He’s changed through the years from that youngster who Captain Picard kicked off the bridge into a regular on Big Bang Theory. On his “Ready Room” streaming show, he greets fans as “nerds,” and we like it. He’s also an accomplished writer and voice-over artist. But did you know that Wil Wheaton made his Hip-Hop debut back in 1989?
To explain this nugget of Trek history, you need to go back to when Hip-Hop (or simply Rap as it was known then) was still a new genre. The biggest stars, LL Cool J, Run DMC, and others, were well known, but not quite household names yet for most. Because of this, stand-up comedian and actor Arsenio Hall must have seen an opportunity, which he could fill with his brand of comedy.
Hall had a late-night show during this era, which was quite popular and became a destination for stars across Hollywood. Hall had just appeared in Eddie Murphy’s hit film Coming To America in 1988. His show was becoming a ratings magnet as well. Hall will be back with Murphy when the sequel Coming2America airs on Amazon Prime on March 5.
Paramount Shared Their Stars With Arsenio Hall
Many of our favorite actors appeared on Hall’s show, including Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, and a young Wil Wheaton. He could land all of these stars from The Next Generation because both TNG and The Arsenio Hall show were under the Paramount Studios umbrella.
While on the Arsenio Hall show in 1989, Wheaton bragged about dating and the women he was involved with. Hall egged him on a bit, and Wheaton revealed that one of these women was in his dressing room and that they met at the beach. Please note: This is not his eventual wife, Anne Prince Wheaton, who he met through a friend at a New Year’s Eve party.
A Hip-Hop Parody Album
It seemed that all was going well for Arsenio Hall. So, perhaps to occupy a niche in the Hip-Hop scene, Hall created a parody album. Hall recorded the album under the moniker “Chunky A.” This character was supposed to be the overweight, younger brother of Arsenio, named “Chunkton Arthur Hall.”
Much like what we’ve come to expect from “Weird Al” Yankovic, Hall’s album “Large and in Charge” was full of parody, pastiche, and silliness. The first single was a play on the hit song “Word Up” by the funk group Cameo. Chunky A’s version of “Word Up” was called “[Make Me Say] Owwww!” And his version was funny.
The Los Angeles Times reviewed the album, calling parts of it “side-splitting” and “sassy.” They gave it 3 out of 5 stars, but Hall saved the album’s final track for a serious message.
MC Wheaton and His Rhyming Style
“Dope: The Big Lie” was Hall’s attempt to encourage young people to “just say no” to drugs. The song featured the voices of singer Paula Abdul, rapper Ice-T, and … actor Wil Wheaton, who Hall knew through Wheaton’s appearance on his show. And, they both worked for the same company.
In his portion of the song, Wheaton reiterated the Reagan-era anti-drug message, saying:
“Hi, this is Wil Wheaton from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Just say no and avoid the temptation.”
It’s true — and his part even rhymed! Forward to 3:15 in the video to hear Wheaton’s part.
Hall was so happy to get Wheaton on this album, that he acknowledged the young actor in the liner notes. Hall thanked “Wil ‘I’m A Soul Man’ Wheaton” for his help on the track.
This wouldn’t be the last involvement with Hip-Hop for Wheaton. He’d later collaborate with “nerd rapper” MC Frontalot, who would even dedicate a song to the actor called “Your Friend Wil.”
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