Check It Out, Yo: 'Hot Cheetos & Takis,' This Summer's 'Truly Great Jam'

Aug 22, 2012
Originally published on August 23, 2012 9:14 am

Listen and see if you can get it out of your head. There are some here at Two-Way headquarters who certainly can't.

We're talking about Hot Cheetos & Takis"what may be the summer's final truly great jam," according to Rolling Stone.

All Things Considered today catches up on the story of the catchy rap produced by kids in Minneapolis. Putting the tune together (with professional help) was part of the ongoing Beats and Rhymes after-school and summer program at the city's North Community YMCA.

The program, the Y's Alicia Johnson tells NPR, gives kids a chance to "use music as a vehicle for self-expression and creative expression." On Hot Cheetos and eight albums that Beats and Rhymes has produced since 2006, the kids have rapped and rhymed about bullying, violence and drugs (all "anti" messages, of course).

"These young people are amazing," Johnson says. "Snacks just happened to catch the attention of the world. [But] they talk about very relevant issuse to the youth of today."

There's more background about the program in this story from The Star Tribune.

But enough about the meaning and significance of it all.

As of midday today, Hot Cheetos & Takis had been viewed nearly 1.3 million times on YouTube. The Village Voice had examined the "20 Best Things About 'Hot Cheetos And Takis.' " CBS News had given it a "major triple-rainbow salute of excellence."

Click and play if you wish. Us older folks can read along with the lyrics here. Enjoy.

And if you're not familiar with Takis, they're "mini rolled corn tortilla chips" that come in a variety of flavors.

Update at 5:35 p.m. ET. The Jam Of The Summer:

Our friend Jacob Ganz of NPR music points us to a piece by Rembert Browne of Grantland. Besides declaring this the "the jam we've been searching for all summer," Browne also did quite a bit of leg work to track down who these kids were.

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Now to an afterschool program that hits the beats instead of the books.



At the North Community YMCA in Minneapolis, kids can enroll in tumbling, the art of dance, and a program called Beats and Rhyme.


BLOCK: This song, "Hot Cheetos and Takis", is the latest production from the Y's Beats and Rhymes class. There's also a video.

CORNISH: In it, the kids who call themselves the YNRich Kids, dance on a playground as they celebrate their favorite snacks. Though the faces have changed over the years, as kids cycle in and out, the Y program has produced eight albums since it started in 2006.

BLOCK: A local production company shot and produced the Hot Cheetos and Takis video, while the kids - most younger than 12 - wrote the lyrics themselves. Alicia Johnson is director of the North Community YMCA.

ALICIA JOHNSON: To them, it's perfect. It's their vision. And like they can actually see it and they can hear it. It's their art, so they love it. And they're just like: Now everybody gets to see like what we do, which has been really phenomenal.


CORNISH: The video has more than a million views on YouTube and has been making the rounds on music blogs. Rolling Stone gave it four out of five stars. Rembert Browne covers music and pop culture for the website Grantland, and dubs "Hot Cheetos and Takis" the jam we've searching for all summer.

REMBERT BROWN: I think it's refreshing that they're just talking about, you know, snacks, 'cause I mean snacks were so important to me when I was that age. I just wanted money from my mom to have snacks. That was it.

BLOCK: So did director Alicia Johnson, says the kids aren't sweating their new fame, but it does give them some bragging rights when they head back to school.

JOHNSON: It's great to be able to say, hey, you know, when your teachers says what did you do this summer, all they can be like, well, we made this really amazing video that went viral. And how awesome is that?

CORNISH: One postscript to this story, for those of you who have spent the last two minutes wondering what are takis? They're rolled corn tortilla chips that come in several flavors, including Crunchy Fajita, Fuego and Nitro.


BLOCK: You are listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.