Playbill

The Odd Afterlife Of House Of Pain's "Jump Around"

A couple of weeks ago, Rocks Off told our younger brother, eight years our junior, that we were interviewing legendary '90s hip-hop group House of Pain. He gave us a confused look.

So we started singing: "Jump around. Jump around. Jump up and up and get down."

"Oh yeah, the song from Mrs. Doubtfire," he responded.

Granted, he was four years old when House of Pain emerged as one of the first successful all-white hip-hop groups in America during one of the most racially-charged eras in the last few decades, but his response made us sick to our stomach.

"Have you not seen the video?" we asked aggressively. "Because House of Pain is so much more than fucking Mrs. Doubtfire."

In 1992, House of Pain's "Jump Around" and the video that followed - filled with stereotypical Irish hallmarks like Catholic churches, overflowing lager, "Kiss Me I'm Irish" buttons, St. Patrick's Day Parade marching and bloody noses caused by rowdy drunk Irish-American kids - served a higher purpose.

Like Houston's South Park Mexican gave Mexican-American kids struggling with their identity the leeway to vent (if not to take after him in certain other ways), like Kid Rock made it OK to live in a single-wide trailer, like Eminem gave permission to private school boys and California Valley girls to rap at stoplights without embarrassment, House of Pain gave life to the clover outside of St. Patrick's Day and faces to the tough, knuckle-busting, short-tempered Irish-American bar regulars who wouldn't bow down to anyone.

What the video portrayed was something in your face, unforgiving and didn't seek permission - pretty remarkable, given the times.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Contributor Rolando Rodriguez is the co-founder of Trill Multicultural.