I love that the A.V Club is a place where people can delve deep into the minutiae and mechanics of even the stupidest, silliest comedy. It’s seldom enough to say something is or isn’t funny. Comedy is far too subjective for that shit. You have to explain why something is funny, back up your argument, do background research, provide footnotes, and hand in your work before class Friday. It’s like college, only more funnerer.
With that in mind, I would like to list some of the reasons The Lonely Island’s “Santana DVX” is funny as fuck and will make you lose your shit. And possibly go mental.
1. Structure. I am a sucker for hip hop songs with novel or elaborate structures. The more a song plays like a vaudeville skit or radio play the more I generally dig it. A seamless fusion of song and sketch, “Santana DVX” has an ingenious structure that recalls one of my favorite hip hop narratives, The Coup’s “Pimps (Free Stylin at the Fortune 500 Club)”. It takes the form of a conversation between two men whose lives have been transformed by exposure to Carlos Santana’s magical champagne and a lost soul oblivious to the magical elixir’s existence.
“Santana DVX” begins ambitiously, introduces clearly defined characters, then builds to the awesome climax of E-40 channeling Carlos Santana while waxing braggadocios about his wine-making prowess. Super fucking genius.
2. The line “He teamed with Rob Thomas for a music revolution”
3. The insane conviction in which the line “He teamed with Rob Thomas for a music revolution” is delivered.
4. The song’s affectionate satire of rock star synergy in general and the celebrification of Napa Valley and the wine industry in particular. Every famous person and their mother has a winery in Napa Valley. Two of my favorites were B.R Cohn, a wine put out by the Doobie Brothers’ manager, and Mario Andretti’s winery. They might sound like throwaway gags from Family Guy but they exist and they’re kind of awesome. It wasn’t until I started writing this piece that I realized that I had actually visited Carlos Santana DVX during my trip to Napa Valley and, as the song vouches, his shit’ll get you fucked up.
Satire is generally more effective if it has a basis in reality. “Santana DVX” begins with something real—the surreal fact that Carlos Santana makes an insanely expensive wine for rich white people—and takes it ridiculous places.
5. Having E-40 play Carlos Santana. So wrong. So right.
6. The way E-40 says, “I see you bitches iz enjoying my sparkling wine” as if he has peanut butter stuck to the roof of his mouth. E-40 is a genius at delivery; his perfect comic timing plays a big role in making the song work. The word choice is also very savvy: “sparkling wine” is much funnier than “champagne” though the song has a lot of song with that word as well.
7. The way the song exaggerates the nasal, nerdy White Person voice black comedians and rappers adopt to mock hopeless super-crackers for satirical effect. On “Santana DVX” The Lonely Island wisenheimers essentially don whiteface; it’s a burlesque of whiteness that comments playfully on the comedy trope of white people whose inhibitions magically disappear the moment the moment they drink, or smoke pot or are exposed to crazy be-bop rhythms or endless self-indulgent guitar solos
8. Its use of hyperbole and incongruous juxtapositions.
9. Lonely Island’s obvious affection for what they spoof. There’s nothing mean-spirited about Andy Samberg and company’s pop-culture riffing. It’s always done with love and an attention to detail.
10. The beat. I actually have producer/rapper J-Zone’s email address (incidentally if you haven’t checked out J-Zone’s shit you should; it’s hilarious and hits The A.V Club base of brainy, pop-culture-obsessed smartasses right in the sweet spot) so I asked him how he got involved with the song.
Here’s what he had to say: “Danger Mouse asked me for some beats to give to his homeboy's group. Then he came back and told me what beat they picked, but I honestly didn't even know who Lonely Island were because I live under a rock. I knew "Dick In A Box", but I didn't see the connection. When I told my students at school, they were like "Yo you don't know who Andy Samberg is? Thats SNL!" and I was like "oh shit". Jorma Taccone calls me 3 months later like "yo I'm in that group, we dig your albums and we got E-40 on that beat you gave us".
I almost drove off the fuckin road. I've always been a big E-40 fan, and when I would say I wanted to work with him, people would laugh because I had gotten pigeonholed hard into East Coast indie rap. Like "are you serious? You cant work with E-40!". But E-40 and Sick Widdit Records' stuff was all I was listening to in the late 90's/early 2000's. The fact that it actually happened is crazy. They gave me a surprisingly good amount of freedom to arrange the song too. The sample cost us 2 kajillion dollars to clear so I got no publishing, but I'm just happy to have had the chance to be on a great record and Lonely Island are real down to earth and funny ass dudes. Its my only chance to get a gold record too! Definitely a Top 5 career highlight for me. They shout me out in their interviews too which means a lot, because I'm the low man on the totem pole as far as the guests on that album go.”
Look at me, doing research! I’m like a real reporter person and everything!
11. It’s just fucking funny. Why you always gotta be over-analyzing shit?