A few weeks ago, the Heatwave Blog (www.theheatwave.co.uk/blog), which covers Caribbean music, posted an astounding five-song virtual EP of versions of "Benny Hill Riddim" by Leftside, which speeds up the recently deceased Boots Randolph's immortal 1958 hit, "Yakety Sax," aka the theme song from The Benny Hill Show. Leftside mostly grafts a four-square bass line and harder four-on-the-floor beat to the original quacking stomp, as well as a couple rudimentary synth lines. The result is not unlike slowed-down happy hardcore, that fairground-queasy kiddie-korn techno subsidiary.
But what Leftside does to "Yakety Sax" is nothing compared to what Elephant Man does to "Benny Hill Riddim." "No Tikkle" is one of the most ridiculous things Elephant Man has recorded, which is no small claim. Rhyming "Benny Hill" with "any hill" and "Benadryl," raising his pitch from auction-caller bracing to offhanded scream, Elephant Man, if anything, makes the manic associations we already have with that infernal honking saxophone line seem quaint as he yaps up a storm.
Who knows what possessed Leftside to cut "Cowboy," a version of his own riddim with a ridiculous faux-Southern American accent, fed through the most computer-y voice-altering box he could lay his hands on, drawling an ode to life as a pimp? In any case, with the exception of R. Kelly, it's practically impossible to imagine an American musician making a record this gaudily shameless that also works so well. In bastardizing at least four distinct styles (Jamaican dancehall, the '50s R&B of "Yakety Sax," country, and modern robo R&B stripper anthem), it's maybe the most American-in-spirit record of the year.
But "Cowboy" is still just a dry run for Timberlee's "Heels." First the young singer imitates a bubbleheaded American valley girl: "They're like Prada and Gucci and Versace!" Then she squeaks the chorus ("I'm/so/sexy in my heels") like she learned to talk from a Speak & Spell (or is talking through one) and intersperses the mall-rat voice with her normal patois. The whole thing is as dizzying as Randolph's saxophone, and it's funny on its own, not just in association.