Shortly after getting kicked out of hip-hop group The Pharcyde, Fatlip embarked on a solo career. Looking at himself in the mirror, he realized he didn’t like what he saw and out of the darkness of this moment of his life came the light of his most universally beloved song: “What’s Up, Fatlip?”
The tune talks about the end of youth in the most brutally honest of ways. Fatlip’s lines are far from being politically correct, so specific and self-lacerative that it almost feels like he is reading a suicide note. Despite this, a recurring laughter track gives it all an air of farce and comedy, the tragic irony that makes it all the more compelling.
Fatlip drops his lines in his trademark conversational way over a syncopated, looping beat and the sound of a toy piano tinning in the distance, evoking a childish innocence that seems long gone. The Spike Jonze video for the song represented the tragicomedy of the scene to perfection; while filming it, the director also shot a series of interviews with the hip-hop artist and put them together in a documentary of the same name.
“You know the routine, when you winnin’ and grinnin’ / All up in your face like they was wi’ch you from the beginnin’ / But on the flipside, when you washed up like a riptide / Fools clown ’bout how you slipped and let shit slide.”