Friday, March 19, 2010

Freaknik: The Musical

Yeah. I was there. Freaknik. 1994. I'd just moved to Atlanta after spending most of '93 in the Czech Republic. I was just creeping out of my culture shock and starting to hang out in the city. I'd recently met Skip, who was to become one of my best friends, and he strongly encouraged me to join him at this thing called "Freaknik."

I was 23. I had nothing better to do. I went. Thank God!

After living in a 99.9 percent white country all that time, to see all those young black folks in one place was a revelation. All that ass shaking, all the videotaping, that sister with a snake up her skirt, folks hanging off of porches, all that drinking, all that ... uh ... smoking ("Is that the Chronic? Is that the Chronic?"). I was so--shall we say--"overwhelmed" that I was--let's call it--"exhausted," I was "asleep" by 11 o'clock.

Something that good, black, and, yes, illegal could not last for long. The white folks in Atlanta were pissed! At the time, I just chalked it up to good ole boy racism. "The City That's Too Busy to Hate" is really just too passive-aggressive to actually show that hate. They use their campaign contributions to hold their Vanilla Sway over Chocolate City Lite.

(Of course, I later amended this ... a little. After all, those porches all those students were hanging off of were private residences that they just took over. But still ...)

In '95, Piedmont Park was off-limits. And Freaknik became a great, big College Cruise through downtown Atlanta. Soon after that, Freaknik was dead.

So, when Triple T told me there was a new cartoon series on Adult Swim about Freaknik and that it was a lot like Boondocks, I was intrigued. I looked into it and saw that the cast includes Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Big Boi, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, and George Clinton and Bootsy Collins, I was on that mess like government cheese on your colon.

But, while watching it, I got this strange sense of deja vu that left me pretty damned flat. It was the same feeling I got when watching Undercover Brother--through joke after joke harking back to the old Blaxploitation movies of the '70s, I kept thinking, "Wait, doesn't I'm Gonna Get You Sucka already exist?" Freaknik: The Musical isn't like Boondocks, it's basically ripping off Boondocks.

The show is just a retread, and, of course, isn't as good as the original rubber that has been fucking with our minds since Aaron McGruder got national syndication with his comic strip. Lord knows, black folks are funny, and we do a lot of shit that we can make fun of (NOTE: I said we). I don't understand why Freaknik just mines the exact same ground that Boondocks already has.

OK, first, they make fun of Kid 'N' Play. Didn't folks do that, like, 20 years ago?

They stole the idea of preppy rappers from Fear of a Black Hat and added a special twist of homophobia thrown in to, I guess, "keep it real."

Having the Boulé being the secret organization ruling over black life could've been funny. And the fact that the Boulé was Oprah, Cos, Reverend Al, Jesse, and Russell Simmons was also good. But all it was was the Black Intelligentsia that had Tracy Morgan on the run on 30 Rock. And those scenes must've been stolen whole-heartedly from the Boondocks' banned BET episodes. They even turned Rev. Al into, of all things, Robocop.

Lil' Wayne's Trap Jesus episode was the only bright spot. Our heroes roll into New Orleans during the day, when someone says, "I thought the sun never shined in the ghetto." A "gangsta" Moon immediately appears and caps the sun. And having a drug-selling Messiah who's been wanting to sell drugs since he was nine-years-old was pretty damned funny.

The rest of the series, though, is an utter waste of time. Borrowed irreverence just falls flat. You feel like you've been through all this before. The press material's talking about how it took T Pain two years to make Freaknik come about. I guess it just took him that long to rip off all the material he used to "compose" these episodes.

I guess that's what you get when your DVR doesn't have enough memory. And Freaknik: The Musical is what you get when rappers and musicians think they're actually writers.

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