Charlie Sheen inspires Hays Fellow Eli Northrup's hip-hop alter ego

Charlie Sheen could probably tell law students a thing or two about the justice system. The actor has been arrested, initiated litigation, and asserted trademark claims. But an NYU Law student – Eli Northrup ’11 – has a few things to say about Sheen. He, along with fellow members of his band, Pants Velour, have recorded what he calls a “tribute song” to Sheen and the video version has been viewed more than 160,000 times on YouTube. It has also caught the attention of Above the Law and the Careerist blog.

The song was inspired by Sheen’s recent interview on ABC television. “I saw the interview online and I couldn't believe it,” Northrup says. “It was ridiculous/crazy but really funny at the same time. We'd done parody songs before, including a Spencer Pratt diss track when [the reality TV actor] said he was going to start rapping, and Sheen just seemed like an appropriate topic.” The song is not meant to disparage Sheen, Northrup notes. “We actually made the song as a tribute to his ridiculousness.” The chorus, which also serves as the song's opening, begins: “Uh huh you know Charlie Sheen/Everything he do it's Major League /Errol Flynn Frank Sinatra that's nothing.” It goes on to chronicle some of Sheen’s alleged exploits.

Northrup says his alter ego as a hip-hop band member was unknown to most of his classmates until the Sheen video began going viral. “The hits keep going up so we're just riding it as far as it will take us,” he says  "The goal is to get people interested in our band and our music going forward. I know the word is spreading because friends of my parents have seen the video.” In his day job as a law student, Northrup is a Hays Fellow, a position awarded to select third-year students who are committed to civil liberties. Last fall, Northrup worked for the South Brooklyn Legal Services Foreclosure Prevention Unit and he's currently working for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund’s Criminal Justice Project. “The Hays Fellowship has been awesome,” says Northrup, who plans on practicing criminal law. “The students and professors who make up our group are all extremely smart and impressive, and at the same time fun to be around. Plus the alumni network is very strong and diverse--there are people working in all different areas of the law doing important things.”

Northrup won't need Sheen's recommendation to land a position after he graduates: In the fall he will begin clerking for Federal District Court Judge Robert Patterson in New York. But has Sheen offered any feedback on the video? “Not yet!,” says Northrup. “We tweeted the song to him a bunch of times but he's a hard man to get in touch with. I think he would appreciate it if he heard it--it seems like he has a sense of humor.”

Posted March 21, 2011