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Comic rappers battle for cred

"Saturday Night Live" actors' rap-parody video prompts West Coast duo to respond with Net call for a rap fight. Photos: A faux-rap battle rages

In the '90s, the rap world became embroiled in a bitter and sometimes violent rivalry between Sean "Puffy" Combs' New York-based Bad Boy Records and Suge Knight's Los Angeles label, Death Row Records.

Eventually, the enmity generated by the so-called East-West battle subsided. But now, an actor and a film editor from L.A. are trying to start a new bicoastal rap battle, albeit a resolutely nonviolent one that relies as much on comic timing as street cred.

Def snack jam

Late last year, two "Saturday Night Live" actors, Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell, created a skit called "Lazy Sunday" in which they rapped faux-angry about the dizzying array of snacks they would buy and eat before going to see "The Chronicles of Narnia." Before long, their video, also known as "The Chronic-what-cles of Narnia", had migrated to the Internet and millions of people had downloaded it.

But in Los Angeles, television and movie actor Mark Feuerstein--who has been in movies including "In Her Shoes"--and film editor Adam Stein thought "Lazy Sunday" smacked of heavy New York bias and decided the West Coast needed to respond. Thus, their challenge, titled "Lazy Monday," and their call out for a new East Coast-West Coast rivalry were born.

"Lazy Monday" is pure parody: The video mimes Samberg and Parnell's angry, hard-core white rapper style, but wraps it around a story of a day spent at a Color Me Mine make-it-yourself pottery outlet.

"Yo Samberg, yo Chris Parnell," Feuerstein and Stein rap, "You think you both so bad cause you on 'SNL'? Now that 'Narnia''s done we'd like to boast how we spend a lazy day out on the West Coast."

To Stein, the "Lazy Monday" response was necessary since "Lazy Sunday" was filled with wall-to-wall references to New York bakeries and neighborhoods.

"It just struck us that doing a West Coast rap in the same vein of rapping about things that were totally not hard-core might be a fun thing to do," Stein told CNET News.com.

West Coast gets dissed
Added Feuerstein, "It was clear that ("Lazy Monday") needed to be done. What (Samberg and Parnell) did was so brilliant. They were the first and the original. We thought we could ratchet up the irony by one notch, by starting a rap battle...and by rapping about things as hard-core as painting pottery and getting a macchiato."

A "Saturday Night Live" spokesperson declined comment for this story.

In any case, while the viral spread of "Lazy Sunday" was met with almost universal acclaim, some have seen fit to attack "Lazy Monday" for anything from not being funny to being a poor response to the original. Feuerstein thinks he understands people's reactions, even though he thinks they should understand that the whole thing was a joke.

"I think it's because we pit ourselves against the most beloved creation on the Internet," Feuerstein said, "that people are coming at us with rage."

To Stein, the negativity comes from a general lack of irony on the part of "Lazy Sunday" fans, despite the fact that "Lazy Monday" has been downloaded several hundred thousand times.

"There was something about the original, maybe because it was on 'SNL,'" Stein said. "They see ours, they see us painting, (they think) 'They're not hard-core, they're just painting."

On their site, Feuerstein and Stein specifically call on others to join the coastal "fight."

And before long, someone did, albeit someone from the American Midwest.

"I guess because I've seen East versus West stuff on 'SNL' before," said Alex Salem, the creator of "Lazy River," a Midwestern entry in the battle, "I thought, why doesn't the Midwest do something?"

Salem created the rap--about playing poker at home--with the help of some friends. And he recognizes the power of the Internet to propagate and spread memes like the faux rap battle.

"There's no way this would happen without the Internet," he said. "You put up a video and a day later 500 people have seen it. It's the only way three guys from Iowa can have a voice in a rap battle."

In the meantime, Feuerstein and Stein are content with making sure that the "Lazy Sunday" creators know that the West Coast is holding its own. But they joked that they're ready for the retaliation they know could be coming.

"We expect them to throw down and show us what the New York scene is made of," Stein said. "I'm just hoping we don't have to hire bodyguards with water guns."