Justin Bieber vs. Michael Clancy in Today’s Video Battle Rap
Justin Bieber raps a verse on the recently released “Lolly” by Maejor Ali. While most of the song is about having fun with penises, Bieber’s rap seems to focus on how much fun it is to be a huge dick. In his verse Bieber simultaneously seduces and insults women, boasts about stealing girlfriends, touts his wealth, revels in his VIP access, and just generally enjoys all the perks of fame and riches not only for their own sake but also because no one else has them.
All this unrepentant prickery is interesting because Bieber continues to profess a very public Christian faith when he’s not on the mic. He gets Jesus tattoos. He discusses sin and redemption with second-tier music channels. He thanks God and Jesus when he wins awards (and presumably lets his deities off the hook when he loses to Esperanza Spalding). In Bieber’s non-rap words, he’s quite the godly young man, but the persona he assumes in his lyrics is anything but. Many of his Christian fans can probably accept that an artistic persona doesn’t always reflect one’s true character and actions, but I’d imagine that others won’t be able or willing to draw that distinction when they hear the Biebs rapping about his “sixth floor” exploits in the middle of a song geared primarily toward inviting young ladies to kiss the top of young men’s “lollipops.”
Contrast this Bieberific moral quandary with the example set by 2011 viral video sensation Michael Clancy:
Now an adult and an attorney, the young Clancy was a courageous soldier in Christ’s army, dancing and twirling and rhyming breathlessly to proclaim the glory of the Lord. Unlike what we see with Bieber, there is no divide between Clancy’s faith and his, um, “music.”
All snark aside, though Clancy’s early 90s song-and-dance is undoubtedly hilarious as a viral video, I’d like to think that at least some viewers who initially laugh at the kid’s terrible rapping and dancing go on to realize that nothing about Michael Clancy truly deserves sustained ridicule. Unless the laws of the Internet’s darkest corners have become universally codified, then what Clancy’s doing in the video — having fun, harming no one, and doing something he and others find meaningful — is not only harmless but damn near exemplary.
Especially when held up next to the lyrics of Justin Bieber. In fact, when I compare “Lolly” with “Nu Thang,” I can’t help dreaming of a world where Clancy gets left alone after a few mild chuckles, while Bieber is the object of persistent scorn for being a jerk, a terrible rapper, and above all, stupidly overpaid for his lousy output.
The criteria for judging a virtual Clancy vs. Bieber battle rap in that world might look something like this:
Flow: Neither of these kids has great flow. Because he’s also a dancing machine, Clancy runs out of breath several times. He can’t stay on the beat. And because it seems like he’s most focused on avoiding falling down and hitting his head, he just doesn’t convince me that he’s truly moved by the “Nu Thang,” whatever that “thang” is, that Jesus is doing for us. But Bieber is also pretty bad by most measures. He sounds like he’s asleep, or maybe he just makes me wish that I’m asleep. Also, he clearly wrote the only words he could think of and then was forced to stretch them across and counter to the rhythm, as evidenced in the “I’m all faaaaaaancy” line. Winner: Clancy, because he’s not a professional, globally famous musician getting paid dubiously large amounts of money for questionable output.
Rhymes: Clancy can’t be blamed too much here, as he’s actually performing a D.C. Talk song and replacing “D.C. Talk” with “Michael Clancy” in the lyrics. In fact, that’s actually kind of awesome, and probably what I find the most endearing about the entire clip. Bieber, on the other hand, drops some real stinkers on us because he needed some rhyming words in key places and didn’t know how else to get there. How about, “I’m in the El Camino and I pull up on the scene-0,” or “Let’s just admit that I’m the bestest, guess this, you ain’t ever on the guest list.” Yeah, that’s not good. Certainly not the bestest. Winner: Clancy, because he’s not a professional, globally famous musician getting paid dubiously large amounts of money for questionable output.
Message: See above. Bieber’s message is about how awesome it is to be a jerk. Clancy’s message is one through which a couple of billion people in the world find joy and sustenance. Winner: Clancy, because he’s not a professional, globally famous musician getting paid dubiously large amounts of money for questionable output.
Moves: Clancy can’t dance, but he’s giving it all he’s got. Bieber has good choreographers and has clearly practiced a lot over the years. Winner: Bieber, because money spent on choreography and instruction can eventually buy you decent dance moves if you have basic use of your arms and legs.
Gear: Clancy’s pants are wonderfully unfashionable by today’s standards. Bieber’s flat-bill hats are ridiculous, I don’t care how fashionable they are right now. Clancy’s 90s high-tops look like the ones Bieber wears today, though I’m sure Bieber spends more on a shoelace than Clancy’s parents made in a year back then. Winner: Clancy, because he’s not a professional, globally famous musician getting paid dubiously large amounts of money for questionable output.
Overall winner: Clancy, because he’s not a…yeah, you get the point.