Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Just the hypothetical idea of girls - naked girls, potentially naked girls, clothed girls who know who you are, clothed girls who may even like you - makes guys silly and it always has. The thought of not just being in the same room with females, but the very unlikely, yet perceived likeliness of sparking some kind of freakiness or extracurricular activity with said girls drives boys and men bananas. They think differently. They talk differently. They behave differently and all of these oddities are supposed to be bait. All of it - the fake machismo, the showing off, the shyness, the bragging, the dopiness, the nerdiness - is meant to get them closer, in the door, where they can then be timid and sweet and scared shitless about what might happen next. This is the way it is at the onset of interaction, when all of this is new. These are the situations that young men have been befuddled by since they saw their first porno and began thinking that it might be kinda great to have something like that happen to them, someday. They go through all of those false starts and awkward exchanges, working it and working it, but recognizing that they aren't going to touch any of that stuff for a really long time. Doesn't stop them from trying and being preoccupied with this single idea until they're old men, though still led by these ingrown desires. It's all of these instincts and lusts that Michael Dunlap of Totally Michael - the Bloomington, Indiana, rapper - feasts on in his music that is multi-faceted in that is touches the oeuvres of Blink-182, The Aquabats, Dan Deacon, Reggie & The Full Effect and Atom and His Package in equal parts. A song like, "Casual Satisfaction," on his self-titled debut album is as straight-forward as teenage cravings for sex can ever be. Dunlap sings about his erection and a female fills out the rifling, electro, skate-punk beat duet by singing happily about her groin being wet. The two subjects show no embarrassment in talking about such things in such a forward manner, actually going so far as to pat themselves on the back later in the song for being so honest with each other. It's almost as if it's play sex, but it's still very real and very serious, as if there were no more important feelings or thoughts going around at the time. Dunlap does a great job of framing these unbearable strong urges just as they are: hard to ignore flashes of animalistic need, looking through sheer shirts and making out the contours of a cold nipple, or staring at the ass of a hot girl walking away from you, mesmerized by the bends and the natural curves. It's the way boys think and yet, none of it ever comes off as perversity, only because so much of it is beyond fantasy. One gets a feeling that when you're writing songs about Winona Rider in 2009, singing lines like, "I'm not a high-class retail outlet, but I'd love for you to steal my heart," there's a kind of admirable hopelessness to a lot of what's being thought and sung. These are the dreams of, not just one young man with an active imagination and sexual tension, but the dreams of millions of young men who will be waiting it out for that one perfect girl, whether they like it or not.