Daniel Radcliffe stunned the hip-hop and TV-viewing communities on Tuesday night’s episode of The Tonight Show, delivering an epic, word-for-word version of Blackalicious’ mind-numbing 1999 track “Alphabet Aerobics.”
In the above clip, host Jimmy Fallon triggers the stunning performance by asking the actor about his love of music. The audience giggles when Radcliffe notes his appreciation for rap, including rhythmic gymnasts like Eminem. “I think I was the first kid in my class to learn the words to ‘The Real Slim Shady,'” he says, emphasizing his obsession with memorizing “complicated, lyrically intricate and fast songs.” Fallon then presents Radcliffe with a microphone and asks him to prove his rapping ability by tackling the complex Blackalicious workout.
Dude seriously has some skills. Backed by the Roots, the actor nails every line in the alphabetized track as the tempo gradually accelerates. Meanwhile, Fallon holds up corresponding letter cards in the background, sort of like Bob Dylan in the “Subterranean Homesick Blues” video.
The performance really hit close to home for the Roots. Years before they were Tonight Show musicians, the group was leading the underground hip-hop movement of the mid-to late Nineties, which also included Blackalicious. After taping the episode, Questlove tweeted to the members of rap duo with a tease: “dear @realgiftofgab & @ChiefXcel make sure you and the entire @blackalicious_ fan base watches & dvr’s #FallonTonight. trust. #!!!!!!!!”
Elsewhere in the episode, Radcliffe and Fallon goof off by swapping vocal impersonations: Radcliffe imitating a Texan, and Fallon trying his hand at a Cockney accent. In the below clip, the actor says he learned to do an American accent in part by watching lots of WWF – and favorite wrestler, The Rock. Radcliffe even makes a pitch that he and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson should team up for a buddy film comedy.