Netflix’s Anything-Goes Philosophy Gets to Parody Rap

After surprising Super Bowl 2018 witness with an ad announced today that sci-fi movie The Cloverfield Paradox would be arriving imminently, Netflix chose not to make a garb of similar attacks. Instead, it left that practice to the musicians. Beyonce, Frank Ocean, Eminem, Death Grips, Drake, and Beyonce again( this time as half of The Carters) have all leveraged the factory-free nature of the stream manufacture in recent years to release recordings with little to no advanced warning.

Well, Netflix seems to be warming up again. In April, its partnership with horror studio Blumhouse Make spawned two separate cinematic jump-scares, Mercy Black and Thriller . Earlier this month, Chinese sci-fi blockbuster The Wandering Earth snuck onto the platform with nary a US trailer or official acknowledgment. Each starts sense in its course; category devotees were likely likely to find the strangers in their intimated new releases, simply by virtue of their viewing habits.

What &# x27; s a little less obvious is who, accurately, would find out about The Lonely Island &# x27; s The Unauthorized Bash Friend Experience , which territory on Netflix late Wednesday night. The humor trio &# x27; s Lemonade -style “visual poem” crams 11 short-lived carols into 30 minutes–all about, and in the masquerade of, late-’8 0s baseball celebrities and steroid sign children Jose Canseco( Andy Samberg) and Mark McGwire( Akiva Shaffer) of the Oakland A &# x27; s. Like most of Lonely Island &# x27; s musical oeuvre, it &# x27; s rap and R& B. Or skit hip-hop and R& B. Or somewhere between the two.

Admittedly, I &# x27; m the second L in the bullseye at the center of The Unauthorized Bash Friend Experience &# x27; s intended audience. Like TLI, I &# x27; m an ’8 0s kid, lodged in the forgotten years between Generation X and the millennials; like TLI, I grew up with rap as my personal dominant ethnic word. Back then, I cherished baseball and vividly remember watching the Bash Friend overpower my beloved Red Sox to progress to the 1988 World Series. Living in Oakland completes the Ideal Viewer trifecta. Every reference to Hilltop Mall, every mention of gated outskirt Blackhawk( where Canseco actually lived) or hard-R slang drop or drone shot of Oakland &# x27; s Lake Merritt feels like a personal shout-out.

Even rectifying those personal diplomata/ disappoints aside, TUBBE steers its core longings deftly, trimming through a ocean of steroid jokes and forearm high fives with a heaping spoonful of nihilism.( If you &# x27; re believing “Lazy Sunday, ” you earned &# x27; t get wise; this is more “Space Olympics” than “I &# x27; m On a Boat.”) The Lonely Island &# x27; s success has always depended on specificity, surrealism, and straight faces, and all three are well represented here. The 808 -anchored Beastie Boys tribute “Uniform On” turns on a dime, devolving from Alf references to a nightmarish roid-rage fantasia of self-mutilation. On “IHOP Parking Lot, ” an homage to Janet Jackson &# x27; s “Nasty Boy” turns into a battle of the sexes by way of Shirley Jackson, a quintet of women–which includes Maya Rudolph and stone sister-trio Haim–chanting “shake that butt” with ominous, dead-eyed insistence.

I &# x27; m just going to say it: The Lonely Island has always been underrated as songwriters. While white-hot jesters sounding hip-hop for punchlines tends to feel grossly sardonic, Samberg and Shaffer–along with third Islander Jorma Taccone, who shows up sparingly here–obviously grew up listening to it in Oakland-adjacent Berkeley and over occasion have turned in more-than-competent distillations of Nice and Smooth and Bay Area legend E-4 0( who ten years ago gave his considerable aptitudes to the working group &# x27; s “Santana DVX” ). The culture for them is a premise , not a punchline–a distinction missing for Samberg &# x27; s SNL -mate Chris Parnell, who always seemed to think that a doofy lily-white guy rapping hard-handed is intrinsically funny. That comes through here in anthems like the bouncy, synth-drenched “Let &# x27; s Bash, ” a hyphy ode that works in everything from Dru Down-style vocal prospers to Norcal-specific A Tribe Called Quest references( “I left my steroids in El Sobrante” ).

Over time, The Lonely Island &# x27; s ear has been joined by a keen appreciation of dada and its limits. The troupe helped create Hulu sitcom PEN1 5 and Netflix sketch sequence I Reckon You Should Leave With Tim Robinson , two of the past year &# x27; s most compelling–and combative–comedy campaigns. All three are less disorienting than Adult Swim &# x27; s live-action evidences but still more challenging than Comedy Central &# x27; s anodyne recent yield: a just-right blend of WTF and LOL that &# x27; s helped streaming humor feel surprisingly healthy. In fact, TUBBE &# x27; s biggest stumble comes when that dada becomes very far-off, its gestures to Lemonade &# x27; s interstitial poetry demonstrating so comically pompous as to feel mean-spirited–a quality that Samberg has always scaped, even when he &# x27; s belief to be mean. Bashing, it seems, has its limits.

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