In February 2006, Remy Munasifi got a video camera. His first video, shot for a song he wrote called "Macaca Blues," was on the Virginia state senate race. After it was featured in the Washington Times and the National Journal, Munasifi says he was hooked on the format. To date, he’s made 44 videos and has more than 76,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel. His videos have received more than 30 million views. "I'm not convinced all of those weren't my mom," he says.
Munasifi made a name for himself locally this month with the debut of his latest satire, “Arlington: The Rap.” The nearly four-minute video—set to a seriously addicting beat—takes jabs at Munasifi’s own neighborhood, hitting everything from condo fees to parking tickets to Starbucks. The video has landed him on three local news broadcasts, a spot in the Washington Post, and links on lots of local blogs. The video has more than 546,000 views—Munasifi’s 12th most popular video ever. (To see all of his videos, check out Goremy.com.)
Surprisingly, you won’t find a ton of rap music on Munasifi’s iPod; he prefers country. But, he says, “rap beats work well with jokes. You can get to a lot of punch lines at a pretty good pace.” Plus, Munasifi says he enjoys the challenge of coming up with rhymes.
We caught up with the 29-year-old full-time comedian/rapper to quiz him on his latest masterpiece. Check out “Arlington: The Rap” after the jump, then read our interview with the star.
Number of months you’ve lived in Arlington:
“About one. I’ve had the apartment since April, but since I didn’t have a bed, I didn’t actually sleep here. Now I have a bed but no soap dish. Also, I got some prints framed but don’t know how to hang them on the wall, so they’re just sitting on the floor. I think nails are involved, but it’s unclear. Perhaps I’ll Google it.”
Number of hours it took to write “Arlington: The Rap”:
“Once I sat down and wrote the lyrics out, it didn’t take too long. Maybe a couple hours in total. I had written a lot more verses, though, so cutting them down and reorganizing them took a little while. I had to remove a dramatic trip to The Cheesecake Factory from the script. It was disappointing, but the video was running really long.
"I can't remember exactly how that verse went, but it was something along the lines of:
Hit up Cheesecake Factory
just a legit hole-in-the-wall venue
hoping they have raspberry ribbon
on the cheesecake menu
If they don't I'll pop a cap
in someone's face, oh man they better!
and by 'pop a cap' I mean
'write a strongly-worded letter' ”
One reason you love living there:
“The people. Everybody seems friendly and outgoing, which I like. There’s a community feel to the area.”
One reason you hate it:
“I’m convinced that any patch of grass in this town contains at least one hidden piece of dog crap. It’s something that affects us all. I think I might devote my life to this issue—to rid the town of doggy land mines. I could be the Princess Diana of Arlington.”
Favorite and least favorite Arlington neighborhoods:
“My favorite has to be my home, Clarendon. You can’t go wrong with the ‘Dizzle. I don’t really have a least favorite. Maybe Virginia Square, because I’m not even sure it exists. I know the Metro stops there, but I have no idea where that place is. I’ve walked from Ballston to Clarendon. I saw Ballston, I saw Clarendon, but no Virginia Square. I suspect it’s some sort of cavernous underground sewer community.”
Places to avoid on a Friday night:
“Clubs on K Street. For me, those are easy to avoid, since I’ve never actually been allowed into one. My sister had her birthday party at Lima once, so I tried to get in, but my footwear was deemed unacceptable. I’m still not sure what is needed to be allowed entry to those places. I think cologne is involved.”
Places to embrace:
“Any place with elbow room and a friendly staff. For example, I was at a sandwich place in Arlington last week, and I saw the cashier had a name tag that ended in ‘-ustin.’ I just assumed his name was Justin and thanked him for ringing me up. He got mad and snapped back, ‘It’s Dustin!’ I was kind of shocked. And it’s not even my fault, really. Dustin isn’t a real name; it’s a verb.”
Your favorite of the Arlington Starbucks:
“Whichever one that guy with the new Volkswagen Beetle convertible isn’t going to. I must have cut him off while pulling in or something because he yelled, ‘Hey! Does your turn signal work!?’ I was like, ‘Hey! Does your sister know you borrowed her car?’ ”
Worst store in the Ballston Common Mall:
“I think all stores should be Cinnabons.”
Pick a Kashi cereal: Go Lean or Good Friends?
“I shouldn’t admit this, but I’ve never actually had Kashi cereal. I’m a Fruity Pebbles kind of guy. Or Cookie Crisp. Frosted Flakes. Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Raisin Bran Crunch. Those are some quality cereals. I’d probably try Kashi if they ever put a toy in it.”
Number of pairs of brown flip-flops you own:
“I don’t wear or own flip-flops. Flip-flops are shoes that the factory worker stopped making a third of the way through. I won’t support that behavior. Finish what you start, cobbler.”
Number of parking tickets you’ve gotten in Arlington:
“One, and I deserved it. I crashed at my friend’s place in Ballston one night and left my car in metered parking on Utah Street. I got to the car the next morning a few minutes late, hoping the county people hadn’t seen it yet. They had. Not only that, they also claimed my car under eminent domain and built condos on it. Okay, that part isn’t true, but the first part is.”
Where you learned your sweet fighting moves:
“The fetal position? I perfected that move on the tough playgrounds of Churchill Road Elementary out of necessity. My self-defense skills involved that and running away. I don’t know karate, but I know pilates. My mom, who has a pilates studio in McLean, is teaching me. Her core is so strong, she tells people to punch her in the stomach. But that’s not because of Pilates—it’s a habit she picked up while pregnant with me.”
“Gangsta ’hood” you’d live in if not Arlington:
“I used to live in Wheeling, West Virginia, and still love it out there. I could probably live there again in some capacity. But I’m loving Arlington and can’t really see myself leaving.”
Next neighborhood you plan to rap about:
“I’m not sure what concept I’ll go with next, but it’ll probably be something completely different. So far this year I’ve covered video games, towels, salad, and Arlington. Who knows what’s next? I just hope folks will enjoy it.”
Next week, we step into the kitchen with Pete Ryan from Pete Bakes. We find out his favorite kitchen tools, what pantry item he can’t live without, and, of course, his favorite recipes. Check back next week for the interview!
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