The Bizarre History of Rap's Oldest Cliche
We've all seen it: When non-rappers pretend to rap, they improvise a beat, make silly hand gestures, and then, for some reason, their rhyme begins this way:
"My name is ____ and I'm here to say..."
That's usually followed by something like "I love _____ in a major way" or "I'm the ____est ______ in the U.S.A."
This has become the default archetype for how people who don't listen to rap think raps start. Folks have been doing it since at least the '80s and it continues full steam, such as when former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino decided to diss Jay Z and the Obamas on Fox News (video below).
"I'm [their name] and I [some definitive character trait or signature action]"
"I am Wonder Mike and I'd like to say 'Hello.'"
"Melle Mel and I'm here to say/ I was born on the 15th day of May."
That's it. There is no basis in hip-hop for the rash of faux rap that follows. But an answer may lie...
The 1940s Chiquita Banana song, while predating hip-hop by about 30 years, is perhaps the first time the couplet in some form was heard. Chiquita commercials featured different variations of the line, like the video above where a singing anthropomorphic banana seduces the banana-hungry public with:
"I'm Chiquita Banana and I've come to say/ Bananas have to ripen in a certain way."
"I'm the Master Rapper and I'm here to say/ I love Fruity Pebbles in a major way."
"It was in effect before then, but those guys took elements from [the rhyme scheme] and piggybacked off it. The audience would call in, and put their name or their tag in there, and they would create these situations every morning. 'My name is _______ and I'm here to say dadadaaddada in a major way' and it would always end 'That sounds cool and that may be, but dadadada'... When driving to work, I'd know I was on time when that segment came on and I was going over the George Washington Bridge."
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