This weekend, for some reason that will forever be a mystery, the human race was given a video of a shirtless Shia LaBeouf freestyle rapping in... a swamp? There are many questions. Is the freestyle good? It could be worse! Were parts of it stolen from other rappers? Yes. Should that be a surprise? No.
The song in question is called “Perfectionist,” released in 1999.
LaBeouf takes lines from the song twice:
Shia, 2:23: “Rare commodity, the quality is what it’s gotta be / and my philosophy is much farther than what your eyes can see”
Anomolies, 0:48: “I reckon you want more / of that rare commodity / The quality is what it’s gotta be / and my philosophy is much farther than what your eyes can see”
Shia, 2:33: “But I got a gas mask / so you know I got the last laugh.”
Anomolies, 1:56: “Need to rock a gas mask / Now see who got the last laugh.”
It might seem unlikely that LaBeouf would have heard such an unknown rap song in the first place, but he has been a diehard fan of underground rap music since he was at least a teenager. In 2009, he directed a video for indie rap legend Cage.
In his defense, rap music has a long and storied history of MCs referencing older works, including quoting lines wholesale. But it would be hard to argue that Shia LaBeouf reciting two lines from an underground rap song released 10 years ago that has 6,000 views on YouTube during a random backwoods freestyle is the same thing as, say, Jay Z’s numerous Biggie homages.
Maybe it’s all “performance art”? Who knows with this guy! Isn’t he just totally crazy??????