People always joke about the member of the band who plays the tambourine, but think about it: Where would live music be without the back-up dancer, the ludicrously outfitted hand-clapper, the guy whose sole job is to amp up the crowd by shouting, “Hoookayyyy!” over and over? Not only can they be critical members of rock bands and rap crews, but it’s also a role that can lead to a solo career — both Jay-Z and Tupac started out as hype men. Below, we’ve collected the best representatives of the most underrated role in music.
Bob Nastanovich, Pavement
Bob Nastanovich isn’t a hype man alone — he sometimes sings lead vocals and plays various instruments — but his essential function in Pavement is to be their unofficial screamer, time-keeper, and enthusiastic repeater of lyrics. His spastic dancing and general racket-making are some of the most energetic and fun parts of a Pavement song. Just imagine “Conduit for Sale” without that yelping, and you’ll know what we mean.
Bez, Happy Mondays
Mark “Bez” Berry is the guy you can’t avert your eyes from in any clips of the Happy Mondays playing. His formula is a pretty simple one: herky dancing + maracas = party. But boy, does it work.
Flavor Flav, Public Enemy
Before Flav launched his ongoing career as VH1 talking head/in-demand bachelor, he single-handedly popularized the role of hype man in rap groups through his work with Public Enemy. Every song has a healthy number of “Yeah, boy!” and “Flavor Flav!” interjections, and Flav’s trademark clock-swinging jumping around added a touch of party-down levity to the political anthems of the group.
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