“Rap!” is the latest record by Los Angeles based rapper-comedian Zach Sherwin. Sherwin has been featured on Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell and The Pete Holmes Show, and he also writes and performs in the blockbuster YouTube series Epic Rap Battles of History. The new album drops today, June 9th and features songs about pill bugs, a funny dentist, and a track that samples the infamous YouTube video Charlie Bit Me. But though this record might transcend the “comedy-rap” genre, it’s something that Zach Sherwin takes very seriously as he told me when we sat down to talk about the release.
Zach said it was a love for hip hop that grabbed him first, almost a decade before he even thought about performing comedy. “I got my first rap tape when I was ten years old, and I started writing– at that age you don’t know that you can’t and maybe shouldn’t be doing that sort of thing by yourself so I started writing raps almost immediately,” he said. “I didn’t start doing comedy until I got to college but then I got involved with this sketch group where we were doing two to three minute premise-based skits. So that’s exactly the length of almost all the songs that I write. It eventually occurred to me to put the two together. And then when the group broke up I kind of had my next place to go.”
The resurgence of musical comedy has been strong over the last ten years with the emergence of artists like Lonely Island, Reggie Watts, Bo Burham, and the duo Garfunkel and Oats. Sherwin says he believes that YouTube has helped comedic music artists to connect with audiences. “Most songs are somewhat between a minute and a half to three minutes long, and that suits itself really well to comedy, and so I think that another good thing about the reason comedy music has been resurge-ing is YouTube is such a good way to spread it. It’s catchy.”
You don’t have to have a million good songs in order to have one enormous viral hit”
And though his songs do sometimes feature silly lyrics, his music isn’t a joke. The structure and the rhyme pattern in a hip-hop song is something he pays very close attention to.”There’s a certain kind of person for whom a really good rhyme is going to be a good joke in itself. There’s not a set up and punch line but just hearing those syllables together in an unexpected way is so enjoyable that it makes you laugh and counts as like a unit of comedy so I try to accomplish that,” he said. That attention to structure is something he not only strives for himself, but also admires in others, even non-comedic rappers like MF Doom and Eminem. “They’re just guys who just seem to care about how the syllables work and they’ll rhyme things so many syllables back. I remember the first Eminem lyric I really appreciated, he rhymed ‘naughty rotten rhymer’ with ‘Marty Schottenheimer’ and I was just so delighted.”
Zach shared his favorite Zach Sherwin rhyme with us too. “I think I try to really write out a lot of stuff that’s on here and put good fun rhymes into it. This record has my favorite rhyme I’ve ever written, he said. “Testosterone, with Sylvesta Stallone. I remember being really really pleased with it. I’m just trying to do stuff like that.”
Zach Sherwin new record “Rap!” is set to drop on June 9th and you can pick it up on iTunes, amazon.com or AST Records. Order Rap on Amazon.com now.
Thanks to BD for finding this clip from the album on CollegeCooking.com.