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Analysis: “A Nightmare On My Street” vs. “Are You Ready For Freddy”

tn_freddysongsspecialpresentationOh shit you guys, did you notice it’s Halloween already? I feel like the season is just getting started, though. Next week I’m gonna have more horror reviews for you, plus other stuff.

But today instead of another review I thought I should do something different, a Halloween special if you will. Something great and beautiful and timeless that really captures the traditions and atmosphere and feelings of the holiday, like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the world’s only animated tribute to sincerity. Good cartoon in my opinion. I should totally do something like that if I’m up to it. Or maybe I could write about the Freddy Krueger rapping, that might be something more appropriate to my level of expertise. I guess I’ll do the second one.

In the late 1980s, a period when horror sequels were a major part of pop culture, there were two songs by popular rap acts that were inspired by the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET saga. Let’s take a look at them both.

“A Nightmare On My Street” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince was the first track on their second album He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper (released April 5, 1988, between ELM STREETs 3 and 4). There was a single of it released in August, but not a video.

mp_jazzyjeffThe Fresh Prince (who is now known as the popular movie actor Will Smith, little bit of trivia for you there) plays himself, talking about getting off of a tour and going to the movies with his DJ, his beatboxer and their dates. But when he goes home and sleeps he’s haunted by Freddy, who he describes as “burnt up like a weenie.” He alternates between a jokey tone and a serious one, telling Freddy that he can’t pick up girls because “your face is all burnt,” but also describing creepy images from the movie like a melting phone and slashes in his sheets that are still there when he wakes up.

This song is not officially connected to the ELM STREET series, so Smith (I believe) gets to play the part of Freddy. (For the record, that means Robert Englund, Jackie Earle Haley and Will Smith are the three actors who have played Freddy.)

This Freddy does indeed rap. The voice is electronically lowered and sounds pretty accurate to how he sounded in part 1. It works surprisingly well, especially when he manages to work part 2‘s famous “You’ve got the body and I’ve got the brain” line into a rhyme.

One Freddy line I have gone 26 years not understanding is, at least according to whoever made the above Youtube video, “You turned off David Letterman now you must die.” Okay, I’ll take it. There’s alot of late night TV viewing in the ELM STREET movies, isn’t there? So it was smart to get that into the song. Welcome to prime time, bitch.

The part that seems to be taking it most seriously is at the end when he calls Jazzy Jeff in a panic at 3 a.m. to warn him not to fall asleep. Instead of rhyming about it he actually acts it out, complete with phone dialing sound effects and everything. Of course the call is interrupted by Freddy, who changes his “I’m your boyfriend now” line from part 1 to “I’m your DJ now, Princey!”

That’s an absurd concept, that they would become DJ Freddy Fred and the Fresh Prince, but let’s not take it literally. It’s just one of those stupid things Freddy would say to him in a nightmare. Freddy would be wearing a red and green striped Kangol bucket hat and a fat gold rope with a medallion version of his glove, and he would fold his arms in a b-boy stance before cutting into his head with a bunch of records and then using an iced out version of his claws as needles to scratch with the records, slicing him up in the meanwhile. This dream would happen on a set with spraypainted cartoons on a white background like the “Parents Just Don’t Understand” video.

“Are You Ready For Freddy” is another Freddy rap song, this one by The Fat Boys. It’s on their album Coming Back Hard Again, but originally played over the end credits of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER. Yes, that means it’s an official Elm Street song with Robert Englund rapping as Freddy. I never knew this, but according to Wikipedia it actually came out as a single a few weeks before the Fresh Prince album came out.

mp_fatboysAs you can see this one did have a video about Freddy stalking the Fat Boys through the famous 1428 Elm Street house that Nancy (and the kid from part 2) lived in. It was directed by Harvey Keith, who had directed the performance art movie MONDO NEW YORK that came out the same year.

The Fat Boys drive up on scooters wearing striped sweaters and learn from an uptight white lawyer that they have to spend a night in the house to get an inheritance from Prince Marky D’s “Uncle Frederick,” a relative from a part of his family he never told his fellow Boys about. This bit of information is never addressed in the movies (or even the boring remake) but in my opinion it is for sure canon. In FREDDY’S DEAD when Freddy’s daughter was the only one who could kill him she could’ve called her cousin Prince Marky D to help.

Also, this proves that DISORDERLIES is part of the ELM STREET franchise and should be included in future box sets.

This being official gives the Fat Boys a bit of an advantage, they’re able to be on an authentic set with picket fences and Renny Harlin style beams of light shining out of the boarded windows into the smoke. The production design is by Mick Strawn, who also did THE DREAM MASTER and the Freddy’s Nightmares TV series. Almost cheating. Also they get to use footage from the movies and samples of Nancy’s voice from part 1.

And of course they have Robert Englund as Freddy, both in the video and on the recording. We’ve heard Freddy say some pretty ridiculous things between the sequels, the Freddy’s Nightmares intros and the time he hosted MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball (I have that on VHS somewhere) but this is one of the few times he ever said “Yo, bust a rhyme!”

The Fat Boys do more of a free-form song talking about different Freddy-related topics rather than telling a story like The Fresh Prince did. But there’s alot of overlap in the content:

* Both have some very cliche old school lines in them: Fresh Prince starts out with “Now I have a story that I’d like to tell” and Freddy uses “You see my name is Freddy and I’m here to say.” (Advantage Fresh Prince on that one, since Freddy’s line forces our brains to expect “I love Fruity Pebbles in a major way” as the next line.)

* Both describe Freddy’s clothing. Fresh Prince makes fun of him because “He wears the same hat and sweater every single day / and even if it’s hot outside he wears it anyway.” But I really like the Fat Boys saying that he wears a “hat like a vagabond.” Vagabond is not a word you hear in enough rap songs in my opinion.

* Fresh Prince describes Freddy attacking him in bed and slashing his sheets. The “Are You Ready For Freddy” video shows this happening to the Fat Boys.

* Both blur the line between movie and reality by talking about Freddy as a real guy but also mentioning his movies. Fresh Prince talks about seeing “ELM STREET” in the theater (I assume that’s the original but I suppose it could abbreviate whatever the latest is at the time of the incident). Prince Marky Dee specifically brings up a previous sequel: “Even in part 3, the Dream Warriors failed.”

* Both use their fear as wacky hijinks. Fresh Prince does it better, claiming unconvincingly “Heh, I wasn’t that scared anyway” after waking up from his nightmare. But the Fat Boys video combines scaredy cat humor with fat guy humor for the ultimate lowest common denominator jokes. In one scene Buffy the Human Beat Box runs and jumps on a bed in fear and it breaks. In the last scene the Boys come running out of the house and trample over some dude carrying groceries. But Buffy overcomes his fear long enough for the video to end on a freeze frame of him eating one of the guy’s powdered donuts.

THE VERDICT

The Fat Boys deserve credit for their rapping, which is a little more complex than Fresh Prince’s. But the production, with the female backup singers singing about Freddy and the slick slap bassline, is over-polished and cheesy. When Freddy starts rapping over it it reminds me of something that could be on a WWF album such as Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II.

“A Nightmare On My Street,” on the other hand finds a perfect way to rework Charles Bernstein’s original ELM STREET theme into a keyboard loop that’s a little bit funky, a little bit creepy. I didn’t expect this when listening to this song for the first time in many years, but musically this is a great song, which you don’t usually get in a novelty tune. Just having better music behind it may be the secret to their fake Freddy’s rap sounding better than the real one’s. Or maybe it is possible that Grammy award winner Will Smith has a better flow than Robert Englund, I’m not sure.

Despite “Are You Ready For Freddy” being first, officially licensed and played over the end credits of part 4, “A Nightmare On My Street” is the clear winner here. There is no ambiguous ending like in FREDDY VS. JASON. It’s just a way better song.

Anyway, happy Halloween everybody! You’ve earned it!

BONUS:

The end credits of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD feature a way better rap song, “Let’s Go” by Kool Moe Dee. This one has nothing to do with Freddy, though, it’s actually a diss of LL Cool J (HALLOWEEN H20 TWENTY YEARS LATER). It was nominated for a Razzie Award for “Worst Original Song” (fuck you Razzies) but lost to “Bring Your Daughter… to the Slaughter” by Bruce Dickinson, also from THE DREAM CHILD, since we were going through an awkward heavy metal to hip hop transition in the world of horror sequel soundtracks.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 31st, 2014 at 5:14 pm and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

15 Responses to “Analysis: “A Nightmare On My Street” vs. “Are You Ready For Freddy””

  1. well goddamn if that wasn’t your funniest review all year

  2. No way. Fat Boys forever. Peace to Buff, the ox who rocks. R.I.P.

  3. “You turned off David Letterman” was the line? Thank you, Vern. I never understood what he was saying there.

    I do have to correct that Fresh Prince does seem to specifically be talking about the first movie. Remember, he says it’s about this homeboy named Fred and this girl named Nancy? I suppose that could mean III (or the future New Nightmare!) but I doing he wouldn’t mention the Dream Warriors or Nurse Fishburne if that were the case. Also isn’t the first the only time they really call him Fred Kreuger? After that it’s almost exclusively Freddy.

  4. Extra credit goes to DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince for bringing back Freddy for a few seconds of freestyle with the rest of their crew on cassette versions of He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper:

    My fellow eleven year olds, denied access to this exclusive cut due to their early embrace of the CD, were tickled to hear me play this in between rounds of NES games and whatever other too damn hype things we were up to in ’88. It sometimes pays to be slightly behind the cutting edge of technology.

  5. I’m Team Fat Boys. I like Will and all, but he raps like a Muppet. He can’t compete with the Disco 3.

  6. No way, Jazzy Jeff and the Prince. You have to appreciate the narrative. Also the Fat Boys music video starts off on the wrong foot – they have to spend the night in the Elm Street house but aren’t even shown falling asleep before Freddy turns up? Will Smith was more accurate in terms of the world of the film continuity.

    See, Freddy killed all that noise real quick.

  7. I’m definitely siding with DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince on this. Although that’s solely based on the fact of listening to that tape with my cousins that summer when I was 14 while we hung out at their grandparents (not my grandparents – other side of the family) while the entire family put a new roof on their house, including two really hot 19 year old cousins. Again, I can’t stress enough that they were the other side of the family & not my cousins. Anyway, one of them looked like Jake Ryan from SIXTEEN CANDLES, swear to God, Jake Ryan. He made my entire summer once when I was inside washing my hands & he came in to wash his hands & just put his hands over the top of mine & washed our hands together. Sure, it sounds kinda icky now that I’m thinking of me being 14 & him being 19, but did I mention he looked like Jake Ryan?

  8. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 1st, 2014 at 1:51 am

    Wow, there’s a Will Smith rap where he plays the part of Freddy Kruegar? And it’s a thing that exists?

    Ok then.

    Y’know I said in my occasional rap retrospective thing that the genre pretty much relies on the bizarre, but this one, I confess, I didn’t see coming at all.

  9. Dj Jazzy Jeff and the other guy all the way! I remember both of these and was a fan of them both. But man, I really dug Nightmare on My Street at the time. I bought that album for parents just don’t understand but I think I listened to nightmare more. (And I honestly don’t any other tracks on that thing).

    Was there really not a video for that song? I really thought there was, but since it’s not official, I am probably having a false memory.

  10. They did shoot a video but New Libe prevented it from being aired.

  11. I’m Team Rappin’ Rodney:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLGxWPtgodo

  12. They did shoot a video? Well, if the NIGHTBREED director’s cut can come out and Jodorowsky can make up with Alan Klein and etc. then it’s time to release that video! The ghost of New Line could use it as a short subject before THE HOBBIT to pad out the running time a little.

  13. Or better yet, if they could package it with John Landis’ 3-D re-release of Thriller.

  14. “Both blur the line between movie and reality by talking about Freddy as a real guy but also mentioning his movies.”

    Does this mean that Nightmare on My Street and Are You Ready for Freddy actually both prefigure Wes Craven’s New Nightmare?

  15. I swear I saw a video of the Fresh Prince version when I was a kid. I remember that song and the video with Smith and Jeff running around scared. I think it didn’t have Freddy actually appear, they just were scared of him. But I remember it not being on the box set of DVDs years ago, and not being able to ever find a clip of it anywhere, and I read it was buried by New Line. But, I swear it existed at one point, like those old Barenaked Ladies PSAs they did for Fox.

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