The year was 2007. A young upstart from Chicago was promising change we could believe in. Meanwhile, another son of the Windy City, Kanye West, had an idea for a quintessentially Yes We Can pursuit: a puppet-based sketch comedy show. Alligator Boots, which West cocreated along with collaborator and friend Rhymefest, came to life as a filthy, irreverent spoof of The Muppet Show, hosted by West and costarring a felt-covered pig named Pork Troy. While Comedy Central ultimately decided to pass on the series, the pilot has lived on as a what-coulda-been pop-culture footnote—and now, a decade later, many of those involved have agreed to tell their stories. Can we take you to the scene of Kimye’s meet-cute, Jordan Peele’s first job after MadTV, and the recording of “Flashing Lights”? Lace up your boots.
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…