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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Hip Hop goes satirical
Soon Hey, Matty Boom and Gay Jamie
The Trilambs are hoping to change rap's image
By entertainment correspondent Peter Bowes in Los Angeles

A new rap group in Los Angeles is threatening to shake-up the sometimes serious world of hip hop music.

The Trilambs' debut album pokes fun at hard core rappers and dishes up a satirical twist on pop culture.

The 15-member ensemble has pledged to breath new life into hip hop by getting it to lighten up.

Their new album, It Wasn't Not Funny, includes skits on rap culture and a satirical take on anti-gay lyrics.

Frontman Matty Boom says their innovative style stems from a long-standing appreciation of the music.

"We loved it from day one and so we're always talking about hip hop - but we got fed up of it after a while.

Gay Jamie
Gay Jamie rebels against homophobia
"We couldn't listen to it any more - there was just nothing on the radio that spoke to us, nothing on albums that spoke to us and we were like, lets bring it back to what we loved about it - but add ourselves into it at the same time."

The band's other lead member is Soon Hey, the grandson of legendary producer Quincy Jones.

"The thing about rap is it is so serious but it's so absurd, you know," he says. "It's beautiful, it's an art form that they can do that with a straight face and be so out and crazy."

Supporting band members include Ry Cooder's son DJ Cood-Stank and their most popular character, Gay Jamie - sometimes known as Captain Girl.

As an openly gay performer, Jamie plays a pivotal role in the band's rebellion against rap's traditional tendency towards homophobia.

"I think rap is like a very personal thing - everyone talks and they sing about their experience and I just couldn't not sing about my own experience," he explains.

Frontman Matty Boom
Boom and the band take a dig at lavish rap culture
"Everyone's too afraid to talk about the sex of gay rap. It's like it's a big secret.

"They're all nervous that it's still taboo. I don't know what they're afraid of," he adds.

Jamie believes the band offers young people an alternative to the stereotypical images of gay people on TV shows.

"When I watch Will and Grace, that's all they know. I can give them a whole other thing," he says.

One of the gay themed tracks on the album is a reworked version of the Pet Shop Boys' West End Girls. On the surface, the lyrics appear to be as offensive to homosexuals as those produced on the CDs of hard-core rappers.

But Boom explains that their songs, which poke fun at gay lifestyles, are all meant in jest.

"We're not a gay group we just happen to have a gay guy. Just like the world we live in."

Gay Jamie adds: "There's nothing left that gays haven't been a part of - like films and Broadway and pop music. You've got to do the whole rap thing - people still need to be educated."

The Trilambs extend their merciless satire to almost every aspect of life - from dysfunctional relationships to absurd parties and messy relationship break-ups.

One of Madonna's biggest hits is used as the theme for a sideways look at sex.


Rappers always talk about, I got this, I got that and they objectify the whole world and make it their own

Matty Boom
"Borderline was like the love-song," says Boom. "All the rappers always sing about, 'Oh, I got all the bitches and I got no problems with love all I've got to do is walk in a club and I can have sex with any woman I want.'

"We're saying that it's really not that easy. It's a truth about relationships and about the grey area of love, how it's not always about 'I've got money, I'm cool.' Sometimes you get hurt," he explains.

The band is hoping to to snowball satirical hip hop as a new musical genre. It has already developed a loyal following in Los Angeles where it recently performed at the famous Viper Room club to a sell-out audience.

Perhaps the most pointed dig at rap culture and the lavish lifestyle of some of its biggest stars, comes on the track, What You Got.

"Rappers always talk about, I got this, I got that and they objectify the whole world and make it their own and sort of claim all of these objects," says Boom.

"Like, 'I've got gold chains.' We're making fun of that. We're saying 'I got chickens I got guns.'

"We're just picking random things you see in the world and say these define us as people and it just doesn't make any sense. It's complete absurdity."

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Peter Bowes
"They want to breathe new life into hip hop"
See also:

15 Jun 01 | Music
Rap's maturity 20 years on
14 Mar 01 | Entertainment
US music fans prefer rap to country
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