Yesterday, comedian Aziz Ansari dropped a little gem from his forthcoming mixtape collaboration with TV On The Radio‘s Dave Sitek entitled “Aaaaaaaangry (with eight A’s).”
Rather, it’s an almost-gem. Ansari’s rhymes are surprisingly solid and flow with ease thanks to his delivery.Â The production is sweet, as Sitek has proven to have one great ear for a great tune that’s only grown with each diverse production challenge he’s taken on. (Seriously, who else could work with Scarlett Johansson, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Wale and retain the kind of aura as Sitek?)
And yet, the track fumbles a potentially brilliant tune.
The song’s fatal error occurs in the first five seconds of the jam, when Ansari drops this brief little message:
Yo, what’s up? It’s your boy Randy with eight A’s, aka Aziz Ansari.
What’s the problem there? Ansari dropped character the instant the song began, revealing the mock situation trustily.
The new mixtape will be released under Ansari’s fake-comic pseudonym, Raaaaaaaandy. Ansari created Raaaaaaaandy for Judd Apatow’s 2009 flick, Funny People, as something of a worst-case-scenario-standup-comedian. Ansari’s character was loud, obnoxious, told terrible jokes with seemingly zero punchline and punctuated nearly every sentence with boisterous shouting and idiotic plays to the crowd. And in Funny People, the crowd ate it up. And, within the context of the film, the world of the comedian, Ansari’s character was simply hilarious. Ansari ate up his short time on-screen, not only because his character held delusions-of-comedic-grandeur inflated by the crowds at comedy clubs, but because Ansari performed the role with such dedication and sincerity.
And so, on “Aaaaaaaangy,” Ansari committed the one error he shouldn’t have: Revealing his true nature. True, anyone familiar with Ansari’s work or potentially interested in the mixtape knows that Raaaaaaaandy is just a character. But revealing his true identity within the confines of the work he produced under his pseudonym removes all the aura of the track and character. There’s a reason rappers like DOOM manage to build a following around their namesake and character, and it’s not because they drop their real names in the middle of the act.
Ansari’s Raaaaaaaandy is the kind of realized character that Stephen Colbert’s self-fulfilling characterization of himself on “Colbert Report” is, though to a much smaller level. Both Colbert and Ansari created these likenesses of themselves for a project, and then carried it beyond that initial step. Colbert managed to mold that image into an ongoing show: Ansari built a website with a three-part documentary dedicated to his character, not to mention the upcoming mixtape. Both characters exist in a sensationalist reality, one where their boisterous, full-of-themselves characters are caricatures of people one can find in the real world and one would hope to ignore. Yet their outright mocking of those individuals through an act has managed to build a cultish status around each character (to varying degrees), making them more beloved than the individuals Ansari and Colbert were mocking in the first place (at least, among certain groups).
The difference between Colbert and Ansari and their characters unfortunately came down to those first five seconds of “Aaaaaaaangy.” The rest of the track is quite funny, with Ansari calling out nearly every reputable popular rapper, perfectly balancing Raaaaaaaandy’s boisterousness and narcissism with the kind of rhymes that sound hilarious delivered by that character. Yet, I can’t help but feel a little cheated when Ansari reveals his true voice at the start of the track. Rather than delivering a hilarious song in character, Ansari dropped the curtain, and the results sound a bit awkward with that knowledge right up front.
You can download “Aaaaaaaangry” here and here, and get more information from Ansari’s site.