Almost two weeks after I saw the thing, I’m still remembering Kanye West ripping and flowing over the friendly competition on Nick Cannon Presents Wild ‘N Out.
For some reason I haven’t, yet, set my remote to skip past MTV so I flipped and saw a group of mostly black men and women coming to the end of acting out … something. Everyone else, dressed in long black, white or red Jersey shirts and “whickity-wack” skewed caps, casually sat in lawn chairs.
Someone won a point – graphically popped on screen as a microphone tally – as the Red and Black teams squared off on the circular, low stage.
The vibe was good, so I stopped. Good enough where I sat through the immediate commercial. Nick “Feeling’ Freaky” Cannon‘s doing what now?
Coming back from commercial, I turned the volume back up and one of the guys on stage announced “The Hating Game. Two men – for laughs – tried out their best come-to-me, pick-up lines. The idea being the men didn’t want nothing to do with trying to win the woman’s heart – I think Christina Milian in this case.
I didn’t know who they were, but one was putting in a seriously smooth freestyle rhyme. Found out later in the show that was Kanye West.
The group on stage was a multi-cast, multicultural set, though I didn’t see that at first. I can’t honestly say any comparisons came to mind as I watched – not In Living Color or Whose Line Is it Anyway. I think I was still in deep shock that something was worth watching on MTV (aka Mind Thought Vacuum).
Each team acted out whatever interpretation and scratch-spin they wanted to put on Pinocchio and Robin Hood. In a “Fractured Fairytales” vein – set in the projects – they developed plot and roles. I haven’t seen it since then, and remember I may have been suffering some sort of Post-Traumatic MTV Disorder, but it was improv and lathered up hard. It was fresh.
I just looked the program up yesterday as talk of Kanye West lightly filtered through my consciousness. It seems I had watched, episode 4.
I really sat up, I think literally, before doubling over in laughter as they two teams took on, “Wildstyle” a slightly less combative version of “The Dozens”
One at a time – one-on-one – they all cracked on each other appearances, race, features, clothes and rep. Low-browed, but on the spur and not always simple. You had to have been paying attention to who some of these people really were to get it. I wasn’t quite paying that much attention and didn’t recognize anyone else except India Arie.
Kanye takes the brunt at first – called “Jay-Z’s bitch” and told that he wouldn’t be nothing without sampling. His bright pearly whites just grin back until he lets fly with what must have been 90 seconds of straight signifying. (Video here, look for “Kayne Rips the Red Team”)
This show was an amazing surprise. On Thurdays at 10 p.m., Ima tune in, to the show MTV describes, thusly:
Every episode, it’s Nick vs. a new A-list celebrity, as each leads their own team of improv comedians in an attempt to come out on top in a variety of ridiculous comic throwdowns. Traditional improv games get a hip-hop twist as Nick and our troupe of regulars rip through the headlines–and each others’ reputations. It all culminates in a freestyle comedy battle to decide who wins fame and who goes home in shame.