Damian Hess, AKA nerdcore rapper MC Frontalot, is about to turn your afternoon into a fairy tale with his new album, Question Bedtime. It's a hilarious and gloriously weird cycle of songs (available online now!) retelling the fairy tales you heard before bedtime as a child.
Actually, maybe you didn't hear these folk tales. Strained through Hess' trademark gentle (and not-so-gentle) sarcasm, they are definitely stories for adults.
The folk tales on the album come from sources around the world, reports Andy Hermann at the Daily Dot:
"Two Dreamers" is a Middle Eastern folk tale from One Thousand and One Nights about a formerly rich man seeking a fortune he sees in a dream. "Wakjakaga" is based on a Native American story that explains why we have wrinkly anuses.
Suffice to say, [Damian Hess] steered clear of certain well-worn stories. "The whole princess as femme in danger, passively receiving the benefits of some heroic male—that shit's pretty played out," he explains. "And then there's everything that Disney's ever done… I don't want anyone to get this record and be like, 'Oh, he's making songs out of Disney movies.'"
For many of his folk stories, Hess turned to another book from his childhood, an illustrated copy of World Tales by the Sufi author and scholar Idries Shah, who prefaced each tale in his book with a brief account of its many variants from cultures all over the world. "Folk tales as these things that exist in multiple brains and not in the imagination of some master artist—[as] kind of living, breathing, evolving pieces of culture—I got into that idea, too."
Depending on the kinds of stories you heard growing up, you'll recognize some of these stories and others will be completely new. In between songs, Hess has a series of goofy conversations with adults (including Paul Tompkins and Negin Farsad) he's been hired to babysit and put to bed. Of course, none of them want to go — and they protest with all the absurdity of children and all the snark of grown-ups. One asks for Hess to make him a Baked Alaska first, and another whines that she needs to do just one more W2 form.
Here's a sample track, "Much Chubbier," which manages to combine cute and menacing in its retelling of the Three Billy Goats Gruff story.
The result is a selection of songs that are charming, but also slightly disturbing, like all good fairy tales. Download a copy now, and spend the rest of your day humming along.
Learn more about the album on the MC Frontalot official site.