Anyone else still got that supermarket song produced by the artist collective Fog and Smog stuck in their head?
Readers may recall the mock rage rap chronicles the story of a hipster in a Clipper hat, cruising through the parking lot of Whole Foods in Venice, California in his Prius, trying to find a parking space so he can stock up on overpriced Kombucha, kale, quinoa, and Pinot Noir at
Whole Pay Check, Whole Foods.
Since then, some 2.6 million people have watched the YouTube video, DJDave’s sung his song live, and it’s spawned several remixes, some with their own memorable lines.
A personal favorite of this reporter’s: from Delia Brown’s Revenge of the Black Prius:
You’re gangsta ’cause your shirt is made of hemp, hey?
I’m wearing a tampon made of tempeh.
Whole Foods has gone on record as loving the rough ride, no doubt subscribing to that old adage, bad publicity is better than no publicity.
There’s even some local intrigue: The singer-composer behind the catchy tune has copped a bit of good-natured flak from fellow rapper and homeboy LaeCharles Lawrence for not being “Berkeley enough.” LaeCharles, a former Whole Foods employee, has made his own Berkeley-centric remix.
Natch, the two duel it out in a follow-up rap with plenty of insider references to keep the locals happy (Edible Schoolyard, Cancun, and the recently shuttered Mario’s La Fiesta) in a hip hop number called, not surprisingly, U not Berkeley enough, with lyrics like: What do you mean dude? I still eat organic food.
Bay Area Bites caught up with David Wittman (aka DJDave) this week to get the scoop on the past few weeks and his more than 15 minutes of fame during a break filming an American Airlines commercial, which he scored the music for and appears in as a percussionist.
When we first spoke some 300,000 people had tuned in to listen to your Whole Foods blues. Now you’re well on your way to 3 million viewers. Are you surprised?
The numbers are creeping up but we thought it was funny and people would click on it and enjoy it. What’s surprised us is the media attention it has generated–the Huffington Post picked it up, Ryan Seacrest tweeted it, a bunch of celebrities have come out saying they like it. What I like best is the number of kids who love it. We’ve fielded comments like “thumbs up if your mom played this for you.” And people send us videos of little children, 4- or 5 year-olds, singing along to the chorus. I guess their parents play it and the kids pick up on the cadence and melodic hook.
Have you heard from Whole Foods?
They contacted me early on. I thought it was going to be a cease and desist kind of thing but they just wanted permission to put it on their site. Most people there thought it was funny, though I think some people still cringe at the 80 bucks for 6 things line. They’ve embraced it. And why shouldn’t they? It’s been good for their brand.
How many remixes has the rap song spawned and can you point us to a favorite?
There have been about 15 or 20 house remixes and a video remix with some pretty cool color manipulation and reconstructed mash up of Dr. Dre beats.
My favorite remix is by LaeCharles, whom I met last weekend while I was up in Berkeley deejaying at a friend’s wedding at the Lawrence Hall of Science. He had this little dig at me about my Berkeley credentials in his version, which was the impetus for my follow-up song. But he’s a big-hearted, creative, cool guy. We shot some footage together and we’re talking about doing something with it.
Any personal highlights for you over the last two months as result of this rap?
It doesn’t get any better than opening for Too $hort, a hometown legend whom I’ve listened to since I was 12, at a club called Eden in L.A.
Some people don’t get what the fuss is about or think your video is funny. And about 600 have disliked your song on YouTube. Your thoughts?
Sometimes I’m surprised by just how many people laugh at it because it’s a particular humor with a lot of personal references about a specific environment, stage of life, and kinds of products. It’s not for everyone, and that doesn’t bother me, you can’t win them all. What I don’t like is when people accuse me of ripping someone else off or appropriating another culture. I’m just trying to have a bit of fun doing something original with the musical influences I grew up with.
Can you even set foot in a Whole Foods store without people approaching you or parroting your lines back at you?
Funny you should ask that. My girl and I thought it might be a little crazy the first time we went back to the Whole Foods where we shot this video. I can report that it was underwhelming, basically zero response, which was reassuring in its own way.
You’re a professional composer. Have companies hit up the collective to help them create a catchy tune for their products?
We’ve been approached by companies who sell yoga stuff, skateboards, wine, and a health and wellness center. We’re considering everything but we want to wait for the right opportunity with the right musical fit and sensibility for us. We also have ideas as a collective for things we want to do on our own, this was supposed to be a creative outlet from our day jobs, not a money maker.
What’s the most out there offer that’s come your way since this clip hit the Internet?
I’ve been approached by casting directors from each of the major networks about the potential for a series. I’m not an actor. But I’m talking to agents and keeping my options open. That said, I’m not some wide-eyed kid. I’ve got a good job, a fiancee, and a rhythm and flow to my life. I’m staying grounded and honest.
Have any perks come your way as a result of this creative endeavor?
I got sent some Humboldt fog cheese, Kombucha, and a case of wine, mostly Pinot Noirs for under $20. Whole Foods sent a small gift certificate. These are just nice nods. We didn’t do this video expecting any kind of financial compensation. But these things are like cash to me ’cause they’re on my shopping list anyway.
What have you most enjoyed from this experience?
It’s been a fun ride. The best part has been getting emails from people that say stuff like “Thanks for making me laugh, that was fresh.” I dig it and I write back to everyone.
This post originally appeared on KQED’s Bay Area Bites.
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