Sure, you have your cosplay and your Star Trek, but Rap Industry Fan Fiction takes the genre to a place that it isn't know for going — hip-hop. The brainchild of UNC history major Kate Davis Jones and grad Drew Millard, the site makes good on titles like “Ice Cube Shows Ice-T His Model Train Set” and “Nicki Minaj Goes on a Date” (with El-P, whom she sacrifices to a volcano).
It is an idea whose time clearly has arrived, and it has gotten quite popular, quite fast. Their Tumblr is up over a thousand followers, and the site has garnered raves from Pitchfork and Huffington Post. With rumors of a book deal on the horizon, Millard and Jones spoke to West Coast Sound about Drake and Detox, and got them to improvise stories on the spot!
Which rappers would you most want to read RIFF?
Drew Millard: Drake, because we just did an entire week dedicated to him. Prodigy of Mobb Deep, because he just wrote a book and he might be looking for writing partners for his next one and we would offer our services at a severely discounted rate. Justin Bieber, because I would really like to write his radio freestyles for him.
Kate Davis Jones: I just want Drake to call me. I'll do anything.
Who was the most difficult to fictionalize?
Jones: One-hit wonders. I think it'd be funny to write about J-Kwon or Unk more, but it's difficult to fictionalize people effectively when you don't have real traits to tap into. With more established rappers, they already have a lot of songs, interviews, and a “persona” that guides how you write them in a fan fiction.
Millard: Rick Ross's existence basically defies fictionalization, because his public life is in and of itself an open facade. That, or Rick Ross is the most insane person ever. It's a toss-up, really.
I noticed you haven't done Eminem.
Millard: I had forgotten that Eminem was still a rapper until you pointed that out. At this point, he's transcended rap and gone to this place where he's within the canon of popular music in a way that I think a lot of rappers really haven't. Which is a long-winded way of saying that the last few Eminem albums have sucked.
Who are your favorite West Coast rappers to write about?
Jones: I like writing about Tyler, the Creator, because he's a weird kid who turns terrifying once you put him behind a mic. I think it's funny to pretend that his rap persona is who he is all the time, like he's some acolyte of Satan come to destroy the moral fabric of our society. And I like doing horror stories, so the chance to write about rappers cannibalizing other rappers is a plus for me.
Millard: Game seems to be sort of a sad dude in real life. I would like to hug him, and explain that everything is going to be okay. I personally am going to start writing more about Kendrick Lamar, because he looks and raps like a Vulcan from Star Trek. Freddie Gibbs counts as a West Coast rapper at this point, right? I want to write about him going to a convenience store and trying to buy some soda and the guy behind the counter is too afraid that he's there to rob the place that he just gives him all of the money in the register. Feel like that would make Freddie Gibbs sad, because he's probably a normal dude in real life.
Have you started planning what to write about Detox?
Millard: I'm envisioning a scenario in which Dr. Dre comes out with Detox and realizes that it sounds just like Chinese Democracy, down to the Buckethead guitar solos and that one song where Axl Rose sings like a vampire, and then recalls the entire shipment of CDs and starts over again.
Below, Jones and Millard freestyle rapper fanfic!
Please freestyle an L.A. rapper fanfic on the spot.
Jones: Tyga stood on the edge of the world. Long Beach was bustling with activity, but the Pacific Ocean was dark blue and silent in every direction. He wiggled his toes, burying then in the wet sand. The waves rolled forward and covered his feet, then retreated.
He was staring at the horizon through his sunglasses. He was wearing sunglasses in case someone recognized him. Even though he was shirtless, the sun beating down on all his unmistakable tattoos, no one had said anything to him yet.
Suddenly, his cell phone buzzed in his pocket.
“Yo did u see the performance on SNL??” the text message read. It was from his cousin, Travis — no, Travie — McCoy.
Tyga stared at the text message for a long moment.
He had seen the performance. It was good. Travie was a good performer. Tyga knew this. He typed a response: “yeah! congrats! r u excited to for my mixtape droppin later this month?”
His finger hovered over the “send” button, but he didn't press it. Instead, he frowned at the screen, and deleted the message.
It was a beautiful day in Los Angeles. He tried to focus on the feeling of the sun on his shoulders, and the cold Pacific waters on his feet. It was a beautiful day.
And you, Drew?
Millard: Gonna type this with my eyes closed while reading it off of my Blackberry so you know it's a freestyle:
Tyler, the Creator awoke with a start. The ghost of Tupac was standing in front of him. He looked so annoyed.
“Tyler,” he said.
“What's up, dude?” he said.
Tupac sighed. “I've come to warn you–“
“Look,” Tyler, the Creator said, “I know you've been here like fifty times before, but I still don't know who you are, and telling me that Selena Gomez wants to assassinate me just sounds like a bunch of bullshit, okay?”
“In seven fortnights, you will play a command performance for Justin–“
Tyler, the Creator threw an egg at the ghost of Tupac. It passed through him and hit the opposite wall of his bedroom.
“Whatever,” Tupac said. He disappeared and Tyler went back to sleep.