If there’s one thing that’s certain in this world, it’s that people want to know which of any pair of fictional characters would win were the two of them to fight. This cannot be denied; it’s as sure as the turning of the Earth. While most of the time these debates have been limited to comic book super heroes or Liam Neeson characters, Alex Negrete and James Sharp have set their sights on various abstract concepts and internet celebrities. They could pummel each other, sure, but why would they do that when they can settle their fabricated differences through the medium of rap? It’s this formula that the pair have employed for their animated webseries, Animeme Rap Battles. We spoke to Negrete and Sharp about the inception of the concept, the rapping process, and what duos are going to duke it out next, hip hop style.
NERDIST: This is such a cool premise. How did you come up with the idea to have Internet memes battle each other via rap?
ALEX NEGRETE: I’ve been doing joke rap battles ever since I was in High School. I used to have this rap alter ego, “Dolla 24” – a play on 50 cent – and used to battle my friend as Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then I saw Epic Rap Battles of History and thought it was sick, and since I had previously created the channel Animeme, I was like there should be memes battling, and since many internet memes aren’t real you couldn’t do it with live action, it would have to be animation. And with animation you can do anything, I can think of the craziest thing in the world and it can be done. You want to see Nicolas Cage throwing the Titanic at Leonardo DiCaprio then he dodges it, Django jumps out of the ship, shoots Nicolas with a revolver, then Nicolas’ hair turns into a bird and blocks the bullet? We can make it happen.
N: How do you pair off the memes? Grumpy Cat and Nyan Cat are a good match, but how do you decide which two fit the best?
AN: They both have to share some similar desire or attribute for there to be a reason they are fighting, I also think of what would be the most fun to write and visually what would be the dopest, or what gets me excited and has my brain coming up with crazy ideas.
N: How long does it take to come up with such tight rhymes? Are they written or are they recorded freestyle? (If it’s the latter, I will be jaw-droppingly impressed,)
AN: I wish, ha ha… I’m about as good as your average white dude at freestyling, so pretty bad. It takes a couple days to write the song and come up with the rhymes. Luckily I’ve been writing and producing comedy music for the past four years for KeeptheHeat, my comedy rap duo with Dominic Harris, which has allowed me to get really good at creating complex rhyme schemes and figuring out how to get funny ideas across within them.
N: What do you use for the animations?
JAMES SHARP My team Toonocracy uses everything from Photoshop, Flash, Premiere and After Effects to create a single episode.
N: How long does one episode take to animate?
JS: Each episode takes five weeks to create from beginning to end. We stagger the pipeline so each week people have specific jobs to do, making it possible to complete six episodes within two months. Week one, we are writing, finding the talent/artists and getting the beat made. Week two, we are recording and putting together the final song. Week three we are storyboarding and cutting together animatics. Week four we are animating and week five we are doing the sound design and compositing the final video.
N: Are there any you thought about doing or maybe tried to do and found it wasn’t working?
AN: When we first started working on Forever Alone vs. Overly Attached Girlfriend, six of us were in the writing room for eight hours coming up with nothing. We couldn’t think of any good disses for Forever Alone because he’s pathetic, harmless and had no logical reason to be attacking her. Then I went home and started brainstorming the motives for the characters and realized that if this were actually happening, he would definitely be professing his love for her and taking the opportunity to pitch himself since this is probably the first girl he’s ever had any sort of interaction with. Her being overly attached is exactly what he wants, not something he would make fun of. After that it got a lot more fun to write, and helped us realize we have to dive into these characters to make the magic happen.
N: What memes are you gearing up for battle next?
Pokémon vs. My Little Pony
First World Problems vs. Third World Success
Batman vs. Spiderman
Cats vs. Babies
King Leonidas vs. Honey Badger
Nicolas Cage vs. Leonardo DiCaprio