Brian Williams: Hip Hop Superstar

April 24, 2014
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If you had told me a year ago that whenever I thought of Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, old school hip hop would come to mind, I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet the staff of Jimmy Fallon’s show has made this not only possible, but pretty damn hilarious, too.

I’m a big hip hop fan and I’ve always loved putting samples together to create something new. The ‘Tonight Show’ staff, and specifically associate producer John McDonald, has been working extensively on these, going through hundreds of hours of news footage featuring Brian Williams. They pick up words and, in some cases (“hippity” comes to mind) they combined syllables to form odd words and make it seem like he’s rapping in the rhythm of each song, changing the pitch when necessary to make it work with the music.

Brian Williams: Hip Hop Superstar

While the beats on these songs are the originals, the words are done inadvertently by Williams from over 5 years of news reports, then put together out of their original context and morphed into popular hip hop songs. The results are even better than you might think they would be.

It’s also interesting to see where certain words come from. For instance, the word “bitches” from Snoop Dogg’s 1993 classic ‘Gin & Juice’ has a slow attack and we can see a baseball in the background, which suggests the original word used might have been “stitches” (with a little doctoring, of course.) It’s an awesome job and it surely required some really extensive Nightly News watching.

When they use other anchors to rap in unison they take it to another level. The careful attention to find the correct syllables with a shot they can use is remarkable.

I especially liked the bit on ‘Rapper’s Delight’ where Williams takes a back seat to Lester Holt and – through a split screen – they show Williams chilling, having a sip of coffee and looking confident while Holt does his thing. I went through the comments trying to see if there was someone trying to start a hip hop beef between them, looking for a “Damn, Brian Williams, he murdered you on your own shit!”

A very funny Williams showed up on The Tonight Show earlier this week to talk candidly about the videos. While he had nothing to do with the making of them – other than unknowingly providing a sound source and image while doing his own show – he was a great sport and played his part beautifully. “It’s all anyone mentions to me anymore,” Williams lamented in full deadpan.

Apparently Cuba Gooding Jr. approached him during a hockey game and told him he was now “a huge figure in the rap and hip hop community,” and Williams embraced his position by requesting Fallon some pre-hearing-loss Foxy Brown and Ludacris beats. Personally, I can’t wait to watch some more.

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