Star Wars Gangsta Rap
|Star Wars Gangsta Rap|
|Directed by||Thomas Lee|
|Written by||Jason Brannon
|Release date(s)||July 2000 (original)
July 2004 (SE)
|Running time||3.5 min|
The Star Wars Gangsta Rap is a parody song based on the original Star Wars trilogy. The song was later popularized as a Flash music video and was the first winner of the Audience Choice Award in the Lucasfilm-sponsored Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards.
The Star Wars Gangsta Rap started out as a song, written by Jason Brannon and Chris Crawford, with vocals by Brannon, drum machine by Crawford and Leonard, and keyboard by Brian Leonard. The group billed themselves as Bentframe.
Animator Thomas Lee discovered the rap in 2000 and used it as a basis to practice his developing Flash skills. This became the first (and most widely seen) version of the video. After showing the finished results to Bentframe, they together formed BentTV.
Due to the project's success, BentTV later created an improved version, referred to as the Special Edition, which debuted at the 2004 Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards. The audio track was not changed, but the visuals were completely redrawn, with improved color and shading and more detailed motion, all while emulating the relevant scenes in the movies more closely and adding more. The improvement in animation is analogous to Industrial Light & Magic's 1997 Special Edition film touch-ups.
The Star Wars Gangsta Rap loosely mixes plotlines from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in the Special Edition), satirically recreating several of the more famous scenes and dialogue.
The music video starts out on the back of the Star Destroyer, then reveals the image of Emperor Palpatine who claims "it's not the east or the west side." Darth Vader appears as a rapper sidekick and replies "No, it's not." This continues until the Emperor says "it's the DARK side", at which point Vader says "You are correct." The Emperor then threatens to blow up the planets of "all you Vader haters out there."
Darth Vader and the Emperor trade raps with each other during the first verse, until Vader proclaims, "he will join us or die, WE'VE GOT DEATH STAR!". Images of the Death Star flash in the background, and the line is repeated by Vader, while stormtroopers do a gangster rap wave in the background.
In the next verse, Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke to "use the force and run...", whereupon Luke takes his X-wing fighter to Dagobah. Yoda appears next, and he and Luke trade raps, until Luke gets back in his X-wing. During a brief intermission, he enjoys a "mighty good gin an' tonic", then flies to Cloud City and confronts Darth Vader. Darth Vader and Luke get into a lightsaber duel, Vader cuts off Luke's hand, then reveals that he is his father.
Awards and legacy
The Star Wars Gangsta Rap is one of the most popular flash videos of all time, with more than 20 million online views. Editors of Time magazine listed it as the Best Online Comedy Movie of 2001.
The film won the Audience Choice at the inaugural Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards in 2002, and aired in its entirety on the Sci Fi Channel special on the awards. Clips from Star Wars Gangsta Rap Special Edition were aired on the VH1 special When Star Wars Ruled the World in 2004.
It has inspired other similar works and imitations, notably The Lords Of The Rhymes, done very much in the style of the Star Wars Gangsta Rap but instead parodying The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
BentTV created a Star Wars parody cartoon in 1999 a fake advertisement for a Star Wars Christmas CD hosted by Han Solo.
Following its success, two more unofficial sequels titled "Star Wars Gangsta Rap 2" and then "Star Wars Gangsta Rap 3" were made which both incorporates references to the prequel trilogy. They feature far more explicit lyrics.
In November 2009, an official sequel titled "Star Wars Gangsta Rap: Chronicles" was released on atom.com.
- "Star Wars Fan Film Award Winners". Atomfilms.com.
- "Gangsta Rap Named Online Comedy of 2001". StarWars.com. January 22, 2002.
- "George Lucas Looks for New Lucases". People.com. January 18, 2002.
- "'Weird Al' Won't Back Down On Twelfth Album". Billboard.com. September 25, 2006.
- "Star Wars Gangsta Rap : Chronicles". Atom.com. November 10, 2009.
- Star Wars Gangsta Rap at the Internet Movie Database
- August 2004 Newgrounds interview with animator Thomas Lee
- Star Wars Gangsta Rap video by Bentframe