Buckwheat Groats: A Viral Sensation With a Leg in the East Village

Screen shot 2012-07-23 at 10.23.24 AM Clip from “Million Dollar Menu”

The latest hip-hop act to bust out of the East Village didn’t come out of the Bowery Poetry Club, the Pyramid, or any of those other hallowed spots. Buckwheat Groats emerged from… McDonald’s?

The comedic rap duo’s “Million Dollar Menu” is a tribute to the decadent rap videos of the early 2000s: members Lil’ Dinky (a.k.a. “Def Janiels”) and Penis Bailey, who asked that their real names not be printed as a condition of an interview (they’re shy, see), traded the imagery of the mansions and yachts of yesteryear for something significantly more accessible to most viewers.

Shooting at McDonald’s locations all over the city, the two found some of the best footage emerging from the fast-food chain’s East Village locations. The outlandish, not-safe-for-work video kicks off with the duo striding into the McDonald’s on 14th Street.

“The East Village held it down for the Groats, and we appreciate that,” said Bailey.

Dinky cited an employee at the 14th Street Mickey D’s who kept watch while they filmed. “The manager wasn’t quite seeing our level,” he said. “Not many people do.”

And yet, the group has managed to achieve viral success. Since its upload last March, “Million Dollar Menu,” directed by Ethan Blum and the Groats themselves, has amassed almost 400,000 views on YouTube. Those numbers, coupled with the clip’s professional look and sharp lyrics, have seen the group featured on popular urban media site WorldStarHipHop where they racked up an additional 48,000 views as well as being featured on the Huffington Post. “It was a little weird they put us in the Food section,” said Dinky. “We probably should have been in the ‘Style’ section.”

The two told us they first met in the lower level of an East Village Duane Reade, but that might be part of their tomfoolery: in previous interviews they’ve made claims of originating in “Grunwald, Poland” as well as being “two idiot NYU grads.” This much is certain: their first big show was here in the neighborhood, opening for Cris Cab at Webster Hall a little over a year ago.

Recently, the Groats jumped from the computer screen to the TV screen as “Million Dollar Menu” was featured on Pix 11 in a segment whose viewership didn’t include the Groats themselves. “I woke up to a bunch of internet comments like ‘Just saw you on the morning news, y’all blew up!’ but they didn’t even contact us,” lamented Bailey. Dinky added, “It was part of a segment called ‘New Yorkers Behaving Badly,’ and they refused to even send us the footage or respond to our attempts to contact them.”

The two asked to shout all their favorite East Village sources for inspiration, and who were we to say no? “Peace to Surprise! Surprise! Peace to Hot and Crusty. Peace to Otto’s Shrunken Head Tiki Bar and Lounge. R.I.P. Wingz with a ‘Z.’ R.I.P. Pizzeria Uno.” As the Buckwheat Groats continue to rise, it’s safe to say they’re “lovin’ it.”