It has been a sad time recently for Hulkamaniacs, wrestling fans, and children of ’80s and ’90s pop culture alike, as quotes from the transcript of iconic wrestler Hulk Hogan’s alleged sex tape emerged last week, including what appears to be a racist tirade of casually transparent vitriol (including the phrase “I mean, I am a racist” immediately followed by Hogan launching into epithets). Many are having a challenging time even processing the 2006 quotes, featuring the Hulkster speaking at length about how he disapproved of his daughter then dating Miami rapper and one-time Cash Money-affiliate Stack$.
In preparation of the quotes surfacing, WWE severed all ties with Hogan the night before, including terminating his contract, pulling his cartoon from the subscription-based WWE Network, and removing all references to Hulk, including merchandise, from the company’s website. Some of the black wrestlers Hogan’s worked with in the past, like former Ugandan Giant Kamala and Million Dollar lackey Virgil, have come to his defense. The WWE’s current talent, some of whom Hogan’s worked with, have had a different tone in their responses including former world champions Mark Henry and Booker T. The most poignant statement has been from current WWE superstar Big E, who tweeted Friday:
Appropriate a culture, pilfer from its dialect, profit wildly from it, and regard its people as subhuman. Makes sense...— Epsilon (@WWEBigE) July 24, 2015
As surprising as the quotes attributed to Hogan are, there’s a certain irony in these quotes emerging on the 20th anniversary of his album Hulk Rules, a 10-track children’s album that features quite a bit of Hogan rapping.
The year was 1995, and Hogan had left his longtime home, the WWF, for the Ted Turner-funded rival wrestling organization, WCW. This exposure under the media mogul coincided with Hogan returning to extracurricular multimedia projects, including being approached to record an album. As told to Noisey earlier this year, Hogan and his longtime manager, Jimmy Hart, who had a legitimate ’60s hit under his belt with his band the Gentrys’ song “Keep on Dancing,” wrote and recorded 10 songs, eventually landing them a deal on Select Records. While they never performed the tracks live, Hulk Hogan and the Wrestling Boot Traveling Band’s Hulk Rules hit the No. 12 spot on the Billboard children’s charts and succeeded in having a worldwide release.
The album’s become a an object of ridicule and rite of passage for it’s-so-bad-it’s-good music collectors, most famously the ballad for a European Make-A-Wish child who died, “Hulkster in Heaven.” While Hogan’s bass playing on the album is better than you would expect (in the early ’80s Hogan actually released an EP of prog-rock in Japan that also showed off his chops), his singing and rapping happen to be exactly what you would expect. While Hart’s production keeps things having something of a light Jimmy Buffet-esqe tone, Hogan’s kid-friendly raps are all delivered with the same intensity and conviction we’re all familiar with hearing every time he happens to have a live microphone in front of him.
“I Wanna Be a Hulkamaniac” is Hogan’s equivalent of the “Ten Crack Commandments,” laying down everything one needs to do to “be a Hulkamaniac” like “have fun with my family and friends.” Things begin predictably with Hogan advocating for training, saying your prayers, and taking your vitamins, as he’s done his whole career. Once that’s out of the way, we get “positive thoughts and positive deeds/These are the things that make you succeed,” and further rhymes about the importance of family, swimming with a buddy, always studying, and how “you don’t need drugs to move your feet.”
But in the wake of the quotes that emerged Friday, July 24, some of these lyrics are pretty strange to listen to today. Namely, “When you’re looking for something cool to do/Just pick good friends to be with you/You better watch out where you are at/You may be judged where you hang your hat.”
Then there’s “Hulkster’s Back,” which features Hogan’s then-wife Linda on the chorus and Hogan rapping about how he was “born,” “bred,” and “Southern fed” before he had the idea to move to Venice Beach, begin working out, and start wrestling. Hogan shifts between first- and third-person quite a bit during this autobiographical narrative in between sound clips of women oggling him and ad-libs like, “Yo, Ted Turner, you wanna arm wrestle?” and an unbelievably exaggerated “What’s up, daaaaaaaaaawg?”
But the most absurd moment of Hogan’s rapping has to be “Beach Patrol,” a story of how, while cruising the beach, Hogan runs into trouble either with kissing a lifeguard’s girlfriend, or a lifeguard trying to kiss his girlfriend; it’s really not clear. Hogan’s closing bars teach a valuable lesson: “When you’re hanging at the beach you can see so much/Look all you want, but you better not touch/Take it from me, don’t lose control/Or you’re gonna have to answer to the Beach Patrol,” effectively threatening any children listening to the album not to touch Linda Hogan. I know this is a children’s album and probably a lot of young wrestling fans’ first exposure to any sort of hip-hop, so part of the appeal is listening to something as close to their older siblings’ music as possible. This may explain why “Whoop, there it is!” is repeated in the ad-libs ad nauseam. In that same vein, we get Hogan bellowing an extended “Hey guuuuuurlfrieeeeeend!” which might be the album’s highlight.
Hogan’s music career after Hulk Rules only saw him quasi-rapping on a Simon Cowell-produced Green Jelly-assisted cover of Gary Glitter’s “Leader of the Gang (I Am).” After that, not including a little rhyming with Paul Wall on an episode of his Hogan Knows Best reality show, the Hulkster stayed away from the mic until 2009 when he was chosen to be one of the celebrities to endorse the hip-hop Guitar Hero equivalent, Def Jam Rapstar. While his daughter, Brooke, then a few years into her singing career, had made mention of her father’s hip-hop fandom a handful of times, this was a chance for Hogan, joined by Brooke and the aforementioned Hart, to show off his skills over Biggie’s immortal single “Juicy.”
Hogan seems pretty into his rendition of “Juicy,” adding his own twist on the opening ad-libs and then delivering the lyrics with the same conviction of one of his famous pre-match promos. Brooke does her thing too, nailing the chorus. Hogan also unexpectedly exposes himself on camera, which is not a requirement of the game, but did happen. Sparing us all the epithet he was recorded saying three years prior to this spot, he closes the clip with the reworking of Biggie’s lyrics, “If you don’t know, now you know, brother.”
Chaz Kangas is a writer living in New York. Follow him @Chazraps.