As a writer for a nonprofit community news publication based in Minneapolis, on an average day I’m trying to figure out how to get the Twin Cities—let alone the world—to give us a few clicks for a story about something like a North Minneapolis youth enrichment program. This time, though, the Y.N.RichKids have turned the tables on me: I’m the one who’s late to the party. The kids’ video “Hot Cheetos and Takis,” now with over a million views on YouTube, is getting coverage from the likes of Billboard and Rolling Stone. An analysis of the song on Grantland has over 1,600 Facebook recommendations, D.C. bloggers are running out to do Takis taste tests, and local news anchors are awkwardly eating Hot Cheetos on air (banter: “It is very spicy.” “They are hot.”).
So there’s not much for me to say about this song, but there was no question that it had to be my Guilty Pleasure pick this week: it’s Minnesota’s biggest viral video hit since Jill and Kevin’s wedding dance and one of the most undeniably cool tracks to come out of the Minneapolis music scene since “When Doves Cry.” Bolstering their Gopher State cred, the kids even name-check mosquitoes.
For anyone who hasn’t heard the story yet: the name Y.N.RichKids is derived from “youth enrichment”; specifically, a YMCA program called Beats and Rhymes that puts preteens behind the board and on the mic. The program has yielded several albums, but the kids knew they had something special with this effervescent ode to their favorite treats (Takis are a Cheetos-like snack imported from Mexico), and the program enlisted a local videographer to make a video that leaves one wishing the Wilcannia Mob had been so enterprising.
Now the kids are getting stopped for autographs and Wally’s Foods, a corner store where the video was shot, has become iconic. What makes the whole thing even more inspiring is that the kids’ North Minneapolis neighborhood is still recovering from a deadly tornado that devastated homes and businesses in 2011. So for a column called “Guilty Pleasures,” where’s the guilt? That comes via the respected Minneapolis rapper Toki Wright, whose daughter appears in the video. “I told my daughter,” he assures health-conscious viewers, “they need to work in some vegetables too.”