Sometimes it's hard to disassociate rap music with the masculine bravado and gang culture that's defined it for decades, but the genre is clawing itself from the mire of toxic masculinity to become more diverse and eclectic. Progress is glacial.
Rap's current packaging is even more jarring when looking at the prototypes that helped sire the artform. Comedian Rudy Ray Moore's Dolemite character is generally cited as one of the earliest MC archetypes. Dropping braggadocious one-liners and fantastical anecdotes over a consistently pulsing drumbeat, Moore's Dolemite proves that the genre's origins and fundamental tropes are more comedic than criminal. The trend continued with early rappers like The Fat Boys and Biz Markie, and it wasn't until the late 80s that rap began to fully shed its jocular persona. The DNA is still there, though. For example, the term punchline is still used in rap vernacular and is prized as a hallmark of quality lyricism.
That's why the video linked above tickles me. In its era, Rappin' Rodney was a modest hit-reaching number 83 on the Billboard charts- but was most likely viewed by hip-hop loyalists as the mainstream attempting to cash in on the "rap fad." In modernity, Rappin' Rodney speaks to the ancestral, comedic DNA that's forever embedded in hip-hop. The song's visibility and success was ironically instrumental in rap music solidifying itself as a viable genre in many ways. Who knew Rodney Dangerfield would be one of the most important MCs of all time?