You may have seen this video of a young boy rapping on a local Christian channel. It has, after all, been viewed more than 400,000 times since being uploaded to YouTube a week ago.
The young boy, Michael Clancy, who was 10 at the time the video was shot in 1992, is now a 29-year-old lawyer living in Phoenix, AZ. We got in touch with Clancy on Tuesday to see what it’s like being the center of a viral video storm and whether or not he’s laughing, too.
HV: As of right now, the video which was uploaded about a week ago now has more than 400,000 views on YouTube. What’s it like being thrust in the center of the Internet’s gravity? The video has really resonated in Internet culture!
MC: Frankly, I’m still in denial that it’s actually happening. In fact, it doesn’t feel like it’s really me in the video since it happened eons ago. I tell people that all the time. It’s as if I’m watching some ungrounded kid try with all his heart to do something he likes but has no clue what a fool he’s making of himself. That said, it’s funny as heck on so many levels. I’m enjoying the attention it’s brought to not only me but to DC Talk and memories of the way people used to dress and dance in 1992 — at least I think.
MC: I was notified by my friend Jordan via Facebook that he saw a video that he thought was me. This was when the video only had 74,000 views. After I had a minor freak out, I contacted the user who posted it, “conradcliff” and told him who I was. I didn’t know him. We exchanged emails and he told me his uncle, who is an executive with CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) had sent him the video thinking it was him as a boy. When he saw it, he “just knew it would go viral.” He was right.
HV: Has anyone from your work seen it? If so, what do they think. You’re a lawyer now in Phoenix, I would imagine other lawyers giving you a fun-but-hard time over it?
MC: I showed the video to my assistant, Susan, and a paralegal in the office, Bonny, and they loved it. My boss, Bruce, doesn’t know about it and I’m trying to keep it under wraps at the moment. I know several of my friends from law school, who are attorneys, have seen the video on Facebook and many of them have re-posted it. They’re joining in with the fun, and many can’t believe I did something so crazy back in the day.
HV: Can you talk a little bit about the genesis of your performance. It was a South Bend, IN Christian television show in 1992, right? How did you get on the show? How did you decide to perform DC Talk? What do you think of the performance in retrospect? Tell us as much about that day as possible.
MC: The show was called “Lift Jesus Higher” and it had run for several years prior to 1992, when my video was produced. It was international and I actually got a fan letter from Uganda — I’m sure it had top ratings there. The show was founded by Dr. Cheryl Edminson, the lady in the denim dress, who was known as “Auntie Cheryl” on the show. Dr. Edminson attended my childhood church and recruited some younger kids as cast members. She asked mothers around church whether their children had any “special” talents.
Mine piped up and said that I liked to sing/rap. I auditioned and believe it or not, right?, I was
picked to do a segment called “testimony time” which included a story about how God impacted my life and it followed with a talent portion.
I chose to rap my favorite song at the time, “Nu Thang” because I was obsessed with it and because I thought it had a good message. The segment was filmed in October 1992 in South Bend, IN at LeSEA studios. When I arrived, the producer told me that I couldn’t use the original music to the song as it would violate copyright laws if I did.
Further, I could not say the name “DC Talk” in the song as it appeared twice, so instead I said, “Michael Clancy.” The result of that predicament is the video we have today.
In retrospect, I think the performance shows a green-eared, gutsy attempt to passionately perform something I believed in. Does it look a little cheesy 19 years later? Sure. Are my clothes outdated even for 1992? Probably. Did I need an inhaler? A little oxygen would have helped!
HV: You’re still into DC Talk now, right? Does it bug you that perhaps some of the video’s popularity is because of its connection to Christianity, but with mocking undertones. Like, obviously people find it funny, perhaps in part because it’s a DC Talk song and not say, a Snoop Dogg song.
MC: I am still a big fan of DC Talk. The work Toby McKeehan and crew did was really ground-breaking at the time. I hope they reunite soon as they’ve been on hiatus for 10 years. I understand the mocking undertones to the song, but in scouring the comments, most of them have more to do with my clothes, dancing and breathing than about Christianity. Seriously, if you’re going to look at the song and focus on the God aspect, then your humor is misdirected. Plus, I don’t think the purpose of the video was to convert people in the first place. Think about it. It’s a Christian TV show being watched by other Christian children…some of whom grew up and are now laughing at themselves for wearing flowery pirate pants.
HV: Have you ever broken the rap out at various events or BBQs amongst family friends? Do they give you a hard time?
MC: No, but my mother has played it on VHS for family and friends over the years. Every time I hated it when she did, but now that it’s become famous I’ve given up resisting. Now, I’m thinking I may have to break it out for a karaoke or two. Perhaps a web redemption?
HV: If offered would you jump at the chance for a little web redemption on Tosh.0? At the same time, what’s there to redeem? You absolutely killed that performance.
MC: I was wondering the same thing, actually. The producers at Tosh.0 are super creative, though, so I’m sure they’d find something hilarious probably involving the pants, sneakers and hair — which
hasn’t changed much at all in 19 years.
HV: You seem to be taking this in great stride with humility and a sense of humor, how difficult has that been? It seems like you’re very comfortable in your skin, but I make that assumption because your Twitter photo is you with a mullet.
MC: I try to laugh and make others laugh, if possible. The mullet picture on Twitter was the result of “yearbookyourself.com” and it was the class of 1992, believe it or not. The picture is not real, but my video very much is. This experience has been a whirlwind that’s just beginning. If I couldn’t laugh at myself I would probably be going crazy right now.
HV: What do you have planned for an encore, now that you’ve got your first hit under your belt?
MC: There is actually ANOTHER video of me doing another DC Talk song, “Heavenbound” that was taped at the same time as “Nu Thang.” I’m curious if anyone can find that video and get it posted on YouTube. It’s as epic as “Nu Thang,” I promise!
HV: Do you have any other special talents you’d like the Internet to know about?
MC: I’m a good attorney! I’ve been featured the past two months on the Phoenix news-talk station KTAR (92.3) to give comments on family law-related issues. I practice primarily family law in the Phoenix area and I manage roughly 35 clients, which is a special talent all its own.
HV: Thanks for taking the time. Is there anything else you’d like to add about the video or the experience of it going viral that you’d like to include because it’s something people would never expect to happen to them?
MC: All the Twitter followers, Facebook friend requests and YouTube friend requests have really exploded. You really have to guard your personal information and make sure that people can’t get a hold of it. I’m a little extra cautious being an attorney and all, but besides being safe, just enjoy the ride. I’m right in the middle of it and I’m excited to see where it goes!