VIDEO: "Interior crocodile alligator. I drive a Chevrolet movie theater."
Internet memes are kinda like wildfires: some asshole throws a cigarette butt out his car window, then he turns on the news the next day and the entire state is being evacuated and all the asshole can do is pull an Urkel voice and go, "Did I do that?" In this metaphor, as in most metaphors involving assholes, I am that asshole.
In September of 2007, a friend of mine played me a mixtape track by an up-and-coming Cleveland rapper known as Chip tha Ripper. It was an uncommonly hilarious freestyle packed with bizarre boasts and amazing taunts:
30s on my Chevrolet call me supa dupa
Garage like Roots, I got more whips than Kunta
Riviera sittin' on the Bulls' best hoopa
Y'all still ridin' 20s, y'all some Oompa Loompas
The greatest line, however, was the very last. Delivered with exaggerated, almost educational enunciation, it was a flamboyant whip boast the likes of which we'd never heard:
Interior crocodile alligator
I drive a Chevrolet movie theater
My friend rewound that line and played it over and over. It stuck out as an incredibly satisfying rap lyric, maybe the best couplet of the year: self-contained, perfectly symmetrical, and totally quotable (even if the only screen in my car is a digital clock still stuck on Daylight Saving Time). It handily beats Chamillionaire's analogous "so many screens up in the slab, I'm drivin' a computer lab" in the car-metaphor arena, which is where rap's most heated intellectual battles are fought.
Here's where the meme bit starts. I cut out a loop of the line to use as my cell's ringtone, finally replacing Mark Morrison's "Return of the Mack" after years of faithful service. Listening to an endless loop somehow made it 10 times funnier, so I paired it with a photo of a smug crocodile and posted it on Something Awful, a humor message board. Days later, an acquaintance grabbed the loop, dubbed it over some low-angle nature footage of a crocodile slithering across mud flats, and slapped it on YouTube.
Sometime around the middle of 2008, the YouTube video began to blow up. I don't know why. Maybe it caught on with some oddball Web community like 4chan.org. Or maybe the line's genius bubbled up out of pure digital entropy. On the Internet, these things just happen.
The clip now has just under a million views, dozens of video responses, a few remixes, and more than 10,000 comments — most of which are just the words "Interior crocodile alligator/I drive a Chevrolet movie theater" repeated over and over. According to EncyclopediaDramatica.com, the ultimate scholarly nexus of Internet stupidity, the clip " . . . has serious potential to become the next Rickroll [the wildly popular act of tricking unsuspecting victims into watching Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" video]. Like its predecessor, it's annoying, gets stuck in your head, and is easy to loop onto a misleading YouTube video. Unlike Rickroll, it sucks and was never funny."
(I'd disagree, of course, with the notion that the line isn't funny, but I'll admit that foisting it on the unsuspecting as a non-sequitur doesn't seem like the height of Internet humor.)
Now, the cult popularity of the video has even caught Chip tha Ripper's attention. A few weeks ago, the dude who posted the YouTube clip forwarded me a message from some folks at Chip's label (the beautifully named S.L.A.B. Entertainment) who were, no surprise, curious about the popularity of the clip. The video had received such massive exposure that they were even considering using the loop as the hook for an upcoming track. I got in touch with a dude named Kev from S.L.A.B. who was seriously excited about it:
"That shit is crazy . . . like, you don't understand. We showed so many people that shit. One day somebody out of the blue hit up Chip, like 'yoooooo, go to YouTube and type in "interior crocodile alligator" and watch the video!' And not even just the video you made . . . how many reply videos there are. We show that shit to everybody at the labels and [fellow Cleveland rappers] Cudi, Kidz in the Hall. . . . I got people cracking up on tape watching that shit, and amazed at the same time that something that simple of a loop would blow up."
Soon after that, I heard from tha Ripper himself: "I was sittin' in my crib when my homie told me to type in 'interior crocodile alligator.' Soon as I saw the first three videos, I was like 'Wow! This is a cult or something,' but I was lovin' it. I know for a fact that it has expanded my radar a little, if not a lot." As for the idea of using it as a hook, Chip is all for it: "Yeah! It's goin' down! It got such good response that I gotta make the official one! Coming soon."
So, yeah, how the hell did that happen? Through the arcane mysteries of the Internet, I inadvertently got some exposure for an awesome rapper, and now my favorite line of '07 might turn into the best hook of '09. I'll definitely be bumping it in my slab.