Is this a joke?
Nope. It was April 1st, and Nick Cannon dropped his first album in 11 years, White People Party Music – and he posted pictures of himself on Instagram in, you guessed it, white face. But this is no April Fool’s joke; this is just Nick Cannon being Nick Cannon. See, Nick is a jack-of-all-trades. He’s a random assortment of show business skills – actor, comedian, talk show host, Mariah Carey’s husband (yes, that is a skill), and, of course, rapper. Although Nick is just a fun, spirited guy, it takes balls to drop an album called White People Party Music. In his own audaciously ridiculous way, his 17-track album offers a comedic social commentary on white folks, race issues and his solution to it all: just dance.
Nick doesn’t take himself too seriously on White People Party Music – but he does take the dance floor seriously. Most of the album sounds like a beer-pong party. Produced by Nick, Polow Da Don and DJ Buddah, the album also features Pitbull, Future, Akon, Migos and Afrojack. Nick’s lyrics poke fun at themselves, but they are weird enough to be interesting. The album opens with a slightly mellow “Looking for a Dream,” in which Nick pairs his family-friendly flow with a dance pop track that could have easily been cut by will.i.am. Hard core rap, this is not.
“Me Sexy” is a dance electric track that typifies much of the album. It gets the party started, in a goofy kind of way, with silly simple lyrics that call on all races to get out there and dance (a theme Nick uses again and again). “Everybody in the place, let me see your sexy face, Magnum/ BlueSteel”. The Zoolander rip-off is straight comedy.
A song like “Pajama Pants” (feat. Future) is no surprise on this album. Total goofy twerk song. Can’t help but laugh, though. “Phreakin Awesome” sounds like a comedic stand-up of white people impersonations. And then there’s “OJ,” as in the infamous OJ Simpson. How OJ Simpson ever made it into a chorus line – I’ll never know.
My mouth dropped open on “Shake it like a White Lady”. It starts off with a valley girl saying, “Whateeeeeverrr!”, then becomes Nick’s version of The Temptations, like a 1960’s soul-jam-meets-silly-white-girl-dancing commentary. He actually makes fun of white girl’s (stereotypical) lack of rhythm. “Hold up wait, are you dancing to the words, what beat are you on?” This is my favorite jam. Warning: It will get stuck in your head.
Never one to shy away from going over the top, Nick promoted his album by literally going white face. His alter-ego “Conner Smallnut” drew controversy and criticism all over the webisphere, and some people even called Nick racist. But Nick’s loving it, even retweeting posts. Still, he has been defending his alter-ego all over the talk show circuit. “I knew it would spark some controversy,” he said in a live interview on Good Morning America, “but I felt like it’s a conversation that we needed… Everybody’s really sensitive when it comes to race and that’s the reason I did it.” In addressing the difference between what he did and the idea of a white singer/rapper sporting black face, Nick emphasizes that it’s not the same, because black face is a sign of oppression. “There’s a big difference between humor and hatred,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Regardless of the backlash, hey, controversy sells albums. And honestly, this is genius marketing—it might just be audacious and comedic enough to fly. Despite the controversy, Nick really seems to want to bring people together on this album. With many songs calling out black, white, Asian, and Latino people, Nick is telling us all to get over ourselves, get on the floor and dance! Like I said, Nick’s a jack-of-all-trades.