At 5:12 p.m. on July 10, 2010, substantial changes were made to the Wikipedia entry for DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s 1988 hit “Parents Just Don’t Understand.”
User Ernestp altered the song’s summary with his interpretation of the song’s narrative.
The Fresh Prince begins by expounding on the universal inability of parents to understand their children, suggesting that neither time nor location would make a difference in parents recognizing a child’s potential to err. He suggests, however, that it is incumbent on children to recognize the dimwittedness of adults and just accept this as a given.
Ernestp then takes us through the song’s many hijinks, which include an overbearing mother, a stolen Porsche, and a 12-year-old runaway; not the kind of good, clean, wholesome fun audiences have come to expect from Will Smith, star of such movies as Men In Black, Men In Black II, Hitch, and The Pursuit of Happiness.
The change was met with little to no fanfare and Ernestp closed up his user account a short time later.
Earlier this week a link to the Wikipedia synopsis of the 1994 Warren G and Nate Dogg hit “Regulate,” from the “Above The Rim” soundtrack, bounced around the internet. The summary gives a shot-by-shot breakdown of two young thugs out on an all night sex, drug, homicide and gambling romp. The entry also provides a great summation of the “G-Funk” sound, a style of music that sits comfortably at the nexus of mid-period Parliament and Michael McDonald’s solo 80s output, wherein rhythm, bass, and treble elements are all interchangeable. The description is dry and academic in tone and, the more times you read it, riddled with condescending and likely ironic latent racism. Or, as one acquaintance prefaced it when forwarding the link, “it’s written in language white people can understand.”
On a cool, clear night (typical to Southern California) Warren G travels through his neighborhood, searching for women with whom he might initiate sexual intercourse. He has chosen to engage in this pursuit alone.
Nate Dogg, having just arrived in Long Beach, seeks Warren. On his way to find Warren, Nate passes a car full of women who are excited to see him. Regardless, he insists to the women that there is no cause for excitement.
Warren makes a left turn at 21st Street and Lewis Ave, in the East Hill/Salt Lake neighborhood, where he sees a group of young men enjoying a game of dice together. He parks his car and greets them. He is excited to find people to play with, but to his chagrin, he discovers they intend to relieve him of his material possessions. Once the hopeful robbers reveal their firearms, Warren realizes he is in a less than favorable predicament.
The story unfolds and Nate Dogg and Warren G navigate themselves out of trouble and into the arms of a harem awaiting their arrival at the East Side Motel. This song too appears to have been written by Ernestp, with a host of other users both registered and anonymous jumping on board to add their own tweaks.
Both entries are part of WikiProject Songs, “a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of songs on Wikipedia.” Likewise both have sparked responses from the Wiki community at large, ranging from amused props to outrage and incredulity that such filth ever be allowed to penetrate their hallowed halls. The site has long been a bastion for hilarity, some intentional–the pithy one line descriptions of a dozen nearly identical Jandek album covers, the highly detailed biography of one “Ernst Choukula [who] was born the third child to Estonian landowers in the late autumn of 1873,” and who eventually dies “penniless and alone, having descended into a type of brain-madness” after his exploitation at the hands of General Peter Mills-and some that are totally in earnest. And these descriptions of hip hop classics were obviously written with the intent to provoke laughter.
Bits and pieces of straightforward recountings of hip hop classics already pop up sporadically on the site. Take for example this brief description of Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day”:
Throughout the song [Ice Cube] enjoys playing basketball, having sex, smoking marijuana (significantly, the song is 4:20 in length), getting drunk, going to his friend Short Dog’s house to watch Yo! MTV Raps and later win at Craps and Bones, eating fast food at 2 A.M., and cruising the streets of South Central undisturbed. He even sees the lights on the Goodyear blimp, which Ice Cube says it reads, “Ice Cube’s a Pimp.”
Two is funny but three is a trend piece and further digging unearthed an even earlier entry, this one for the Deth Row classic “Gin & Juice” from Snoop Doggy Dogg’s debut album “Doggystyle.” However, unlike the more recent two, a close examination of the changes made dating all the way back to 2005 offered no clues as to who authored this one. The entry, which does not pay as careful attention to detail, reads like a prototype of the style perfected with last month’s contributions. To wit:
We are introduced to the narrator, Snoop Dogg, as he discusses the difficulties of his life. He drives to his home at 2 AM. There is a house party at his home, as his wife is away.
Two lesbian women are copulating in his living room, and intend to do so for the next four hours. Naturally, Mr. Dogg and his associates decide to join the lesbian women. They present condoms to the lesbian ladies before turning off the lights and shutting the doors behind them.
Having a crisis of conscience, Snoop Dogg and his associates become racked with guilt, and decide to take the edge off by smoking one ounce of marijuana.
In the end nothing is resolved, as “It seems that the reason Mr. Dogg cannot commit to a long-term relationship is due to his preoccupation with driving under the influence while continuing to contemplate his finances.”
Since their popularity, neither Ernestp nor any new entries have surfaced-records show that only two entries were made from that account-and so rap fans and those who spend their time trawling Wikipedia’s vast archive are left only to wonder when this midnight marauder will strike again-and which Golden Age classic is next. Will we find out what happens by the time Chuck D arrives in Arizona? Does LL ever find true love with that around the way girl? Is a clear and concise explanation of PSK and what exactly it means somewhere on the horizon?