Throughout recent hip-hop history, music videos have been known for their fair share of bling, sex, and… puppets?
The use of those little furry creatures has become a running theme in the genre, especially with recent visuals like D.R.A.M.’s “Cute” and Chance the Rapper‘s “Same Drugs.” From Eminem to El-P, here are some highlights from the hip-hop puppet cannon.
Who better to star alongside D.R.A.M. in his video for new single “Cute” than an adorable little D.R.A.M. puppet? Big Baby D.R.A.M., known for his infectious charisma when it comes to his aesthetic (see: his album cover which features the rapper cheesin’ with his beloved pup Idnit), had a look-alike mocked up for “Cute,” complete with his trademark dreads and wide smile. The result is the epitome of cuteness, as the mini-D.R.A.M. first hooks up with real-life ladies and then finds a puppet lover of his own. The entire production goofs on rap cliches and is the latest addition to rap’s rich puppet history.
Chance the Rapper, “Same Drugs”
Chance the Rapper, who recently won the Grammy for best new artist and best rap performance, is known for elevating the genre and experimenting with his career, making him one of today’s most indelible artists. His recent video for “Same Drugs” builds on that reputation by featuring puppets. Chance’s puppet, who joins him on a duet of his hit “Same Drugs” and later reveals a world of puppets, was inspired by ’70s-era cult classic The Muppet Show and took about a month to put together.
“I sent Chance a text saying it would be cool to recreate it like an old Muppets episode,” explained “Same Drugs” director Jake Schreier in a recent interview with Pigeons and Planes. “He liked it but felt it needed more, and that’s how we got the idea of him being the only human in a world of puppets at the end. The shift to having the puppet rest lifelessly on his shoulder, and the overall idea of escape were things Chance came up with on set.”
Eminem, “A– Like That”
Never one to shy away from being simultaneously subversive and sardonic, Eminem used the art of puppetry in 2004 for the video of his gratuitous hit “A– Like That.” Starring Slim Shady along with Late Night with Conan O’Brien regular Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (aka comedian Robert Smigel), the video stems from an awkward run-in at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards between Triumph, known for his zingers, Eminem and Moby. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
Proving he’s game to take a joke, Em later invited Triumph to join forces on “A– Like That” and their beef was squashed. “I can’t believe that he’s obsessed with me after all this time. I think he’s jealous because I’m black,” Triumph told MTV News in 2005. “Let’s get one thing straight: I used a stunt double for all those scenes. I would never let Eminem put his hand up my a–.”
Missy Elliott featuring Pharrell Williams, “WTF (Where They From)”
What do you do when your song features Pharrell but he doesn’t appear in the video? You make a puppet of the super producer. For her 2015 release “WTF (Where They From),” Missy Elliott packed an eye-popping visual, including a wild cast of puppets that featured a Pharrell marionette that pops and locks just as good as the real thing. The replacement seemed to work, as “WTF” became an instant viral hit, netting three million views in just a few days and later peaking at No. 22 on the Hot 100.
El-P, “The Full Retard”
Renowned rap god El-P, one half of Run the Jewels, also did his part to join the ranks of the hip-hop greats who’ve called upon the presence of puppets to elevate their videos. For the video to his 2012 single “The Full Retard” from the Cancer for Cure album, El-P’s edgy track begins with him spitting, “You should pump this shit like they do in the future,” and never lets up. The whole thing is complimented by a cartoonish quality that features a puppet friend, as the two take to the streets and raise some hell.
Blackstreet, “No Diggity”
When “No Diggity” was released in 1996, it quickly became a smash hit, unseating the 14-week reign of the dance sensation “Macarena” and its multiple weeks as the No. 1 one song in the country. While the song is obviously epic, its video is also on another level thanks to the scene-stealing appearance of a marionette at the piano. The whole affair was directed by Hype Williams, whose most recent effort was Travis Scott’s “90210.” We like the way you work it, indeed.
Sesame Street, “Regulators”
This may not be an official video, but this epic mash-up of Sesame Street clips with Warren G and Nate Dogg’s 1994 hit “Regulate” combines hip-hop and puppets in the best way possible. Who knew Bert and Ernie could be so savage?