8 of the Worst Attempts to Rap by Famous Celebrities
Rap has been around for long enough now that most everyone under the age of, say, 40 has a basic understanding of the genre and the skill it takes to work within it. Not long ago, however, the genre was a newborn fad that everyone and their grandmother tried their hand at. Myriad artists and actors have tried their unqualified hand at it over the years (especially in the ’80s and ’90s), but here are some of the worst attempts.
1. Dee Dee Ramone
Bassist Dee Dee Ramone was the songwriting mastermind behind much of The Ramones’ greatest lyrics, pioneering their simplistic but energetic sound as well as their cheeky, often self-destructive lyricism. Shortly before leaving the band in 1987, however, he turned to rap, releasing an album titled Standing in the Spotlight under the pseudonym Dee Dee King. The recording is hilariously awful, and critic Matt Carlson was right to say that it “will go down in the annals of pop culture as one of the worst recordings of all time,” both for the production and Dee Dee’s misguided attempts to rap. His voice sounds like that of a cartoon moose.
2. Bob Dylan
Though Bob Dylan has shifted between genres many times in his career, the legendary songwriter should never have tried to tackle rap. Thankfully, he rapped for no more than a few minutes as a featured guest on the 1986 Kurtis Blow track “Street Rock.” That was more than enough, as his identifiable nasally rasp sounds ridiculous in this context almost immediately. Robert Zimmerman is a talented man in many ways, but rap was never in his wheelhouse.
3. Rodney Dangerfield
Rodney Dangerfield is an icon in the world of stand-up comedy for his unique style of self-deprecating, collar-tugging humor. The comedian who could never get any respect was one of many early ’80s stars who tried to rap for the purpose of a novelty hit . The resulting song, titled “No Respect,” was predictably hackneyed, featuring his amelodic “rapping” and a legion of female backup singers repeating the song title between every line. The song is essentially a series of rhyming punchlines set to music. That wouldn’t be so bad if the music didn’t sound dated the second the single premiered.
4. The Philadelphia Eagles
That’s right, even sports teams couldn’t escape the ’80s infatuation with ill-conceived rap efforts. The 1988 lineup of the Philadelphia Eagles made a rap video titled “Buddy’s Watchin’ You” to raise money for charity, following in the footsteps of the equally awkward hip-hop hit from the 1985 Chicago Bears “Super Bowl Shuffle.” It may have been bad music, but at least it was for a good cause — even if it couldn’t propel the Eagles to a successful season.
5. Tom Hanks and 6. Dan Akroyd
One of Hollywood’s most respected actors and one of the greatest comic influences of the ’70s and ’80s, Dan Akroyd and Tom Hanks teamed up in 1987 for a comedic film reboot of the TV series Dragnet. For the film’s closing credits, they recorded a rap track called “City of Crime” together and created a video every bit as white as the song itself. Hanks and Akroyd aren’t much for choreography, and the lyricists couldn’t come up with anything better than lines like “Excuse me copper/Mr. crime stopper/What is wrong with what we’re doing?”
7. Shaquille O’Neal
While most of his peers on this list at least had the courtesy to rap only once or twice, former basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal released five studio rap albums and one compilation, including his debut record Shaq Diesel, which went platinum despite not being any good. Shaq has height and charisma to spare, but he simply doesn’t have much in the way of musical talent or “skillz.” Admittedly, his efforts aren’t as cringe-worthy as some others, but we can’t let him get a free pass when his rap contains phrases like this:
Dribble rhymes like Basketball-ems, people call me E.T.
(What’s that Shaq man?)
Extra-Tall ems, you better than Shaq-tack, fool, shut up liar
8. Brian Austin Green
Brian Austin Green is best known for his recurring role on Beverly Hills 90210 as David Silver, whose character began experimenting with DJing and hip-hop music as the series went on. Unfortunately, this mirrored Green’s real-life, and before long he began an attempted career as a rapper under the uber-creative pseudonym Brian Green. He released his album One Stop Carnival in 1996, which was bad if never terrible enough to become truly laughable. The music videos (see above) are more entertaining for their ’90s fashions and overwrought hand gestures. Green admitted that same year that hearing the record was like “when you do your answering-machine message and you say ‘God, I sound weird.'”