Friday, June 11, 2010

Songs that Changed the Landscape of Human Thought and Understanding: Tag Team's "Whoomp! (There It Is)"

Tag Team's 1993 classic "Whoomp! (There It Is)" is a fantastic song because it brings together so many aspects of the human condition. First off, humans like to get the party started. And, clearly, Tag Team knows a thing or two about partying ("There's a party over here, a party over there / Wave your hands in the air"). Second, we love catchphrases. Think of all the wonderful coinages that have been inspired by "Whoomp! (There It Is)" since it burst upon the scene during the height of the grunge revolution: "Wusssssssssup!" "Who Let the Dogs Out? Woof. Woof. Woof," "I'm Rick James, Bitch," and "I can see Russia from my house," just to name a few. Lastly, the song returns us to our most basic and fundamental understanding of philosophy: what it means to be "real" and what it means "to be."

On a practical level, Tag Team's magnum opus makes one of life's most annoying events--like losing something, for instance--a cause for celebration. How many times have you lost your keys, forgot where you parked your car at the mall, or misplaced your children? After the usual retracing of steps and "looking in the last place I left them," you find them in some completely obvious place, like in your pocket or dangling off a cliff. Prior to Tag Team, recovering such things would offer us very little consolation for having been an idiot for losing them in the first place. But once the song was part of our global collective consciousness, we could sing "Whoomp! There It Is" to celebrate the rediscovery: Whoomp shakalaka-shakalaka-shakalaka-shaka!

Philosophically speaking, the assertion "Whoomp! There It Is" returns us to the pre-Socratic thinker Parmenides of Elea and his proem The Way of Truth in which he argues, "It is necessary to speak and to think what is; for being is, but nothing is not." And if something "is," it is "real." Tag Team--more than any other rap group in history thus far--keeps it realer by offering us a celebration of the most basic truth about the reality of objects and thoughts, acknowledging the "is-ness" of something: Whoomp! There It Is. Furthermore, Ludwig Wittgenstein's concluding assertion in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) that "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent" is verified by Tag Team. There is no song called "Whoomp! There It Isn't."

Tag Team's two brilliant MCs, DC the Brain Supreme (an apt moniker) and Steve Roll'n--like deciding to not have an abortion--celebrate life in "Whoomp! (There It Is)." By singing about life-affirming topics such as "kickin' the flow," "gettin' busy," [making] this party hype," "gettin' bent," and "mad skill flow," they remind us that "we are," and that is reason enough to have a party. Has there ever been a more positive message than this in popular music?

Here's the video:


  1. Or as Descartes put it, Cogito ergo Whoomp! (sum).

  2. Existentialism at its whoompiness.