Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"Rappin' Rodney" by Rodney Dangerfield

Song#:  1710
Date:  12/03/1983
Debut:  95
Peak:  83
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Rap, Comedy, Novelty

Pop Bits:  Jacob Rodney Cohen, aka Rodney Dangerfield, started writing comedy material as a teenager and by the age of 19 he was trying to make a go of it as a comedian. Billed as Jack Roy, Dangerfield spent years in obscurity not getting anywhere. For a while, he even quit showbiz completely. He eventually returned, but success still eluded him. He figured out what he needed was a stage persona that an audience could relate to and Rodney Dangerfield was born. He began to get noticed and finally his big break came when in 1967 he appeared as a replacement performer on The Ed Sullivan Show. After that, his career took off. He built his own club in NYC, Dangerfields (which still exists), became a fixture on talk shows, and appeared in films and other TV programs. The 80s were a peak time for Dangerfield. His 1980 comedy album No Respect won a Grammy and he appeared in the hit movies Caddyshack and Back to School. Somehow along the way, the idea of Rodney doing a rap came about as a way to promote/enhance his next album. Put together with J.B. Moore and Robert Ford, Jr. (the duo behind Kurtis Blow's classic debut album), the trio came up with this comedy/novelty track that would be issued as a single and serve as the title of Dangerfield's album. Although the song didn't get very far, it did spend a couple months roaming the bottom of the chart thanks in part to an accompanying video that was popular on MTV. It would help make the album Dangerfield's best charting (#36) and boost his appeal to a younger audience who may not have been familiar with the 62-year-old comedian. Dangerfield remained popular until his death in 2004.

ReduxReview:  I should hate this "song", but I just can't. It's really nothing that I'd want to hear on record, but when paired with the video I get a kick out of it. I've always liked these older Borscht Belt-style comedians with their quick one-liners and Dangerfield always seemed to have some good ones. Many of his famous lines are included in the song. He was always a great guest on the chat shows and he is hard to resist in Caddyshack and Back to School. The song is not as horrible as some comedy/novelty ones of the decade, but the video did make a difference. Plus, the fact that top-notch rap producers were in on the gig certainly helped. Not great, but I do have to show a little respect.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Early in is career when he was billed as Jack Roy, Dangerfield had his name legally changed to that moniker. After he developed the Dangerfield character, he still retained Jack Roy as his legal name.  2) The name Rodney Dangerfield stems from a name used by comedian Jack Benny on his radio program in the early 40's. Benny's Dangerfield was a fake cowboy that had trouble getting the attention and respect of others. That name and character inspired the then-Jack Roy to develop his Rodney Dangerfield persona. The name was also used early on by Ricky Nelson in the 50's TV series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. There was a time on the show when Nelson used the name as a pseudonym.  3) The video for this song features a couple of cameos. One is by SNL character Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello) who eats Dangerfield's "last meal" and the other is by Pat Benatar who portrays the executioner.



  1. Knowing your disdain for novelty singles, I was pleasantly surprised by seeing a '5' attached to this tune. It obviously was meant as nothing more than a way to reap in some bucks for, and off of, Dangerfield, but I really enjoyed the song. Hopefully you'll be as generous when you hit my favorite novelty song of the 80s - a "marvelous" song by Billy Crystal.

    1. Yeah, with a minor few exceptions I have a low tolerance level for novelty records (although I have a soft spot for several from the 60s). I liked Dangerfield and that certainly helped here.