in this song (full of gross lines) was when I say “So we got into here house and temperatures rose, we made out for a while and I sucked on her toes”. A line after, a hairy dick flops out but that toes sucking visual always stuck with me more…cause I was sucking the toes of a man.
While the first verse is a cautionary tale of being fooled by a transexual.that had regretful tones in it, the second was an unrepentant look into the eyes of a pedophile. While the character does feel a little bummed that the girl he boned was 13, it still didn’t stop him from literally taking a shit on her.
Jer and I have this thing we got into, while making these songs, where we always wanted to close any song with singing out in these elaborate rounds of harmonies. Pretty much every singing song we did on this album has one. This one was completely retarded. At 4:31, we are literally singing “Listen to the switch now, riiiiiiiiight now. Ohhhhh yeahhh right now” and then we switch.
Jer wrote: To get my voice for this song, I channeled Usher’s voice from “you got it bad” which I had been hearing a lot on the radio back then at my shitty doctors office file clerk job. I hated(hate) that song and I wanted to mock Usher by making him a bit more Kermit the frogish. I worked really hard on the track for this song and it is all played with no samples. I really like the triumphant ending which we blessed with amazing singing.
Making fun of spoken word poetry is probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done. This entire “Piece” was actually a reworked version of something I did in a skit on our old Public access show. At the time, it was improvised but this version was that improv rewritten and refined.
Jer and I also take a few shots at Free jazz on this album, and this was one of them. The music in the background was basically jer just bugging out with a bunch of random crap he had in his crib.
Jer and I both went to college in Massachusetts. Prior to going there, I don’t think either of us knew real deal frat bro’s existed. Well, obviously, they had a profound effect on us. So much so that we made a song about them. They loved beer, date rape and Bob Marley. This one wasn’t making fun of any specific genre at the time but, strangely enough, it’s not far off from what Asher Roth was doing a half a decade later (except he’s serious).
My character , who unintentionally sounded like Eric Cartman, was meant to be the main dipshit. Like the blonde asshole in every 80’s college movie. Think Johnny from “The Karate Kid” but in charge of a frat.
Jer’s character was straight up boston frat dude BRO.
Like many of the songs on this album, this one is basically a well crafted 5 minute gay joke. But, it’s about frats, so, what do you expect?
Also, the vocal clips in the end (they start around 4:26) are from a super old skit we made for out public access about, you guessed it, date raping, frat bro’s who are probably gay.
Nerd rap was something that had beginning to show it’s head around that time. I made what many consider nerd rap at that time but, in reality, the nerd rap I’m talking about was very removed from the hip hop I listened to or made. It was this ironic, hipstery shit that played on insecurity and embraced things like having a weak voice and a off beat flow. It just wasn’t my shit.
Anyway, so this song was our version of that.
Now, everyone who’s aware of Paul Barmen figured out that Jer’s “Mc Noel Wiessman” is a play on Barman…but here’s something you didn’t know…Prior to the making of this song, Jer had never heard a Paul Barman verse. So, that spot on impression is the result of me EXPLAINING what Paul Barman sounded like.
This was a bit of a curveball. It was a take off on the Depeche mode style of new wave music. The thing is, unlike other song parodies on the album, we didn’t use the genre as the joke. It was more a platform to write a song about the different types of people out there. We felt there was a defined difference between someone being an asshole, a dipshit and dickhead. This song is a detailed explanation.
This is another song with a subtle free jazz diss that no one has ever caught (as far as I know). in the second verse Jer sings “I get inspired by free Jazz” and the background singer replace the “Oh-ah” with “sun-ra”. I dunno why I was so wanting to shit on free jazz at the time but I’d guess it comes from sampling all sorts of records and having to listen through countless hours of atonal bullshit that got passed off as “free jazz”.
I might also add that this is my favorite song on the album. The singing at the end was not only really fucking hard to do, but it’s one of my favorite musical moments I’ve ever been involved with. Go figure.
for that one I used my dads old dx7 keyboard which was actually from the 80’s along with live guitar with a bass effect. And sampled parts of 80’s drum beats. A lot of artist used the dx7 in the 80’s so it had an authentic 80’s feel.
This one has a funny story behind it.
So, Jer was over at my crib one day and we’re supposed to record some parts for “Cream dreams”. However, I came down with strep throat so it was a no go. Having time to kill, Jer opted to shit himself in a room, smoke a blunt and just make some random shit up. I left him alone and went to lay in bed and feel bad for myself. While there, he’d call up and ask me random questions about what kind of clothing the little prince might wear. I honestly was so sick I thought I might have been hallucinating but, it turns out I wasn’t.
About 3 hours later, Jer emerged from the living room with this song. This was 100% Jer. I can’t really even put it into words. All I can say is that i was singing it to myself the rest of the week.
When it came time to put the album together, we had this song kinda laying around. We both wanted to somehow put it on the album but didn’t really know how one earth it would fit. We said fuck it, and just made it a “Demo” , working within the confines of the whole A&R story of the album. I think we both thought it would get cut cause it made no sense in the context of the album…but it didn’t.
Honestly, the fact that that song was pressed and sold in stores is one of the most proud memories of I have of the entire album.
I don’t really remember how I decided to make that song. I do know that once the idea got going It all came together very naturally and if you listen to the last chorus the “rauwly rauwly” have a much stronger RR. Half way through making it I realized I really liked a strong “Rauwly”. I used the ghetto effects on my digital 8 track(br8) for some of the layered voices and that’s why it sounds kinda creepy. In fact I think it was the same effect that I used to make my kid voice a little higher in “after school special” also creepy indeed. I liked fucking with the br8 effects. There were a hand full that I thought were pretty good.
Back N Da Daiz
This was the first song jer and I ever made. The original was recorded around 95 on my cassette four track. The whole idea was taking the piss out of the ever popular “back in the days” songs that were everywhere in hip hop. Instead of just copying the concept , we opted to make it super white. Just Jer and I remembering the good old days on the porch. The first verse was an obvious set up by being overly sweet and trite. The second verse reveals us as truly terrible people who would rape dolphins and molest our nieces.
The line “but you know what was awesome?
going to Barbados and murdering that dolphin.
Cutting up it’s meat and selling it to the locals
but before we cut it up we stuck our dicks in it’s blow hole”
was actually the only thing we changed from the original version, when we rerecorded it for the album. The original version had a line about setting homeless people on fire and pissing out the flame. I honestly don’t know why we changed it. Perhaps that was too much? who knows. I doubt it.
Here comes the rock
This was the outro rock song. BAsically, this some song Jer and I made completely shit faced before we went out to a party one night. It was totally improvised (which is pretty clear) and , to this day, cracks me up more than most things on this album.
JEr wrote: This was just a one take freestyle in terms of lyrics, and the drums are just one of the shitty beats that the br8 comes with. I was happy to show off my corny rock guitar solo skills as well.
Jer also added about the two stars of the album, A&R guys LArs Heighmale and Stephen Richardson:
I think some people thought that our running skit of the 2 douche bag lable guys going through demos slowed down the album, but I stand by the skits and I think they’re even funnier today. I think using those characters helped us gain real crazy cultish followers which I think is cool. We worked our asses off editing those down and I think a few of them could be a little shorter but I really enjoy hearing them every now and then. We did another skit of these great men a few years ago for a yameen compilation and it was so easy to pick up right were we left off years ago. In fact I think it was maybe easier and funnier. Its good to know Lars and Steven still dwell somewhere within us
Here are the more recent clips of Lars and Stephen:
There were also a handful of songs that never made the album for various reasons. here are some thoughts on those, as well as a download link:
1)After school special
This is a song Jer and i made when we were VERY high. it’s the story of a teacher and his young student and it’s pretty much the creepiest song ever made. the beauty of it is there is not a single curse word in it yet it most likely will make your skin crawl by the time you’re half way through it. this one didn’t make the album cause, well, it just didn’t. it didn’t fit into the theme of the album and , honestly, it even creeps me out and i made it.
This song was made right around the time john mayer was just getting big. neither jer nor myself understood why this terrible singer was getting so much love over his overly sappy love declarations. so, we made our own john mayer song. this was actually made after the album was finished so it didn’t make the cut. too bad though cause it would’ve fit nicely on the album.
this song is jer and I poking fun at rap where rappers about rap but in an old school way. primarily jurassic 5. to clarify, i don’t have any issue with J5′s music. i own their early ep on vinyl. love the beats bah blah blah…but it was so easy to make fun of the whole “I heart hip hop!” crowd, so we did it. this one got left off the album cause people who knew J5 thought it might not be taken with a chuckle. apparently, those guys are some real dudes who might not be so into two white assholes from NYC making fun of them. fair enough. it didn’t make the album. i always felt it wasn’t that serious and the song isn’t on some “ether” shit. it’s pretty playful. but whatever, you got it now.
If you look at the album cover of “let’s get serious” you’ll notice me in the lower left corner looking like fat freddie mercury. this is because “Cream dreams” was a late pull off the album. “cream dreams” is a gay song. literally. it’s tongue in cheek to the max and , honestly, i don’t see how it could be considered THAT offensive to anyone who doesn’t take themselves way too seriously. my gay friends love it but i suppose that doesn’t mean shit. this song got pulled cause some people felt it would cause an uproar of “def jux is homophobic!”. looking back, it’s funny cause, not enough people heard the album to be in an uproar about anything. in fact, had there been an uproar, i imagine the album would’ve sold a lot better. whatever the case, i do understand why they pulled this song. i don’t think it was necessary but that’s the nature of the business. safety first. this song remains a favorite amongst my friends though and that’s more important anyway.
Tony re-made this beat and then once we recorded vocs I took the track home and added some effects to take it to the next level. Like the phone ringing, dial tone, hang up sound, and maybe something else. We really wanted to make the listener feel like they were in the room as gene got triple teamed. Maybe that’s why our label got scared of putting it out.
Man..this song…Jer and i set out to make the most offensive song ever and i think we did pretty well. the whole idea was to take sappy r&b balladry and flip it on it’s ass by making the crooners the most despicable humans alive. this song was rightfully left off the album and , when i was informed of it, i didn’t question it for a second. it’s fucking horrible. but it’s also fucking awesome. on a side note, i’ve played my mom this song. her response was “why did you have to kill her in the end?” fair play to you mom, fair play.
Well, that’s that. I hope you enjoyed that walk down memory lane. I sure did.