On the season premiere of "Saturday Night Live," Justin Timberlake made light of his long absence from music in a sketch with Andy Samberg,
stalking offstage in mock indignation when asked if he'd make another
album soon (his last studio record came out in 2006). While plugging
his new movie "The Social Network" on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon"
last night, the singer obliged fans with an all-too-brief return to the
microphone -- to run through 15 hip-hop classics in a hilarious duet
What was clearly a cleverly planned and carefully
rehearsed medley began with a seemingly spontaneous chat about "Late
Night" house band the Roots. Fallon asked Timberlake if he'd grown up
with hip-hop, and talk turned to legendary late-'70s crew the Sugarhill
Gang. Moments later, the two were out of their seats, microphones in
hand, rhyming along to the group's sing-songy classic "Rapper's
Delight." With drummer ?uestlove and the Roots providing the backbeat,
the pair then ran through brief verses from over a dozen more memorable
hits, including the Beastie Boys' "Paul Revere" and Digital
Underground's "The Humpty Dance" (which featured some pelvis shaking as
the duo replicated the video's choreography). They took a detour
through some of West Coast rap's most iconic anthems -- Snoop Dogg and
Dr. Dre's "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" and Tupac Shakur's "California
Love" -- before busting out one of the East Coast's most famous jams,
the Notorious B.I.G.'s "Juicy" (see the full list of tracks in the
"History of Rap" below).
The hip-hop history lesson careened
through some early-2000s smashes (Eminem's "My Name Is" and Missy
Elliott's "Work It") before Timberlake and Fallon broke into more
current hits: T.I.'s "Live Your Life" (with Timberlake crooning
Rihanna's parts in falsetto), Kanye West's "Gold Digger" (with Fallon
handling Jamie Foxx's yelped vocal), and Jay-Z and Alicia Keys's
ubiquitous "Empire State of Mind." With the crowd on its feet, the duo
reprised "Rapper's Delight" and gave each other a well-earned
If Fallon's ability to keep up with the
multitalented Timberlake came as a surprise, let us remind you Fallon
has woven musical performances into his comedy bits since his days on
"Saturday Night Live," where he'd sing holiday songs on Weekend Update
and on a recurring Bee Gees-inspired skit, "The Barry Gibb Show." The latter, incidentally, saw Timberlake regularly teaming up with
Fallon for a fictional political chat program hosted by the
disco-classic brother act.
Most recently, Fallon covered Bruce
Springsteen's "Born to Run" to open up the 2010 Emmy Awards, and later
in the show impersonated Elton John, Boyz II Men, and Green Day's
Billie Joe Armstrong during a medley devoted to three canceled TV
Timberlake's comedy chops are nothing new, either: He won an Emmy in 2007 for one of the most famous
musical parodies in recent memory, his saucy "SNL" digital short with
Samberg that mocked cheesy '90s R&B.
"History of Rap" Track List:
Sugarhill Gang, "Rapper's Delight"
Run-DMC, "Peter Piper"
Beastie Boys, "Paul Revere"
A Tribe Called Quest, "Award Tour"
Digital Underground, "The Humpty Dance"
Snoop Dogg feat. Dr. Dre, "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang"
Tupac Shakur, "California Love"
The Notorious B.I.G., "Juicy"
The Roots, "The Seed"
Eminem, "My Name Is"
Missy Elliott, "Work It"
Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, "Crank That (Soulja Boy)"
T.I. feat. Rihanna, "Live Your Life"
Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx, "Gold Digger"
Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys, "Empire State of Mind"