Laugh (or not)!
The concept of combining comedy and rap for comedic acts set to rhythm has always worked better on paper than in reality. While mainstream comedic acts like The Lonely Island and “Weird Al” Yankovic can build a steady career thanks to celebrity connections or quirky resilience, most contributions to the comedy rap genre are by standup comics trying to spice up their act or online stars stumbling upon a viral tune. Zach Sherwin is a little of both. He’s contributed to a few of the popular “Epic Rap Battles of History” video series, so Sherwin knows a thing or two about rapping, comedy and the internet.
These key elements form the foundation of Rap!, a sporadic journey into the mind of Sherwin. It’s a mind full of memes, trends and pop culture oddities. The topical nature of album immediately works against Rap! As Sherwin cracks jokes about old Nas songs, and homages to the “Charlie Bit Me” meme already feels dated right out of the gate. Listening to Rap! is like the cool uncle making funny jokes; the wordplay is clever and there’s experience in the tone of the voice, but it’s impossible to shake the out-of-touch vibe that permeates every joke and riddle.
It’s not to say Rap! doesn’t hit the mark on occasion. Once in a blue moon, the joke, rhyme scheme and funky beat all align to provide a minor chuckle. Sherwin shines best when it comes to unique wordplay and word puns. Otherwise, all too often, the long setup only leads to disappointing punchlines.
A quality comedy rap album is a difficult balance of providing the necessary quantity of jokes at a certain quality. Rap! takes too long to hit too few of its jokes. Zach Sherwin might provide laughs through his online videos, but that also has the added benefit of being a few minutes long. There just isn’t enough great content to make Rap! worth it.