From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]






Chocolate Rain
Some stay dry and others feel the pain
Chocolate Rain
A baby born will die before the sin

Chocolate Rain
The school books say it can’t be here again
Chocolate Rain
The prisons make you wonder where it went

Chocolate Rain
Build a tent and say the world is dry
Chocolate Rain
Zoom the camera out and see the lie

Chocolate Rain
Forecast to be falling yesterday
Chocolate Rain
Only in the past is what they say

Chocolate Rain
Raised your neighborhood insurance rates
Chocolate Rain
Makes us happy ‘livin in a gate

Chocolate Rain
Made me cross the street the other day
Chocolate Rain
Made you turn your head the other way

Chocolate Rain
History quickly crashing through your veins
Chocolate Rain
Using you to fall back down again

Chocolate Rain
Seldom mentioned on the radio
Chocolate Rain
Its the fear your leaders call control

Chocolate Rain
Worse than swearing worse than calling names
Chocolate Rain
Say it publicly and you’re insane

Chocolate Rain
No one wants to hear about it now
Chocolate Rain
Wish real hard it goes away somehow

Chocolate Rain
Makes the best of friends begin to fight
Chocolate Rain
But did they know each other in the light?

Chocolate Rain
Every February washed away
Chocolate Rain
Stays behind as colors celebrate

Chocolate Rain
The same crime has a higher price to pay
chocolate Rain
The judge and jury swear it’s not the face


Chocolate Rain
Dirty secrets of economy
Chocolate Rain
Turns that body into GDP

Chocolate Rain
The bell curve blames the baby’s DNA
Chocolate Rain
But test scores are how much the parents make

Chocolate Rain
‘Flippin cars in France the other night
Chocolate Rain
Cleans the sewers out beneath Mumbai

Chocolate Rain
‘Cross the world and back its all the same
Chocolate Rain
Angels cry and shake their heads in shame

Chocolate Rain
Lifts the ark of paradise in sin
Chocolate Rain
Which part do you think you’re ‘livin in?

Chocolate Rain
More than ‘marchin more than passing law
Chocolate Rain
Remake how we got to where we are


Contact Tay Zonday!

First and Last Name:
E-Mail Address:
Phone Number:
Business Web Site Or Portfolio:

I Am A: Client Interested In: Potential Voice/Music Services:
Journalist Seeking Information for Publication or Feature: Agent or
Promoter In Voiceover, Film, Literature, Entertainment, or Other
Industries Interested in Tay as a Client: Musician Interested In
Collaborating: Supporter or Critic with Constructive Feedback: Other




“A bizarre event on YouTube yesterday set off rumors that the site had
been hacked: Tay Zonday, a sort of William Hung for the YouTube
generation who may or may not be in on the joke, suddenly dominated
the Featured Videos list. His song, Chocolate Rain (embedded above)
and a number of responses from equally talented individuals were
seemingly picked to fill all the featured slots that day.

Was YouTube being uncharacteristically ironic with its video choices?
A post on the YouTube blog (pulled from Google cache) seemed to
confirm that they were, and attracted negative comments from those
content creators desperate to be featured:

Tay Zonday Day

What’s up with “chocolate rain”? Many of you have been following
the rapid rise and response videos surrounding a music video from a
unique talent. To give proper credit to the millions who have bonded
with Tay Zonday and his song “Chocolate Rain,” we’ve gathered the 12
responses with the best rating and comments and are displaying them on
our home page – but just for a day.

“To those of you who haven’t already gotten caught in the rain, we
hope it inspires you to add your response. (And let us know if you
enjoy features or home page “takeovers” like this!)”

The YouTube Team

Meanwhile, the 4chan /b/ forum claimed responsibility for having
“hacked” the site, which seemed to contradict the fact that YouTube
had blogged about it – unless the blog had been hacked too. Today,
however, the post has been deleted and only one Chocolate Rain video
remains in the Featured list.

There are a few possibilities here: either YouTube was indeed hacked,
or the YouTube team thought better of their widely criticized decision
to hold “Zonday Day”, and pulled the clips and the blog post. Of
course, pulling a blog post without explanation only attacks more
attention. So which is it?”



August 13, 2007 – Monday

A Cocky Brag Track? “The Only Way” Exposes A Major Crisis In The
Intellectual Life Of Hip-Hop

Category: Music

“So I put the “The Only Way” video up on Youtube yesterday . . . not
long after adding it to MySpace. I am not an artist who identifies
with any type of music. But this was a hip-hop song.

Some people who enjoy and support my other videos found “The Only Way”
to be cocky and arrogant. “[I like your other stuff] but there’s no
need to brag” was the gist of one comment. Of course, there are also
vocal haters criticizing every related and unrelated aspect of the
song. (Tay Zonday rule 1: Haters won’t pay you money but they will
always pay you attention. The second leads to the first).

“The Only Way” is too easily typecast as a “Cocky Brag Track.” The
problem is not that haters see it this way. The problem is that a
mainstream audience sees it this way. The question becomes “Why is a
mainstream audience likely to experience ‘The Only Way’ as a cocky
brag track?”

The song is actually about me taking the form of various underdogs.
The chorus–“The only way is Tay Zonday”–uses me as a metaphor for
education and political consciousness. “The Only Way is Tay Zonday”
basically means “The only way is being educated about your
relationship to power and taking action.” Lets explore the lyrics:

“I’m the piper of record” [I am a messenger. I am an educator. This is
also a play on the New York Times, the “paper of record”]

“Beloved and respected” [Well? What’s wrong with education being
beloved and respected?]

“Mac Daddy of all of the down and rejected” [Tay Zonday brings
consciousness to the down and rejected.]

“I’m the talented tenth.” [This is a play on W.E.B. DuBois’s
problematic idea of an educated class.]

“The chill in your spine. The glimmer of hope in the back of your
mind.” [I’m that moment where education gives you a chilling hope of
human possibility].

“I’m the rising Aquarius. Galaxy Patriot. Space is the place where I’m
riding my chariot.” [ I’m not beholden to any national boundry. I’m a
plain ‘ol patriot, not one type or another. This is also a homage to
Sun Ra’s early 1970s single “Space Is The Place” . . . because New Age
Bebop was very much about removing onesself from the boundaries of
human pettiness].

I could go on and on unpacking the lyrics.

But the problem is that a mainstream audience is not prone to hear it
this way. They are prone to hear it as:

“Tay Zonday is the greatest and I’m going to make you listen to me
mastrubate to my own greatness for 3 minutes, 42 seconds . . . so that
I can advance my career and build my own empire.”

Not only is a mainstream audience prone to hear it this way — some of
them are turned off by it because they hear it this way.

So here’s the next question: “When a mainstream audience sees someone
flamboyantly rapping about their name, what is that person usually
talking about?”

Maybe you see what I’m getting at: When a mainstream audience hears
“The Only Way,” their brain does a calculation. It goes “Young black
man flamboyantly rapping about his stage name . . . .  he must be
rapping about the hood, bitches, hoes, G’s, drugs, vendettas, and how
he’s better than anyone else for mastering it.”

Now, I don’t judge anybody who raps about that stuff. Whatever is real
is real to the performer.

BUT return to the problem of the mainstream audience.

I realize that good people in the mainstream audience, like the
surburban mom who is my fan because her two-year-old sings Chocolate
Rain, have been fed a very narrow-minded view of what flamboyantly
speaking words to a beat represents.

So they hear a song like “The Only Way” – and all of a sudden it
conjures up the media’s very very narrow representation of what
rapping can mean. Because when they turn on the radio or watch the
television, they get the impression that the “Cocky Brag Song” is all
that the act of rapping is.

Then they tell me “Gosh Tay. That’s a Cocky Brag track. I thought you
were above that stuff.”

“The Only Way” exposes a profound crisis of miseducation.

Because if a mainstream audience actually heard the variety of spoken
word art that is out there on a regular basis, they would not hear
“The only way is Tay Zonday” and translate it to “Tay Zonday is the
Mack Daddy of life, bitches, and hoes.” ”

9:17 AM – 40 Comments – 51 Kudos – Add Comment

August 2, 2007 – Thursday

Category: Blogging

My schedule today:

1:30A: Wake up in a cold sweat wondering what in blazing heck is wrong
with my life that I’m not getting any work done on my grad school
exams. Have acute visions of poverty and homelessness if I don’t get
my day-job ass in gear.

7:30A: Interview with 91X Radio San Diego

9:00A-1:30P: VH1 crew (segment producer, camera operator, audio
engineer, makup artist) come to my apartment to film a Chocolate Rain
parody for VH1’s Best Week Ever It should air tomorrow. I think.

2:30-3:15P: Work with a producer to get a webcam working to do an
interview with Fuse.TV scheduled next week. Still would not work.

3:15-5P: Take a break to add 450 MySpace friends and approve the last
36 hours or so of posts. This daily task takes way too much
time . . .  setting MySpace posts to approve is almost as inconvenient
as deleting the spam and porn that it is supposed to stop.

5P-6:30P: Long talk with an LA Times reporter about an article
scheduled for a week from Sunday

6:45-7P: Plan an interview for tomorrow morning with 96.5TheBuzz in
Kansas City . . . regional radio interviews are becoming a morning

7P-?: Continue e-mail interview for a potential Yahoo! News
piece . . .  respond a bit slowly (36 hours) to solicitations from
Toronto Star and others.

Several other things I could mention but my head is already too full.

5:16 PM – 14 Comments – 28 Kudos – Add Comment

PAGING MR. GLADWELL,0,4608537.story?coll=la-home-center

A downpour of ‘Chocolate Rain’
Tay Zonday, a grad student in Minneapolis, becomes a YouTube star with
his original song — and on-screen message.

By David Sarno  /  August 12, 2007

MANY of the most explosive and virulent online videos — think: “Star
Wars Kid,” “Numa Numa” and the recent interpretation of “Thriller” by
Filipino prisoners — manage to be at once bizarre, hypnotic and
borderline upsetting. Tay Zonday’s new hit YouTube song, “Chocolate
Rain,” is no exception.

“Chocolate raiiiiiin,” belts Zonday again and again, in a voice so
cavernously deep that it couldn’t possibly be coming from the skinny,
sweet-faced young boy on the screen (he’s actually 25). “Some stay dry
and others feel the pain. Chocolate raaaiiiin.”

Helping this refrain to super-glue itself into your mind is the short,
looping piano phrase that is the song’s musical backbone. The riff is
replayed, with minor variations, something like 50 times — the same
number that Zonday chants “Chocolate rain.” This repetition is such
that a single viewing will have you twitchily blurting these two words
for hours afterward, disconcerting friends and strangers alike.

But the video’s most unforgettable element, and perhaps its viral
tipping point, is the message that flashes across the screen during
the first minute: “**I move away from the mic to breathe in.” Then,
true to his word, the earnest-looking Zonday jerks his head back every
10 seconds for the rest of the song. The result is more than amusing.

As the initial puzzlement wears off and you begin to actually listen
to the lyrics, you quickly become aware of “Chocolate Rain’s” central
contradiction: Hold on a second — “some stay dry and others feel the
pain”? This is a song about racism. But . . . racism is not funny. But
“Chocolate Rain” is funny . . . or . . . maybe it’s not. But isn’t it?

Either way, “Chocolate Rain” has become a force of nature. As of this
writing, the video has earned 4.2 million YouTube views. In the likely
case that it scores an additional 250,000 hits, the song will break
into the YouTube music category’s top 100 of all time. When it does
so, “Chocolate Rain” will be one of only a handful of self-produced
songs on the list — and the only one that’s not an instrumental.

Yet there are even better measures of “Chocolate Rain’s”
reverberations around the Net. Not only do its 50,000 comments make it
YouTube’s ninth-most-discussed video ever, but “Chocolate Rain” has
spawned such a tidal wave of remixes, riffs, covers, mash-ups,
cartoons and spoofs that only “Numa Numa” and “Star Wars Kid” may have
more imitators.

Nor is Zonday a one-hit wonder. All 17 of his YouTube videos have
achieved impressive success. His karaoke version of Rick Astley’s 1987
pop hit “Never Gonna Give You Up” has scored 825,000 hits. In “Canon
in Z,” Zonday, clearly a skilled pianist, performs an original
arrangement of Pachelbel’s Canon (100,000). Even a video of Zonday
reading sonorously from Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” has
drawn 130,000 views.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to get a little help from YouTube. The
site’s editors have featured several of Zonday’s recent videos on
their homepage, where a video can get tens of thousands of hits in an
hour. On July 26, “Chocolate Rain” was even featured by YouTube
alongside several of its pretenders.

It’s not hard to understand YouTube’s interest in promoting “Chocolate
Rain,” or Zonday. Though both video and artist are a little wacky and
chuckle-inspiring, they are fundamentally unlike “Star Wars Kid” or
“Numa Numa” — which draw heavily on the freak factor. Though Zonday
may not be destined for pop megastardom, neither is he a joke: He’s a
talented musician who not only writes and produces original songs but
can also shoot and edit them into videos.

The success of “Chocolate Rain,” then, sends just the kind of message
YouTube wants its users to get: You don’t have to be Avril Lavigne, OK
Go or My Chemical Romance to produce a video people want to see —
anyone can do it.

Zonday himself is a believer in YouTube’s potential to tap into a
global pool of bedroom artists who might not be comfortable performing
“in front of people.” In the old, unconnected days, Zonday said, these
musical introverts would’ve had to settle for “a life passion that’s
basically between them and a wall.”

But with YouTube, “it’s them, the wall and a camera. The camera
becomes a way to be social with other people.”

On the phone from Minneapolis, Zonday described himself as just such a
person. He grew up in a strict household where his parents were
“always relatively scared of pop culture” and he was “never really
allowed to do things that a lot of people my age did.” So he went to
his room, “shut out the world,” and taught himself to play.

Zonday, a PhD candidate in American studies at the University of
Minnesota, had trouble even naming his musical influences. “I feel
like I have a very limited vocabulary in that regard,” he said,
adding, “but in some ways I think that can be an asset.”

Indeed, tunes like his funky hit “Internet Dream” don’t seem to have
any obvious cultural antecedents. The song, which many YouTube
commenters seem to agree is “better than ‘Chocolate Rain,’ ” is about
how much time we waste playing video games and messing around online
— not exactly the stuff of Barry White ballads.

But still, the views pile on. Even many of Zonday’s lampooners admire
him. “One thing I am sure of is that Tay Zonday is something special,”
said Londoner Russ Houghton, 30, whose popular “Chocolate Rain” parody
redubs the original with absurdist lyrics. (“Chocolate rain / Before
using your bicycle, always check your brakes”). “I’m a fan, and I
think he’s a star, even if it’s for slightly ironic reasons.”

Another hilarious spoof comes from Ryan Nowels, an audio engineer in
Oklahoma City. Nowels leaves Zonday’s lyrics and music intact but
takes Zonday away from the mike and replaces him with a hand-puppet of
McGruff the Crime Dog.

Zonday is aware that “Chocolate Rain” didn’t take off until “people
started to engage it as humorous,” as he put it, implying that it was
not necessarily intended that way. He did however admit to its being

“If 1% of people get a sense that it’s about something deeper, you
take that gain and move forward,” said Zonday, who studies the
relationship between performance and social movements. “If everyone
else is just entertained, then that’s that.”

{david [dot] sarno [at] latimes [dot] com}