by Jon Wiederhorn
Those who call the third album by comedy rap trio The Lonely Island "Wack" aren't being derisive, they're just being descriptive. And the group, which features "Saturday Night Live" alum Andy Samberg and former show co-writers Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone have done everything short of selling Schafer's two children to make sure The Wack Album is as outrageous, entertaining, and star-studded as their 2011 record Turtleneck & Chain, which featured guest performances by Justin Timberlake, Beck, Akon, Snoop Dogg, Rihanna and even Michael Bolton.
On The Wack Album, which comes out June 11, Timberlake returns for his third appearance with the group along with Lady Gaga on the track "3-Way (The Golden Rule)." Elsewhere, Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar guest on the lead single "YOLO," Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong contributes to "I Run NY," T-Pain takes over "I F--ked my Aunt" and Too $hort contributes to "The Compliments." But possibly the most surprising guest appearance comes from Hugh Jackman on the song "You've Got the Look."
The sultry rap track is about a scantily girl in a club seeking attention ...by exposing one of her breasts. "I'd like to think you were looking in the mirror/ Said to yourself, 'Something’s not right here.'/ Time to shake things up, so you shook one out/ Your hair wasn't working so you took one out."
Samberg explained how Jackman wound up rapping about an exhibitionistic woman: "I played [Jackman] on 'SNL' and did a terrible impression of him," said Samberg. "It was all about how he plays two sides in his career, where he's this Broadway guy but he's also the action hero. And he loved it, so he came on 'SNL' and played Daniel Radcliffe and I played him again. When we went to do 'You've Got the Look,' I had done all the temp vocals and we were brainstorming about who would be the best guest star. Akiva said, 'How about Hugh?' And I was like, 'I kinda know him!' So we sent it to him and he said, 'Yes, absolutely.'"
Since Jackman's not a natural rapper, the guys in The Lonely Island walked him through his parts. But for more actual hip-hop professionals, the comedians usually gave them a little guidance and then let them loose.
"On the song we did with Phrarell Williams, 'Hugs,' we wrote all the choruses that he sang the hooks on, but then there was a bridge rap section and we gave him talking points and he wrote that section himself," Samberg said. "And Kendrick Lamar on 'YOLO,' he came to the studio and sat there and wrote a verse really quickly on his iPhone. We didn't know what he was going to do until he was recording. And then of course it was great.
"And with a singer like Adam Levine, there was a version of me doing a temp singing part much worse than him," Samberg continues. "And then he came in and made it much better."
The YouTube videos that The Lonely Island have released so far have been just as, if not more successful, than their actual album tracks. "YOLO" accrued over 42 million views in just three months. And the group has over 1.2 billion overall views on its YouTube channel.
For about a month now, The Lonely Island have been previewing songs from The Wack Album with their Wack Wednesdays videos. So far, they've posted clips for "Spring Break Anthem," which co-starred Zack Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Norton and James Franco; "Diaper Money," "Semicolon" (featuring Solange); and "Go Kindergarten" (featuring Robyn).
New content will continue post on their YouTube channel up until release date.
"We’re just taking a page out of Kanye West's old notebook that he doesn't use anymore," joked Taccone.
"We just thought, 'We're not on 'SNL' anymore and we want to make sure people know we have a record," added Samberg. "So we figured if we had a time and place people could know they could check in for new stuff, it would be helpful. But it's been fun. It's been like being in our own mini-'SNL' cycle, where we're posting things and feeling like we're connecting with an audience."
The full track list for The Wack Album:
1) Dramatic Intro
2) Go Kindergarten (feat. Robyn)
3) Hugs (feat. Pharrell Williams)
4) Diaper Money
5) YOLO (feat. Adam Levin & Kendrick Lamar)
6) Spell it Out
7) Semicolon (feat. Solange)
8) Where’s Brooklyn At? (Interlude)
9) You’ve Got the Look (feat. Hugh Jackman & Kristen Wiig)
10) I'm a Hustler (Song?)
11) Spring Break Anthem
12) I Run NY (feat. Billie Joe Armstrong)
13) I Don't Give a Honk
14) 3-Way (The Golden Rule) (feat. Justin Timberlake & Lady Gaga)
15) Meet the Crew
16) I F--ked my Aunt (feat. T-Pain)
17) We Are a Crowd
18) The Compliments (feat. Too $hort)
19) We Need Love
20) Perfect Saturday