Tuesday, April 30, 2013

True Hollywood Story 1: The Dick Towel Saga

It was 2009 and I was living in the guest room at my parent’s house. My girlfriend could drink more than me and I didn’t have a job. I got a call or an email or some shit from my buddy Mike Westbrook aka Baby Man. Baby Man is/was the non-bearded half of epic dance rap sensationalists Kerbloki. He had moved to NY to make music for high-end car commercials and things of that nature and I had moved in with my parents because I had just got back from “touring” (aka smoking weed in Europe with Subtitle) for 6 weeks. I was 30 years old.

Mike was calling with a proposition. For the sake of brevity, I will assume that most of you know the show ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’. There is an episode where ‘the Gang’ invents products for a merchandising convention and then maybe they sell them at the bar or whatever. This episode essentially centers around the creation of the Dick Towel.

The Dick Towel has 3 ‘illustrated’ panels on it, side by side down the length of it. The one in the center is a drawing of ass cheeks and legs, the idea being that you tie your towel around your waist like a guy in a disposable razor commercial and the butt and legs pictured on the back are yours, i.e., you don’t have a towel on because look, there you are, with your dimply ass hanging out. Now, on either side of the butt/legs combo is a full male frontal. On one side you have a dick hung like a loaf of provolone. On the other side you got more balls than dick, referred to on the show as ‘the tiny bird’. So you get to pick which one you want to present as you cover up with the towel, whichever one you don’t want goes behind the other in the classic locker room wrap job. You now look cartoonishly naked as you sport the Dick Towel.

They had a Youtube video that was a commercial for it and a website ... pretty much they were selling Dick Towels. Or at least they wanted to. In real life, not on the show. I think they wanted it to be a fad for a bit so they could bring in some extra cash flow and help promote the show and maybe compete with the Snuggie on some ironic level, who knows. But they wanted a theme song. And someone who worked for the show knew Mike. And knew his music. And asked him to make one. Score.

So now you got the skeleton of the story. Mike and I start working on the song. Mike sends me a beat. I think we agree that both of us will rap but that I will just go ahead and write all the lyrics. I write in the style of some back and forth tag team action and bang out 2 verses and a hook. I keep it funny but lyrical, and basically kill it like I always do. I record a demo, rapping in 2 different voices: one that is basically my standard nasal delivery, and one that is more of a husky, gruff sounding guy, like Akinyele or Party Arty, so that there is an obvious difference between the MCs and Mike can tell one part from the other. I send it to him and cross my fingers.

He digs it. We start receiving positive feedback (apparently) and essentially begin stroking each other off about how awesome we are as we speculate on all the possibilities that could come from this project. Like, how are they gonna represent the track? Are they gonna shoot a video? Will we get to be in it? Will we get to be on the show?!?! Maybe play ourselves as a hip hop act that Mac hires to write a song for him?! Maybe we can act like dumb white rappers in the spirit of ANY SHOW that has a white rapper character on it?!? I seriously think at one point that Mike said they told him that they were gonna do a video for it and the guys on the show were gonna lip sync to it. Fuck, all I knew is that I was pumped and we began working on a finished version of the song.

We are doing this all via email because Mike was still in New York. And I am recording myself rapping in my parents' garage because I don’t want them to hear me in the house yelling “You want dick? Well, we got dick! We got so much dick it will make you sick!” at the top of my lungs. Even though my parents don’t care about cuss words and sex talk and whatnot, they don’t really understand my ‘career’ at all, and plus, anyone (especially an MC) who has ever recorded vocals with either a shared-wall neighbor or a friend in the other room knows that it sounds crazy when the other person can’t hear any of the musical context and just hears you shouting random lyrics into the void about your ex-girlfriend and drugs and how good your abs look in the right lighting.

Mike works on his mix and I start tightening up the lyrics and delivery. Mike decides that he is not going to rap, and that I should just do both parts, but still punching in on myself like I am two people, even though he also suggests that I don’t do two different voices. I get it down tight and bring my girlfriend in on the action because I need to have a lady for a couple of the lines, such as “It feels so good having a dick for a day.” The whole process takes a little time, and we keep getting assured from our contact at the show that everything is moving forward. I feel like there was even a “The guys love it!” in regards to the dudes on the show, but I can’t remember, I’ve been drunk every day since 2007.

As we are nearing the end of our process, Mike hits me up with a disheartening call. Yeti Beats, a producer who works quite a bit with none other than Kool Keith (practically a hero to me and arguably a major influence on my style), has got wind of the project and expressed interest in him and Keith doing the song. I would like to mention here that Mike and I are doing this shit strictly Sonny Bono and that there is no way I can believe that someone like Kool Keith, let alone Yeti, is going to do it for free. But they have celebrity status (even if it’s fringe celebrity status) and we are worried that after all this hard work, we are about to get snaked.

In another strange twist of fate, I would be opening for Kool Keith at a well-known music venue in the not-so-distant future.

We try to stay positive but our fears are confirmed when we are told that we are off the project. We have been working on the song for almost a month at this point.

Fast forward to about a month later. Kool Keith has finished his song and they have even shot an official video for it. Despite the fact that Kool Keith is a really awesome rapper in his weird and special way, I am doubtful that he can actually take a specific topic and write a relevant song about it, rather, I anticipate tons of awkward references, slang, and goofiness that will only be able to be embraced by Kool Keith fans. I know that what Mike and I did HAS to be better. But Hollywood is fucking Hollywood and that’s the way the cocaine crumbles.

Then I find out that the Kool Keith Dick Towel video is going to drop the day after I perform with him.

At the gig, I made attempts to talk to Keith. The conversations were boring. I was hoping for some great stories to tell about hanging with him, but it was mostly uneventful. There was one awesome moment that seemed like what you would hope for when talking to him: I am backstage with Keith’s crew and have been offered some of the Grey Goose that was in their rider. Keith is standing next to me and repeatedly offers me orange juice to mix it with, but no matter how hard I look, I don’t see any. If you are familiar with his catalog you will know that he has a lot of weird food lyrics, and definitely talks about juice and milk a lot. I get kinda hype that he keeps talking about mythical orange juice! But then later I find it, it was just on the floor in a paper bag by my foot. I guess he knew it was there. Other than that, he talked to me about satellite radio. He wanted to know if people down here were into it. I told him one of my favorite songs of his, and he didn’t remember the lyrics, even as I prompted him by rapping it. At the end of the night, he had a groupie make him a drink and then immediately passed out. I had more fun talking to his sidekick, Mark, who you may have seen on that show with Ice T and the butt he married.

Regardless, I did not have the sack to confront him about the Dick Towel scandal. I did, however, become buddies with his manager. He got hype on my style and we even texted a few times on some business level shit. I sent him some music. I never heard back. Anyway, I did ask him about the Dick Towel song and video and explained how the whole thing had gone down. He had no idea what I was talking about. Not a clue. Never heard a thing. Maybe he had never even heard of the show but I am just saying that because it makes for a better story, I can’t remember, I’ve been stoned every day since 1994.

Keith plays a sloppy, uninspired set. Knowing that I did a better job, and was told that by many people in attendance, is no victory. As a fan I wanted to see him kill it, despite any bad blood about my missed opportunity.

The next day I watch the video. It isn’t good. It’s mildly entertaining and goofy but nothing special. The song is the weak tripe Kool Keith can churn out like nobody else. He probably wrote it in five minutes at the airport. The only thing that I really dug about it is that he rhymes ‘Dick Towel’ with ‘Colin Powell’ which I think is hilarious and kinda genius.

But the weirdest part is this. I go to Los Angeles a few weeks later and hang with my friend Andy who has moved out there from NC. One of his roommates works as a personal assistant to some of the stars of ‘It’s Always Sunny’. In fact, this guy may have been one of the first people ever, if not THE FIRST, to wear a ‘Green Man’ suit like the one featured on the show at a sporting event. This guy borrowed the actual suit from the show and wore it at a Dodgers game or something and was dancing in the stands in it and was on TV and the jumbotron and shit, I think he was even on the local news. He ended up getting escorted out. So Andy tells this guy my sob story and assures me that his buddy is going to ask them about it. When Andy gets back to me, he tells me that, according to his friend, nobody has any idea what I am talking about. I had sent Andy the song and everything. He almost has a tinge of sounding skeptical about what I am telling him even happening. Says his friend swears that everyone he asked was not familiar with our song at all. Rad. A perfect epilogue to my story about how something cool almost happened to me.


Anonymous said...

bless your little heart

Anonymous said...

This is a great story. I love this kinda metafiction. David Foster Wallace and Hunter S. are laughing over this shit together somewhere. Can you get stoned or drunk in Heaven?

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