This essay originally appeared in the February 1993 issue of SPIN, which was partially written and guest-edited by members of the SNL cast. SNL cast member Ellen Cleghorne takes a wild jab at what hip hop culture in America will look like 17 years later, in 2010, and worries about gentrification and what will come of the rap icons of the time.
When I was a kid, not in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that one day Ringo Starr would be hosting Shining Time Station. The former Beatles drummer starring on an insipid PBS kiddie show as a miniature conductor superimposed onto a cartoon background telling stories about how to live one’s life? Give me a break! Watching yesterday’s rock heroes grow old is tough; but envisioning today’s hip hop stars as old folks is some scary shit.
It’s the year 2010: Chris Smith and Chris Kelly, otherwise known as Kris Kross, are in their 30s. Chris Smith is the father of two five-year-olds—each by a different woman. (Come with me now, it’s just me dreaming America. You know, in reality he’ll probably be a grandfather by 30. Most black men are—if they know where and who their kids are.) His kids will be asking, “Dad, tell us again how in ’92 you had the whole world jumping at your every command. Just kids, right? Grown people? No way. Black and white? Wow! Unbelievable!” (Yeah, that’s how five-year-olds will talk in the next century, too. After all, by then, Nintendo and Sega Genesis cartridges will be like eight-track tapes—back, the stuff of wry comedians’ punchlines.)
Chris Kelly’s kids will be classmates of KRS-One’s grandkids—and N.W.A’s kids, too. Not in the ghetto, though, since South Central, the topic of most hard-core hip hop cuts, won’t be the ghetto anymore. It will be the new Beverly Hills—they’ll call it South Central Heights, ‘cause that’s the way life goes. You know, it’s called gentrification—slaves used to live in the village, now it’s homeless people selling used Pampers.
In 1992, Flavor Flav is rapping about how 911 is a joke while beating his woman Karen’s ass down a Queens boulevard. In 2010, it’ll be different: His teeth will be rotten, ‘cause he never brushed under the gold caps. And he’ll be doing commercials for Efferent: “I am a denture wearer and I play one on TV.” Flag’s grandkid will say, “Grandpa, exactly why did you have that big clock around your neck? Were you trying to make a statement about running out of time?” No, I was trying to learn to tell time. “In your videos, it looks like Chuck D did all the work and you just said, ‘Yea,’ a lot.” Yeah, I did, but people used to come to see me dance. “Grandpa, do you mind going in the other room for a while? You’re embarrassing me in front of my friends—you look more like a rodeo clown than a rapper in them clothes.” And of course, he’ll say, Shut the fuck up, you little bastard. I was the man.
And what about Chuck D? Give him till 2010, when Macauley Culkin is President. He’ll be the next Jesse Jackson, giving speeches that rhyme, gushing peace and racial harmony. “Hey, Chuck,” someone who remembers him from the way back will say. “Yo homey, what about ‘Bass, how low can you go? / Death row, what a brother know? Didn’t you say ‘Noriega had back’? ‘Power to the people and the beats’?” Yeah, I said those things—but it was a different time then. Now I’m on a crossover label. By the way, I”m going to be hosting a new version of an old game show called Name That Tune. I’m kind of the new Bill Cosby. Only difference is, if you miss a question, you get shot. It’ll be sponsored by the National Rifle Association.
Queen Latifah, 2010, joins Hattie MCDaniel and Whoopi Goldberg as the third black woman to win the Academy Award for best supporting actress. The movie? Gone With the Wind: The Next Generation. And with her new Academy Award status, Latifah will be chosen as the replacement for the aging Vanna White, turning letters on Wheel of Fortune.
Ice-T will be starting to plan a run for President in 2012—with two Academy Awards under his belt. He’ll be married to Mary Stuart Masterson (“Damn, she can fry up some tomatoes,” he’ll be quoted as saying in People magazine). And he’ll be denouncing everything: “Cop killer” was a figure of speech. Cops are our friends—the Rodney King thing was self-provoked. And guess who’ll be his running mate. Did someone say David Duke? I didn’t.