The Florida Gators make their first true road trip of 2017 this Saturday, traveling to Lexington — not the capital of Kentucky, though you could be forgiven for mistaking the city with a combination mall/basketball arena as the capital of Kentucky — to take on the Kentucky Wildcats in a game airing at 7:30 p.m. on the SEC Network. We’re long removed from the early battles between cable and satellite providers about carriage of the SEC Network, so you can probably find it on your TV.
If not, the game is available for online streaming through WatchESPN, which is a great solution for fans who don’t mind being two plays behind at a time when the conversation about sports is as up-to-the-minute as it has ever been. (I do. Streaming services will never achieve parity with cable and satellite providers until that delay is eliminated, and I’ve been watching streams for a decade without that happening, so I’m not bullish on the prospects.)
While this game is certainly harder to watch than the other two Florida games this season — which aired at 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays on ABC and CBS, respectively — the degree of difficulty in finding a Florida game has dropped precipitously from the days when some of them were carried by Raycom Sports, or by the Sunshine Network, or only on pay-per view. Yay for that.
Also yay for everyone discovering this month that the ting go skrrrrap, pap pap kat kat kat, skee de bee pap pap, and a boo coo doooo poom. Skeeeat! Doo doo coo too doon toom. Poom poom.
The above is an excerpt from a freestyle on British DJ Charlie Sloth’s BBC Radio 1Xtra show, and specifically from a segment called “Fire In the Booth,” on which rappers of various levels of renown — mostly British, but some American — rap their best bars over instrumentals chosen by Sloth. It happened in late August, but because American culture has been British culture, but later since, oh, 400 years ago or so, it didn’t really hit in the U.S. until early September, when people seized on the above hilarious onomatopoeic rendition of how “the ting” — it’s a gun — “go” as Roadman Shaq lays down his foes.
Shaq’s enthusiastic gun noises became a punchline for how various gun and non-gun “tings” “go”, and thus this 15-second bit of brilliance became a meme. But those 15 seconds are from a 22-minute sketch that tickled me throughout when I watched it earlier this week.
Over those 22-plus minutes, British comedian Michael Dapaah portrays MC Quakez and Roadman Shaq, two very different MCs equally and diametrically unsuited to the task of bringing fire to the booth. Quakez and his partner, Shakez, have no bars of value, and return often to chopping up the word Balenciaga to promote their new song “Balance”; Shaq, on the other hand, believes he is as hard as sheetrock — “roadman” being in British slang what “gangsta” is Stateside, more or less — and has no idea how ridiculous he sounds while talking about “movin’ that cornflakes” and other things that sound vaguely like what rappers say they do on the margins of legality.
At the end of his verse, Shaq comes to a refrain about how “man’s not hot” — “Perspiration ting! Lynx effect!” he proclaims, referencing an ad campaign for the British version of Axe deodorant — that leads him and Sloth, who dropped one of his trademark “PERFECT!” sound clips from Street Fighter II to show just how good one Shaq punchline was, to have a discussion about how he looks hot in his jacket, how Shaq is “really about it,” and how Shaq lost his jacket to “that R.S. guy.”
“That R.S. guy”? Roll Safe, the hapless MC portrayed by Kayode Ewumi in his October 2015 Hood Documentary, which itself passed into virality and memehood in 2017 by virtue of an image macro in which Roll Safe tapping his temple allowed people to dispense all manner of not-actually-good advice.
The echoing of another hysterical parody of British grime culture is the best kind of homage, as is Dapaah’s whole act: Quakez and Shaq are parodies, but clearly ones born out of so much familiarity and/or love that the acting is spot-on. Shaq’s verse is actually hot (“When the ting went quack, quack, quack? You men were duckin’”) despite being absurd on its face. Quakez captures all the excitement of an MC on the verge making an appearance on a radio show, even if he has nothing clever to say.
And Sloth, crucially, is playing along, both with the drops and the not-quite-compliments that delight the MCs and with the stage for their sketch work. This wouldn’t work nearly as well if it weren’t happening in the same medium as the real “Fire In the Booth” performances, without the veneer of reality.
I know this because Roadman Shaq spit essentially the same bars in a “street” “freestyle” earlier this year...
...and, because he doesn’t have the bit about how the ting go or a genuinely interested audience, the joke is more on him than it is on us, or on the style he’s mimicking. It’s not as funny, and it didn’t go viral, despite sharing upwards of 90 percent of the DNA of what did ultimately go viral.
Sometimes, all it takes is a subtle change for something to go completely right.
And you thought I wasn’t talking about Florida football.
Anyway, “Man’s Not Hot” is now on iTunes.