Saturday Night Live wrapped up its 39th season this month with a reminder of what it’s been missing as Andy Samberg returned to host, contributing a couple of his signature Digital Shorts. Since Samberg’s departure the show has continued producing the shorts, albeit without the same viral buzz it stirred under his tenure. One cast member seems to have particular hopes of becoming the show’s go-to funny video guy: Jay Pharoah, an ace impressionist who shares Samberg’s fascination with rap culture. This winter he joined John Goodman and Wale for a rap about H&M, and outside of SNL he’s produced his own music videos, including an unabashedly ridiculous riff on Kanye West’s “I Am A God” last year. The jokes don’t land as fast, however, in Pharaoh’s latest clip for Above Average, a quickie from a mixtape the comedian is planning to drop this summer. “Problems” is a Lonely Island-esque satire of rap’s tough-guy culture that finds Pharoah’s hardened rapper repeatedly breaking character to consider his personal issues. As an illustration of the role of fantasy in modern rap, it’s effective enough, but the short lacks the visual flair and musical memorableness that made Samberg the master of the form.
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