Mind you, this is not like the phenomenon of black gangsta rap — with its subversive crime-spree appeal and ghetto exoticism — that early on grabbed the attention of white kids. Instead, it's party music brewed from the point of view of the people who consume it.
Though, as Chad Boy of fratrap.tumblr.com points out, "This subgenre is more about the audience reached than the rappers themselves." The Allston-based Tumblr site has become an oft-referenced leading online resource for rush-week anthems. "You don't have to be part of a college fraternity to be considered frat rap," says Chad Boy, "and you don't have to be white either. You just have to make party music that suburban college kids relate to — music that teens around the country will push hard around the Internet. Forget about dismissing the idea of frat rap — as some of these guys like to do. The successful ones embrace the fan base, and they're taking it further than anyone ever imagined."
It's Halloween at the House of Blues in Boston and Sammy Adams is headlining. The place is swimming with slutty cops and cats and guys draped in togas. By the stage-right bar, an Amish Thor buys his Pocahontas a cocktail, but for the moment they're the only ones imbibing. Since most people here aren't of legal drinking age, they already got nice and nasty back in their college dorm rooms. Unable to reload at the House of Blues, the horde stays on the dance floor from start to finish, bopping hands in brilliant unison as if they're starring in a hop-hop-themed Pepsi commercial.
A gallery of parents stand off to the side and scope the crowd, making sure their vixen daughters don't get tongued by some drunken nimrod, or worse — wind up backstage with Sammy's posse. Before the Cambridge native arrives, DJ JayCeeOh — a veteran of Boston's underground rap scene who now opens shows for Adams — warms up the crowd with a smorgasbord of new Auto-Tune bangers and party poppers that, had they dropped 15 years ago, could have fit on any Jock Jams compilation.
Near the sound booth, a gaggle of older guys — college juniors and seniors — look slightly embarrassed that they're here. But after a round of PBRs and kamikaze shots they loosen up and begin rapping along to Lil Wayne and Drake songs. Before long JayCeeOh steps off, Sammy's set DJ mounts the decks dressed like the Karate Kid, and the energy begins to really percolate. The promise of Adams — teased by dimmed lights all around — is enough to summon howls, which only grow louder as he emerges in a hoodie, jeans, and an overcoat — a get-up more characteristic of a suburban dad fetching the newspaper in a snowstorm than of a typical rap star.
And then he rips the hoodie off, causing a number of young women to scream and cry, and inspiring some meatheads to flash their own six-packs. To cool things down, some dope launches a cup of ice cubes off the balcony, but no one on the floor seems to notice — not even a sexy and bedazzled Minnie Mouse who gets pelted right between her ears. Sammy spits some rhymes about hangovers, and about being "major without a major," says hi to his parents in the balcony, and then finally launches into "I Hate College" — the interpolation of Roth's "I Love College" that earned Adams his initial fan base two years ago.