I consider myself a generally well-adjusted and happy person, but I have moments of doubt, too. There are periods in which feel insecure about my worth as a friend, a romantic partner, and a creative person. These sentiments aren’t constant, but I’d like to get them fewer and farther between. I’ve considered therapy and meditation, two techniques that have benefitted numerous friends, but neither seems to offer quite the boost I’m seeking. What I really need, it turns out, is a hype man.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of a hype man, look no further than pretty much every live hip-hop performance. The hype man is the guy behind (and then in front of) the marquee rapper, biding his time, looming like a hooded cobra. Then, when the precise moment arrives, the hype man strikes, bellowing the last few syllables of a rhyming couplet or barking words of encouragement. His work done, he fades back into the milieu of the stage, bouncing rhythmically on the balls of his feet, ready to pounce the next time the song demands a, “COME ON!” or a “PUT YOUR HANDS UP!”
The hype man’s job is to let the crowd know that the hip-hop performance they’re witnessing is, indeed, awesome. They also affirm the rapper’s every decision, validating wardrobe choices through physical signals, verbal cues, and nonverbal vocalizations. An improv teacher may call the third type of affirmation the principle of, “Yes, uhhh.” Certainly, this kind of confidence can come from within, but rappers don’t always have time for self-actualization. They have leather vests to try on and pit bulls to train. The hype man delivers a sense of accomplishment and success whether or not his hype-ee is accomplished or successful.
Busta Rhymes often performs with a hype man (Spliff Star of the Flipmode Squad). During Nelly’s heyday his crew the St. Lunatics was basically a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float of hype men. Flava Flav is often credited as the hype man in Public Enemy, though he added more value to the group than many people recognize. Nowadays he’s the hype man for bad decisions and analog timepieces.
I am in search of a part time hype man. The job will take five to seven hours a week, depending on whether I’ve been working regularly and how many Wikipedia k-holes I’ve allowed myself to get sucked into on a given day. Some days I just need more hype than others, you know?
Duties of my hype man include:
- Keeping my self-esteem high through consistent reassurances. The kids seem to be really into “swag” nowadays. I’m not 100% sure what that is. If swag is a noun, you are responsible for assuring me that I have swag. If swag is an adjective, you must tell me I am swag. And for the love of god, if people aren’t saying “swag” anymore, use the new term. I don’t want to be the guy who still thinks he’s “swag” while everyone else is “cowabunga” or whatever.
- Finishing my sentences. I admit, this may be difficult because very few of my utterances are rap songs with a set cadence and consistent lyrical content. I do have some fairly predictable catch phrases, though. A few safe bets for you to try shouting along with me are: “I don’t know…I’m sorry,” “I’ll have the cake, please,” and, “Does that make any sense, what I just said?” When in doubt, just assume I’m about to say one of those things, and go to town.
- Totally losing your mind at my every minor accomplishment. This is a big one. Careful, though. There’s a fine line between embellishing my accomplishment for the benefit of myself and any onlookers, and going crazy to the point it looks like you’re mocking me. I’m kind of a hype classicist, so I’ll be expecting a lot of, “Damn!” and, “Snap!” But you’ll have the creative freedom to make it your own. If you want to clap twice and scream, “Lollapalooza!” after I send my mom an e-mail telling her I’ll be late to Passover dinner, you just do you. If you think making motorboat sound effects after I decide what to tip the pizza guy is a suitable celebration, go nuts. I’m not trying to hypecromanage you.
- Inquiring, pervasively, as to the whereabouts of Brooklyn. Is Brooklyn in the house? Where Brooklyn at? Has anyone seen Brooklyn? IT’S PRACTICALLY A SUBCONTINENT. IT’S NOT GOING TO JUST PICK UP AND WANDER OFF ON ITS OWN! Ascertaining the whereabouts of Brooklyn is paramount to success as a hype man.
- Obviously, when I say, “hype man,” I don’t mean to exclude people of other hype genders. If you are a woman or a person who identifies as transgendered, you are encouraged to apply for this position as long as you also identify as “hype.” If it makes you more comfortable, I can use the accepted, gender neutral, “hypemyn.”
If you live in the greater New York City area and think you can fulfill these duties, please be in touch with a résumé and a cover letter explaining in five hundred words or less how you would get a party started, if that party were just me sitting on a couch drinking iced coffee. Salary is commensurate with experience.