Froback Friday is a weekly feature of a music video from the platinum age of hip hop. 1998-2003, when rap was truly crossing over into the mainstream and I was regularly attending middle school dances.
Nelly’s rap group the St. Lunatics formed in 1993, and had a groovin’ and Stacy Lattisaw-samplin’1 hit in their home of St. Louis, Missouri with “Gimmie What U Got” in 1997. But when they tried to get signed to a major label, executives only liked Nelly, so the group “did what we had to do for Country Grammar to sell,” as Murphy Lee explained. Despite this, the ‘Tics were all over Nelly’s album. City Spud, who was convicted of robbery and sentenced to 10 years during the recording of Country Grammar, was featured on “Ride Wit Me.” Ali and Murphy Lee, the only two members to also release solo albums, were featured on “Batter Up.”
In the video, Nelly and Ali welcome the viewer to a baseball game, wearing whiteface portraying announcers Mark Oh-Who-Gives-A-Fuck and Bob Buttafuoco, calling the game for fans with a catcher’s mitt in their weave. It’s between the St. Lunatics and the Washington Generals, or rather the “Jags.” In any case, they’re goofy mostly-white guys who are gonna lose. Sherman Hemsley, as George Jefferson, tells the crowd to rise for the National Anthem, and Nelly sings the chorus aka the theme from “The Jeffersons.”2
First up is Ali and he apparently scares the opposing team with his leashed pitbull into giving up a run. The score is kept by a large man working a grill and smearing BBQ sauce in the ball, strike and run columns. Next up to bat is Kyjuan, who bunts a home run. Batting three-hole is the great and talented Angell Conwell, current star of The Young and the Restless, in an early role and one of my personal favorites. She simply steps up to bat in heels and a bikini, and watches four pitches fly nowhere near the strike zone. Her on base percentage must have been insane. It’s too bad the Moneyball revolution hadn’t happened yet.
The clean up batter is Murphy Lee, and when he cracks a home run with one hand, the ‘Tics have 420 runs. Slo’down hits a homerun himself and lastly Nelly is up to bat. It’s unclear if Nelly actually hit a pitch, but he drives a Chevy Chevelle around the bases, scaring away the Jags’ infield and their fans. The ball gets thrown to home plate, the catcher tags the oncoming car and the umpire yells, “Safe!” The Lunatics win the trophy, Angell Conwell dances, and everyone’s happy.
2. There was a weird social divide in my high school between kids who knew “The Jeffersons” theme song