It was a Tuesday night. I’d just been clued into the mildly engrossing Turbo Tax Rap contest that was stockpiling entries on the YouTube garbage heap. The prize, $25,000 and a chance to spearhead the Turbo Tax marketing campaign, meant endless moments for public embarrassment. Some were mildly clever, but most of the entries were too earnest, entirely devoid of wit, nakedly self-aggrandizing and made almost exclusively by white people too amateur to even be labeled with that charming moniker.
One entry, however, stood out. It was a performance by a guy with a muddy Bronx drawl who called himself ‘Southpaw Sonny Dimples.’ Although his age seemed questionable, the entry was impressive, at least in the fact that it actually had exterior locations and its creator had done more preparation than just reading the words off a computer screen shirtless while his ProTools cursor sped dutifully along.
But despite some labyrinthine rhyme schemes and an amazing screen presence, the entry garnered negative remarks, all with some lambasting remarks about Sonny’s presumed middle-age or definite lack of street cred/talent. A few people had taken this entry a little too seriously.
A great feeling always comes when you have a feeling people have gone out of their way to criticize something that is very likely a put-on.
If there was any doubt in my mind before, my suspicions against Southpaw Sonny’s authenticity were ultimately confirmed by the lines:
“Because I do it myself, who needs an accountant,
I sit at the table, beneath wrinkled paper mountains
Temples poundin, neck sweatin like a fountain,
Pencils breakin, legs sleepin
In the distance I can hear my message machine beepin
‘Hey its Sonny, can’t take the call
I’m in the shower weepin.”
It was doubtful to me that a Bronx-bred, double-shift friendly tobacconist would drop such a wicked pearl, no less end his audacious hip-hop masquerade with:
“I came here to tell my story standing, not do your commercial on my knees,
You want me to do your ad campaign that’s another 25 G’s.”
And if he did, then that’s even more noteworthy.
After a second viewing, my thought: someone needs to hire this man. As long as they don’t pass him over as just another sad internet amateur like some guy alexw7042 and a few others had so easily done, I couldn’t help but be quietly fascinated.
I added my two cents to the comments underneath Southpaw, sure that this was another low-key internet fabulist who’d stumbled onto an opportunity to gingerly rustle the feathers of a few bone-headed, cool-table wannabes and went on my way, journeying into the depths of cyberspace with Sonny’s toothpick chewing memory slowly fading.
About a week later I opened my iTunes Podcast Directory in the hopes of acquiring some new fascination with which to bleed away time. Featured amidst the usual smattering of talk radio, cyber commentary and random video feed was a quirky shot of some Gary Oldman-style vampire poised above a smirking vixen, his jowls open, ready to bite. Written across the cleanly produced photo was the title: Underbelly.
As I downloaded the first episode, a campy morsel of culinary information pared with bizarre characterization unfurled. A pimped-out, enormous man with a baby blue fedora and a near fu Manchu cruises 42nd street in a purple mini-mobile, a neon pink title scrolling across the screen as the podcast reveals itself.
Told in only three, ten-minute installments thus far, Underbelly appeared to be a New York pastiche of culinary vulgarities turned sacred by their fetishistic taste-curator, Baron Ambrosia. Although his antics at times conjured an unmistakably rehearsed slapstick soft shoe, the show was fascinating, and the persona of this guy Ambrosia, engaging and strange.
The hook: after watching the first two minutes of the fast-talking, royally robed prankster avidly emoting over the sweet delights of a Latin American platter of animal parts, I realized that, inadvertently, I had rediscovered Sonny Dimples.
The fact that this amateur, prankster tax-rapper was also this amateur but nonetheless iTunes Featured Podcast host, a campy, overtly sexualizing culinary connoisseur – this got the gears turning. The coincidence was starting to polish my curiosity. Soon I started thinking: what else you think this guy is doing? What’s his next move? Where else has he quietly rooted himself in cyberspace? Is he just an actor? A creator? Both?
If you have any further information, please comment. My Southpaw sentiment continues running laps around my skull: someone hire this strange man. Or at least figure out more about him.
But I guess that’s what The Plugg is here for.
Posted on March 19, 2007