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Black Grape: Dadi Waz A Badi and the Trumpian parallel

Updated: May 5, 2020

Martin Pengelly

When Hollywood makes its Donald Trump biopic, which with horrifying inevitability it will, the soundtrack will be by Black Grape. And the title song will be Dadi Waz A Badi.

I realise that intros designed to drain the reader of all hope are rarely a good idea. But, if you can, stick with me. And while you do, stick on Black Grape’s second album, the resoundingly awful Stupid Stupid Stupid, which was released in 1997 when I was 19 and, well, what the title says.

As you nod along to the opener, Get Higher, with its not-very-cleverly edit of Ronald Reagan talking about doing hard drugs with Nancy, entertain for a while a fondly held theory of mine: the Trump presidency is the 1980s, come through time to vengefully throttle the present. It is a belching pod of vile Thatcherite greed, come to grab and choke everything that is good and hopeful and not, most definitely not, ludicrously and nastily bouffant.

Yes, I know, Black Grape are a 90s band who tried a comeback last year. And yes, my Orwellian vision of Nineteen Eighty Five is actually mostly based on another piece of mundanely disappointing pop ephemera, that year’s Bond film, A View to a Kill, with its entirely Trumpian villain. The Bond who kills him is even a Trumpian Bond, Sir Roger Moore, who may in real life have been the anti-Trump in all his gleaming goodness but who as Bond was distinctly Trumpian, in his unusual girth, his strange hair and, in early old age, his wildly unlikely presence as supposed saviour of the western world.

Irrelevant, largely, yes. But I contend that Black Grape are a thin echo, a feint retch, of the late-80s glory that was Happy Mondays. So stick with me. Here are most of the lyrics of Dadi Waz A Badi, which opens with a dirty bouncing horn-driven swagger it never, ever lets go:


Ooooooohhhh lala

Get on it

Hey, yeah

Hey, yeah

Hey, yeah

Hey, yeah

Hey, yeah, yeah

Ha-ha, coming at ya’

So watch out

Sorry: false start. That's the bit in which the rapper Kermit shouts a lot to justify his presence alongside Shaun Ryder, a genuine gonzo hero if never a very coherent one. Here comes the point:

Now my daddy’s got grandkids

The nest it has been flown

Our women don’t want our kids to act like Al Capone

Now my dad was a badi

He wore a badi’s hat

And anyone who had more than us

Our dad just had to have

See? Trump’s got grandkids, he has to have it all, he has a pathological urge to destroy his enemies and, according to the New York Times and many others, his attitude to paying tax – and indeed signing concreting contracts with people actually called ‘Fat Tony’ – is not dissimilar to that of Mr Capone. And, as the world now knows to its cost, he wears a badi's hat.

On the record, as off it, the horror keeps rolling on…

You got it

I want it

You know I’m gonna get it

You got it

I want it

You know I’m gonna get it

You got it

I want it

You know I’m gonna get it

I want it

You got it

You know I’m gonna get it

Yes, Shaun and Kermit, I got it. Or get it. Or whatever. But so, when he wants it, whatever it is, somehow, against all that is right, does Donald. Onwards we go, brain dwindling into weakly protesting mush:

A three-year-old with a moby

Has got to be a joke

What is this if not a distillation of the utter nightmare of government by iPhone and tweet?

When I was young and restless

My dad was fuckin’ broke

What is this if not a summary of so many inspiring-if-you’re-the-kind-of-credulous-schmuck-who-voted-for-him tales told by Donald Jr, Eric and Ivanka about their dadi’s triumphs and disasters?

Now my dad’s on the game

He likes to eat and score

And when he’s had a lie down

He’s back to do some more

What is this but a portrait of Donald ‘Two Scoops’ Sr’s well-documented appetites for money, food and women? Sadly, inevitably, we’re getting to that. After a lot more ‘You got it, I want it’ there is a culmination:

My dadi was a good guy

He wore a good guy’s hat

And any chick with massive tits

My dad just had to shag

It’s not Shakespeare. It’s not Bob Dylan. It isn’t even Goldie Lookin Chain or, ahem, Kunt And The Gang. It is tawdry and witless and pointless and cheap and gaudy and horrible and wrong. But, y’know. It’s insanely catchy. And you may be on the brink of catching my drift.

I am an editor for the Guardian in New York and I was one of the fearless Woodwards and Bernsteins who broke news of Stormy Daniels’ book and what it said about the president’s mushroom-shaped, Mario-Kart dick.

I’m sorry. Well, not that sorry. The story was a monster, two million clicks in a day. It was news. I have to chase news about Donald Trump. It doesn’t feel great but Trump is president and if that can be so then this is a world that deserves him. We can only swim with the tide, turning against it whenever we can.

Black Grape do not so much swim against or with the tide as gleefully circle the plughole. Their songs are riotous, over-produced, synthetic, crazed, nastily repellent and horribly engaging. Their album covers are lurid pastel-dayglo, blood oranges, golden yellows and bubblegum pinks, gonzoid fever-dream nightmares. You know: Trump Tower.

Every song on Stupid Stupid Stupid could be about this appetite on legs, this stomach with a haircut, this digestive tract in a striped club tie rampaging across the landscape, grabbing and gobbling, debilitating, demeaning and destroying. A couple on the comeback album, Pop Voodoo, actually are. Another sings about Ryder’s, um, old chap growing teeth. Black Grape are functionally insane.

And so they are entirely of their time, which is ours. As I listen to Dadi Waz A Badi, on the way to or from a news shift, bleary-eyed, tweet-happy, wondering what can possibly come next… as the last dregs of common sense cough their last in a monsoon of cultural meltdown… the song is extremely, darkly, horribly funny.

There may not be much about Donald Trump that is funny but there is about the world that spawned this monster, and elected him, and tolerated him, and somehow still hasn’t removed him from power. There is something extremely, darkly, horribly funny about that. What, to ask the question as Shaun Ryder might, shouting over a wildly caroming funk beat, the fuck is going on?

When Donald Trump: the Movie comes to be made, it will be a comedy of the blackest pitch. It will be an appalling picaresque romp. And Black Grape will have us all singing along.


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