The 5 Greatest Moments in Freddy Krueger's Music Video
Back in the blood-curdling year of 1988, Freddy Krueger made a guest appearance on the Fat Boys' single "Are You Ready for Freddy," recorded for the Nightmare on Elm Street 4 soundtrack, because as the 1980s were winding down Freddy seemed to be going out of his way to embarrass himself.
Whatever is standing in front of that house seems to be much more terrifying than Freddy anyway.
For those of you born recently enough to have entirely different impressions of the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Die Hard franchises, the Fat Boys were a trio of rappers approaching the height of their popularity and steadily becoming Fat Men, despite only having one truly fat member (who didn't actually rap). "One Guy Whose Continued Existence Is in Serious Jeopardy and Two Other Dudes Who Could Stand to Lose Some Weight" was presumably too long to be condensed into a rhymeable acronym, however, and they weren't trying to reinvent the wheel. They just wanted to invigorate the music industry with some tubby hijinks.
Since much of the Fat Boys' success was related to their appearance (although Prince Markie Dee and Kool Rock Ski are perfectly good rappers), and since they looked like a bunch of kids wearing Halloween costumes, somebody at New Line Cinema figured that tossing them into a video with Freddy Krueger would be the best way to promote the latest bone-chilling installment in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The end result is a spooktacular bootique of questionable decisions that reduces Freddy to a variety show host playing hide-and-seek with his rapping nephews.
It Begins With a Two-Minute Vaudevillian Comedy Routine
The video begins, and we are treated to a half-minute character study of the stuffiest old white man in the history of popular rap. He shakily paces back and forth on a cane in front of a haunted house, as if the ghosts hired him on a permanent retainer to frighten neighborhood children away from the begonias. That's not an exaggeration, either -- Merrimen C. Dandysuit shuffles confusedly around for a full 25 seconds like an abandoned grandfather waiting for the shuttle back to Disney World. He even checks his watch at one point to see how long this rhapsody has been going on, as if he can hear our thoughts.
Finally, the Fat Boys arrive, rolling up astride a fleet of electric scooters, because they could see into Walmart's future.
The corpulent trio hip-hop off of their motorized stallions and launch into a patiently rehearsed comedy sketch seemingly designed to highlight the wisdom of having selected a career path that does not require them to act with any regularity.
Although they were known to challenge themselves from time to time.
Prince Markie Dee begins by informing us that the apparent stroke victim aimlessly patrolling the front walk of Lovecraft's Witch House is his lawyer. The lawyer explains that the aforementioned haunted mansion belonged to Markie's late uncle Frederick (spoiler alert: Uncle Frederick is Freddy Krueger), and that in order for Markie to inherit this dusty goblin palace, he has to spend one night within its cobwebbed four walls. Markie repeats this stipulation with awestruck wonderment, as if trading a night of sleepless dread for the deed to a dead pedophile's reliquary puts him on the receiving end of the greatest bargain in history. Then a werewolf howls for no goddamned reason and Buff Love the Human Beatbox slowly turns his neckless brain carriage to regard Freddy's Creep Shack with disbelieving fear.
Kool Rock Ski voices our collective dubiety over Prince Markie Dee's improbable blood relation to Freddy Krueger by stuttering his way through an Abbott and Costello joke before mercifully dismissing the old man, who scoops up his briefcase and dodders off to go die in a Denny's booth somewhere on the edge of town as the trio strolls up the path to Freddy's front door. We are now almost a minute and a half into this music video, and a single note of music has yet to be played.
Freddy actually delivers the first verse of the song, wherein he rattles off his name and address as if he's filling out a Blockbuster membership application. He then invites us to stay and listen to the rest of the jam, as if looking away from the screen was still within the realm of possibility at this point, and informs us that we will all be busting rhymes of our own by the time the credits roll (pay attention -- this rhyme-busting oath becomes important later). He spits another verse at the end of the song, employing the immortal 1980s rhyming device "My name is Freddy and I'm here to say ..." while emphatically folding his arms. You know, like rappers do.
He spends the interim snapping his fingers as he stalks the Fat Boys through his lair, keeping time until his next verse like Dionne Warwick tapping out the beat on the side of a microphone. Because he really wants to kill those rascally rappers, but he doesn't want to be so focused on the task that he misses his cue.
Freddy's garbled, fleshy version of the Batman voice is actually easier to understand than either Prince Markie Dee or Kool Rock Ski, who both sound like they're shouting distress messages to Kennedy Space Center through a tube sock full of mashed potatoes. Rapping back in the days of MTV's infancy meant screaming each word at the listener with the frenzied urgency of an air traffic controller trying to keep a jumbo jet from pancaking into the runway in a blaze of wrongful death litigation, so Freddy's unfamiliarity with the game might have actually worked in his favor as far as delivering understandable lyrics. And clearly, the best time to delve into the subtleties of rap is during a slapstick music video starring Freddy Krueger.
It's Like an Episode of Scooby-Doo Starring Old School Rappers and Freddy Krueger
After delighting us with three of the most stumblingly awkward comedic performances in recorded history, the Fat Boys start 1980s rapper-strutting their way through Freddy's suburban spook lair, pulling silent movie terror faces, hiding under bedsheets, and engaging in hilarious buffoonery to elude Freddy's cackling slow-footed pursuit. Because there's nothing wackier than the boiled corpse of a child molester chasing three obese men in coordinated outfits through the halls of a haunted mansion.
Buff Love the Human Beatbox, robbed of his normal position in the group due to the song's decisive lack of any beatboxing, nobly assumes the role of a 400-pound sight gag with the practiced grace and subtlety of the giant hero-crushing thunder orb from Raiders of the Lost Ark. He paws mightily in the opposite direction as his bandmates drag him up the walk and force him inside the house, even though I'm pretty sure he could root himself into the Earth like a marble column if he really didn't want to be a part of this Fat Boys adventure.
If that man decided not to move, no force in this universe could disagree with him.
I'm not even sure why they're trying to shanghai Buff Love into attending their bedeviled slumber party. Prince Markie Dee is the only one who has to spend the night in the house -- Freddy is his uncle, after all. His Fat brethren aren't legally obligated to bed down in Freddy Krueger's flay-murder flophouse, nor do they stand to gain anything from the venture. They are only there to provide moral support, or in Buff Love's case, a waddling, pendulum-chested decoy that can be hamstringed at the first sign of danger and tossed into Freddy's path like a toppled cart of deli meat into a tide of screaming pumas to facilitate Markie and Kool's escape.
"Be brave, Buffy! We'll write a tribute song about you with Sting!"
Also, two-thirds of the Fat Boys are wearing multi-fingered rings large enough to be confiscated by airport security. They're like gold-plated brass knuckles. There's no reason Kool Rock Ski or Buff Love couldn't throw a fist shielded in that vanity hand armor and implode Freddy's jawbone.
To be fair, Freddy's cameo in a goofy music video spitting maladroit rhymes alongside three human cartoon characters makes it difficult to take him seriously as an icon of relentless terror, so maybe the Fat Boys just never feel threatened enough to actually punch him in the face.
The Fat Boys Repeatedly Assure Us That the Way to Defeat Freddy Is to Bust a Rhyme
The phrase "bust a rhyme" is chanted like a magical talisman no less than 12 times throughout the song. The Fat Boys toll off every hour as their night in Freddy's rickety ghost shack goes on, announcing with each early morning chime that Freddy will be on MTV busting a rhythm:
"1 a.m. and Freddy's here
On MTV, gonna bust a rhythm
When you see him coming down, stay away from the dark
Watch out for Freddy, and bust a rhyme
2 a.m. and Freddy's here
On MTV, gonna bust a rhythm
When you see him coming down, stay away from the dark
Watch out for Freddy, and bust a rhyme"
Rhymes are, of course, the spiritual complement to rhythms, so the Fat Boys keep desperately urging us to bust them in order to remain safe from Freddy's evil.
"Quickly, children! Form a tight circle and recite DMX's 'Party Up' directly into the demon's face!"
However, as we learned in his introductory verse, Freddy is totally aware of the power of the busted rhyme, and he knows that we will try to use it against him:
"Freddy Krueger's the name
You know my game
Elm Street's the place
You got the time
Listen to this
You'll bust a rhyme"
It's as if he has become too powerful for even the dopest and freshest MCs to withstand, but he's still daring us to try to 8 Mile him. It's sort of like in Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, when the kids thought they could out-dream Freddy and give themselves superpowers but he murdered the shit out of them anyway. The Fat Boys are walking into a trap, and they're setting us up for failure along with them.
Freddy spits hot fire.
Despite all the horizontally striped monkeyshines, the lyrics make it explicitly clear that the Fat Boys are aware of the danger Freddy poses -- they specifically reference Freddy's intention to rape and murder Nancy, the heroine from the first Nightmare on Elm Street film. And they do it while bumbling through the house and clawing frantically at the air like frightened Looney Tunes characters for maximum comedic effect. Given the wealth of knowledge of Freddy's history displayed by the Fat Boys' verses, we are left to wonder why Prince Markie Dee never called the police on his Uncle Frederick, or why in the molten geysershits he'd want to spend the night in that fucking house.
"Uncle Frederick's house on Elm Street? Man, I have the best repressed memories of that place!"
The Fat Boys Trample a Random Nerd Buying Groceries at 3 a.m. in Their Haste to Escape
Freddy finally gets the best of our heroes, and the Fat Boys are forced to gather up their obesity and flee after Prince Markie decides he no longer cares about fulfilling his legal obligation to stay the night in Freddy Krueger's ancient stab tomb. They burst through the front door with the combined weight of the engine block of a Plymouth Prowler, and in their haste they wind up trampling the nerdiest nerd ever captured on film. The man looks like Chris Elliott tackled Paul Giamatti into the gene-recombining teleporter from The Fly.
Why this man was walking by the house in the middle of the night with an armful of corn flakes is never explained, but Buff Love the Human Beatbox manages to overcome his terror long enough to double back and eat a doughnut from the downed man's flattened groceries.
Get it? Because he's fat.
Truly, this was one pulse-pounding fright night that none of us will soon forget.
Tom owned the Fat Boys' Crushin' on cassette and bought the Nightmare on Elm Street board game from a school-sponsored garage sale, but he never thought to connect the two events until just now. Read his novel Stitches and follow him on Twitter and Tumblr.
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