Global pandemics. Police brutality. War-mongering North Korea. The advance of ISIS across international lines. Kidnappings.TERRORISM. We live in serious times, with a lot of serious issues, and the world is less safe now than it ever was. A drone attack could take you out walking out your front door. Russia could intentionally start a third world war. Hackers could steal everything you’ve worked your whole life for.
“Herp Derp Ya Don’t Sterp” isn’t about ANY OF THAT.
Hip-Hop needs more emcees who are willing to talk about the problems of the world today, but it also needs some comic relief when all of those problems start to feel overwhelming. When you want to pack it in and say “There’s no hope, it’s too much, I GIVE UP” there’s Devo Spice. The New Jersey emcee has been lightening the mood in rap since the early 1990’s, never afraid to make fun of the hits of the day (turning Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life” into “Star Trek Life” for example), or poke fun at himself. Even though he’s a family man these days, that only adds to the fun. After all only someone who sat through a marathon of MLP with little tykes could bake up a song like “CUPCAKES!”
The title of “Herp Derp Ya Don’t Sterp” is a pop culture reference to an internet meme from a few years ago that is in itself spun off from another meme that came before it, which is just how things go in this whacky internet age of ours. It also reflects the fact that in said same age, anything and everything is ripe for parody, even hip-hop hits that are a couple of years old (or more). To that end I present “Snack Bar,” a nearly dead on audio send-up of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop.”
Other songs are just absurd for the sake of absurdity and defy explanation, such as “There’s a Platypus Controlling Me,” which just happens to benefit from having one of the album’s best beats. Even the people who chime in on the hook try to make sense out of the song title, claiming it’s a metaphor for “the man” or “society,” only for a slightly exasperated Spice to note that in fact there’s a LITERAL platypus controlling him – only it just disappeared! Now he can’t prove it.Spice says it was directly inspired by this Disney cartoon.
The best comedy comes from Spice taking an awful meme song like Rebecca Black’s “Friday” and turning it into a tribute to everybody’s favorite serial killer – Jason Vorhees.
Production has at times been hit or miss on Spice’s albums, which is the downfall of being a gifted comedian and wordsmith – spending the time to be funny comes first. Devo is firing with both barrels for most of this album though, and even when the parody doesn’t get too close to the original version, it’s a respectable effort such as the epic eight minute long “Paywutchyalike” – a send-up of Digital Underground and today’s “everything is free” attitude (hopefully you pay for your copy of “Herp Derp” instead of bootlegging). Every now and then amongst the comedy you can find something accidentally serious – the lighthearted “In the 80s” comes across as a genuine condemnation of the modern rap and TV scene, all with a chorus that’s a direct spoof of Bruce Springsteen.
I’m not going to advocate that you should put on blinders and pretend that the real problems of the world we’re living in today don’t exist, but “Herp Derp Ya Don’t Sterp” is a fun escape for at least an hour that will make you laugh and smile for a little while. Even a song with a seemingly serious title like “Tone Loc Gets Arrested for Domestic Battery” turn out to be comedy, as Spice does a gravelly Tone-Loc impression and lampoons the way that former celebrities seem to wind up as TMZ headlines. It’s all in good fun as long as Spice doesn’t mind if somebody gives him the same treatment in 10 or 20 years – but if I know him (and I kinda do) he’d just take it as sincere flattery.