Beyoncé. Drake. Rick and Morty. Bandersnatch. Streaming content has opened the doors for new ways to release content to the masses with the click of a button. This seems like an ideal way for unconventional artists to raise awareness for their properties. It also works if you have the ability for the project to become globally available. Netflix offers that ability, but few would have guessed a rap album from the minds of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire would be content we’d receive. The fact it comes from The Lonely Island? Ok, that makes sense.
The surprise visual album from the pop/rap/comedy team of Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, and Jorma Taccone will be the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen. The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience tries to get inside the minds of famed baseball players Canseco and McGwire as they became household names during the 1988 season. The two players became phenomena during the season for their home runs, celebrations, and muscular physiques. They also found their way to the World Series three years in a row (1988-1990), winning the series in 1989. They would both later be exposed as users of anabolic steroids thanks to Canseco’s books on the subject.
Creating a comedy rap album about the famed stars sounds ridiculous on its face. Yet that’s what The Lonely Island does best. They lean into the absurdity of the concept and deliver legitimately great music from the perspectives of the ballplayers as characters. Shockingly, “The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience” might be one of the most brilliant and artistic pieces of content I’ve seen this year. With striking imagery and hilarious songs, it is a must-watch experience.
The Lonely Island built their reputation as writers for Saturday Night Live and became the show’s first big viral sensation. From “Lazy Sunday” to “Dick in a Box,” they found success. They’ve won an Emmy and received Grammy nominations. Their 2016 film, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping remains one of the most underrated films of the past five years. “The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience” continues to add to their growing legend. The three were all born in Berkely, California, within eyesight of San Francisco and Oakland. Samberg has been a long-time superfan of various Bay area teams, including the Warriors and A’s.
Embracing the phenomenon that was undeniably a piece of their youth, The Lonely Island pushes to find real pathos in the material. While songs like “Let’s Bash” and “Jose & Mark” are vintage Lonely Island tracks, “Focus on the Game,” “Feed the Beast,” and “Daddy” attempt to add more depth to the characters. Even though there’s comedy dripping off almost every line, the group delivers something special in these moments. The non-stop use of music also forces variation out from the Lonely Island as artists. The group excels most when creating the sound of each song, with some pulling from modern material while other beats work as excellent tributes to late 1980s hip hop.
From start to finish, “The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience” delivers on both laughs and fun music. The songs are arguably even stronger than the “Popstar” album, and will certainly create renewed interest in the group. The sheer ridiculous nature of the album will turn some away, but I promise you its worth every second.