Whenever people creating a TV show about high schoolers want the show to be taken seriously, they use the phrase “coming of age story.” This vague cluster of words literally means “become an age”, and doesn’t specify that that age is adulthood. Therefore, it’s just ambiguous enough to apply to anyone’s situation when they’re between the ages of twelve and nineteen (when you hit twenty, your problems become regular, adult ones, and lose their specialness), and also just ambiguous enough to seem important. “Coming of age story” must have been how the creators of X-Men: Evolution pitched their show to their bosses, because “your favorite superhero team at fifteen” sounds heartbreaking.
I loved X-Men: Evolution growing up. It had well animated fight scenes, decent stories, and characters that, for lack of a better term, evolved. It also had attempts to woo the younger demographics that seem so lame in retrospective that you’d imagine they were written by your dad’s prom tuxedo. My favorite of these attempts was the “T.O.A.D. Rap”, a hip hop song devoted to Toad, perennial lackey to everyone who had a better power than him (everyone else), and comic relief character, mainly used whenever you needed someone to throw in the mutant dumpster.
Was I disappointed when I saw that this Toad didn’t match up to the flip-kicking badass of the first X-Men movie? Yes. But, in exchange for him being cool, did I get the biggest amount of street cred in the Marvel universe?
Just listen to this. The beat itself sounds like a bunch of superhero cartoon writers sighing after receiving the orders to write this stupid thing.
And now, the lyrics:
It’s all good, yo. See I know.
Some things you gotta undastand about Toad.
See? That’s sort of hip hop-esque. Tons of rappers start their songs by prefacing the listener that there are things you need to know about them. If they didn’t do that, you’d hear Busta Rhymes come on, and immediately change the station. Busta Rhymes. Bust a rhyme. What else is there to know? Apparently, tons.
“I hop to the spot, hops on the block.
I’mma keep it real; I hops non stop.
I hip to the hippity-hip-hop, I don’t stop.
Toad got the game on lock, ya undastand?”
I definitely undastand, rapper. The spot AND the block are being hopped to and on, and this process will go on infinitely. Also, don’t try unlocking the game. That would be a completely futile gesture.
“It’s all good, yo. See I know,
Some things you got to undastand about Toad.”
I don’t know why Toad feels the need to speak in the third-person when talking about how much we have to undastand him, but as he says, IT’S ALL GOOD. I’m wondering what else we could possibly have to undastand, though? That last verse was primarily the word “hop”, with the rest being filler. It seems that, if he really wanted us to undastand him, he’d have made a better effort to explain himself, and not just draw out how much this whole place is about to get hopped. I’m sure he’ll get around to it. It’s all good. I trust him.
“T! O! A! D! (repeated)”
It was either this, or some more shit about hopping.
“I got real superpowers and I’ll display them.
I leap without pause and all over, Ma-yan (mayhem?).”
I undastand that rapping is hard, but changing a word into a completely different word in order for it to fit in the rhyme scheme, and still be recognized as that first word, is the lyrical equivalent of putting in a cheat code. But that critique is only applicable if the lyrics that I’m reading are correct. After listening to it a few times, it sounds more like he’s saying “mayhem,” which isn’t breaking the back of the cadence, but still completely disregards the structure of the last two sentences before it.
“Far from handsome, so I don’t play cute.
Use my tongue to grab things, and spit gray goop.”
That “don’t play cute” line is the closest thing to wordplay that I can identify in the entire song. Other than that, it’s purely textbook material, selected from Chapter 16 “Some Things You Got To Undastand About Toad.”
“I’mma freshman, got beef with the X-Men.
If X marks the spot, than I’mma X ‘dem.”
Callin’ the X-Men out? Uh, oh! Shots fired, X-Men! You guys better drop a mixtape soon, and hit Toad with some retaliatory heat!
“I trip on Mystique for pretendin’ to be
one of the X-Men, while I’m the enemy.”
And then it breaks the general “things T.O.A.D. does” theme to talk about character relationships from an actual storyline in the show. This is the one of the few rap songs that I’ve ever heard where I can listen to the second verse, and offer the critique “Man, this is not good at all. But at least it isn’t the first verse.”
“It’s all good, yo. See I know,
Some things you got to undastand about Tooooooooooaaaaaad.”
William Anderson, the guy who constructed this magnificent tower of a song, went on to be the composer for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. I can’t say whether that is good or bad, but it is absolutely fitting.