In 2007, Kanye West and Rhymefest collaborated on a show titled Alligator Boots, which was supposed to be a “hip-hop Muppets show.” While the show did not make it past its pilot, it marked the first meeting between Kanye and Kim Kardashian — who play Princess Leia in a Star Wars-themed sketch. Now, an oral history of the show has surfaced via Wired. The oral history also reveals who were involved in the show, including Get Out director Jordan Peele. Read a few excerpts from the oral history below and check out the full article here.
I. “A Hip-Hop Muppet Show”
In 2007, Kanye West was in Los Angeles working on his third album, Graduation. The album would go on to sell almost 3 million copies and win a Grammy for Best Rap Album—but during the recording sessions at LA’s Record Plant studio, an idea emerged that would capture Kanye’s interest as a side project.
Konee Rok (video director, animator): At the time, I was traveling all over documenting the making of Rhymefest’s album. Kanye was working on Graduation, and we were all in the studio: Kanye; Common; Big Sean was there too, but no one really knew him yet. Rhymefest started doing a character named Pork Troy, and everyone was laughing—then Kanye was just like, “You know, we should do something with that.” Kanye knew Jimmy Kimmel—Kimmel is a part of Jackhole Productions, and they were behind Crank Yankers. Kanye suggested they make a puppet show.
Daniel Kellison (cocreator of Crank Yankers): A lot of hip-hop guys were into Crank Yankers, so I wasn’t entirely surprised, a year or so later, that I got a call that Kanye West wanted to meet. He said, “My buddy Rhymefest has this idea about this puppet Pork Troy and it’s a sci-fi thing.” It was a pretty convoluted idea. I said, “It seems like what we got here is sort of a hip-hop Muppet Show. Let’s develop this a bit more.” And to their credit, they were open to that.
Victor Yerrid (puppeteer): The puppet world is very small, so they contacted me about putting together the puppet team for that. And because it was a similar lip-sync show, I brought in a lot of the same guys we had used for Crank Yankers.
Alice Dinnean (puppeteer): There was a phase where all of us wound up on a lot of adult-themed puppet shows in the mid-2000s. That’s when you had Crank Yankers and Team America: World Police, and Jimmy Kimmel would have puppets on his show. It was a thing for a little while.
Kellison: For a long time, it was like Untitled Kanye West Puppet Show. We had a real hard time coming up with the name. Finally, Kanye goes, “I want to call the show Alligator Boots.” When he was a kid growing up, if your uncle had a pair of alligator boots, that was sort of like you made it. That was what it was meant to be.
Konee Rok: It ended up going to Comedy Central, and I think they got a $1 million budget and shot it. It was a five-day shoot on the Jim Henson lot.
Jon Kimmel (head writer): Rhymefest was probably my very favorite part of doing the show. I would love to have him in every room I ever wrote in, because he’s so funny and just a really smart guy.