Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz of the Beastie Boys put in a guest appearance last night at Joe’s Pub in New York City to perk up a performance by his latest creative cohort, Champagne Jerry. Stepping onto the stage at the intimate venue, Ad-Rock and the spoof rapper ran through a rendition of a new softball-themed song, “Yo Kev!” to which Rock contributes a guest verse and production. The night also saw Champagne Jerry, who bills himself as “the greatest rapper in the world,” strutting around while brazenly showing off his genitals.
The Champagne Jerry story began when Max Tannone, the New York City-based DJ behind 2009’s Jay Z and Radiohead mash-up exercise Jaydiohead, encouraged his performance artist friend Neal Medlyn to pen some raps. The challenge led Medlyn to forge the character of Champagne Jerry, so named when the lead singer of Bridget Everett and The Tender Moments spotted him enthusiastically working through an entire bottle of bubbly on his own. Ad-Rock got in on the game and offered production on Jerry’s break-through Internet moment, a song titled “Tampa Realness” that features the rapper bragging about his “medium-sized” appendage and “sperm-covered hotel sheets” over a bass-heavy 808 drum-machine production.
Since then, Champagne Jerry has been building up to his debut album, titled For Real You Guys and scheduled for release next July, by dropping singles and beginning a series of monthly shows themed around each song. Last night’s shindig ran with a non-competitive softball setup as Ad-Rock emerged from the audience to the sounds of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” and tossed a baseball back and forth with Jerry while they engaged in pre-song banter on stage. (“Yo Kev!” is pitched as having an aspirational back-story, which sees Jerry and Ad-Rock starting off as small town kids with big sports dreams before becoming rappers who quaff champagne on the field.)
As the cavernous bass tones and rugged drums of “Yo Kev!” kicked in, Champagne Jerry and Ad-Rock traded rhymes onstage, with the latter clad in a baseball cap and t-shirt baring the slogan “Referee.” While Jerry’s rhymes included the boast “all of Taylor Swift’s songs are about me,” the Beastie Boy dropped scattershot lyrics that featured him bragging how he “pop bottles so hard got carpel-tunnel” and included references to all-day brunch and the chicken-tastic Brooklyn food spot Pies ‘n’ Thighs. The video to the song, which has the characters playing ball in a rough and tumble environment, also had its world premiere.
As Ad-Rock departed the spotlight to re-take his place in the audience, the rest of Champagne Jerry’s show unfurled like a peculiar mix of performance art and rap spoofery. He was accompanied on stage by two girls (one dressed like a Robert Palmer girl mixed with an office worker, the other with a permanently nonplussed expression on her face), along with Max Tannone and a hype man. Bottles of bubbly – “Adam bought us some Ferrari champagne,” quipped Jerry at one point – were permanent props as Jerry interspersed his songs with ambitious banter like, “This is my year, I own it – I bought the URL.” “Tampa Realness” was greeted uproariously by the crowd, as was the sight of Jerry taking to the stage clad only in a bomber jacket and a wooden polar bear medallion as he revealed the schtick of rapping while naked from the waist down. The stunt resonated like some sort of warped rap burlesque. Champagne Jerry then closed out the night by diving into a pool of (presumably fake) money on stage as one of his Champagne Club girls doused him with a bottle of his signature tipple.