The first time I heard Cut Chemist's new single, "Outro (Revisited),"* I resisted it, because it sounded too much like Rage Against the Machine or one of those rap-metal meet-and-greets from the 1990s, like Anthrax and Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise" revamp—or the entirety of the Judgment Night soundtrack.
In other words, it didn't sound bad so much as dated—I enjoyed that 1991 Anthrax/PE tour—but I've listened a few more times, and it's grown on me. The Corey Brandenstein-directed video below sealed the deal. Not because it's the greatest thing I've ever seen, but because I love clips and films in which the front person or protagonist never stops moving. (Yes, I like Running Man! Who doesn't?) In this case, emcee Blackbird straps on some stylin' kicks, and gets to it.
*The press notes don't mention it, but the original "Outro" appears on Blackbird's Bird's Eye View.
If a track already has a propulsive feel, that sort of visual really brings it home. This isn't the best example, because the song is a moodier proposition, but UNKLE's "Rabbit in Your Headlight" is the first one that springs to mind (Radiohead's Thom Yorke provides the bummed-out vocal). In it, oddball French actor Denis Lavant spends the entire time bobbing and weaving through traffic in a UK tunnel. Is there a message here about the long-simmering tensions between the British and the French? (I certainly picked up on that when I lived in London.) Or is the dude just a nutter? Who knows, but once you've seen it...you can't un-see it.
If you caught Leo Carax's Mauvais Sang ("Bad Blood"), in which Lavant shuffles, leaps, and hand-springs in time with David Bowie's "Modern Love," you can see where Jonathan Glazer got the idea—yes, the same guy who directed Sexy Beast...for which UNKLE mastermind James Lavelle provided the score.
My favorite Claire Denis film, Beau Travail, also features a fabulous Lavant dance, one of the most cathartic sequences set to celluloid—this was the pre-digital era—particularly in light of the unexpressed desire that leads up to it.
To return to that Running Man reference, here's a techno track that pivots on a Damon Killian sample from the 1987 actioner (in retrospect, Killian's ringleader anticipates Caesar Flickman in The Hunger Games). If you grew up on Family Feud, like I did, then I can only assume you were equally thrilled by Richard Dawson's participation in the scenario. Remember how the unctuous Brit used to get all handsy and downright slobbery with the show's contestants? It was kind of creepy, so this Paul Michael Glaser joint gave him the chance to get his creep on in a big way. It's how I'll always remember him—putting Arnie though his paces.
"Outro (Revisited)" is out now through iTunes. Cut Chemist is currently working on Die Cut, the follow-up to his 2006 solo debut, The Audience's Listening. As on the single, the record features contributions from drummer Deantoni Parks (Mars Volta, John Cale) and bass player Lonnie Marshall (Weapon Of Choice).
And in case you can't get enough running rappers, peep this Ego Trip Top 10.