Well, the Beastie Boys started out pretty stupid, too. Remember You've Got to Fight for Your Right (to Party)? Jacksonville's Limp Bizkit is the latest in a string of acts which attract huge commercial success by marrying the angst of heavy metal with the gangsta braggadocio of rap. But this isn't the innovative Beasties and it isn't Rage Against the Machine, a band that since the early 1990s has artfully combined the two genres to espouse radical anti-establishment politics, with much critical praise.
No, this is Limp Bizkit. Think Korn, think Kid Rock. They and Limp Bizkit form a sort of trinity, a new generation of white boys with dreads, spouting aggressive sentiments and sob stories set to hip-hop beats. Add crunchy guitar and, voila: rap-rock.
Which pretty much describes Significant Other, Limp Bizkit's sophomore release. And, yes, it would be difficult to get more sophomoric than this. For all his funkiness, lead singer Fred Durst possesses precious little rhyming skill. Consider: "You said you'd pay me back . . . You deserve a smack . . . People say I'm a slacker . . .") from I'm Broke. Thankfully, Durst mostly raps _ well, chants, really _ and doesn't subject us to his woefully off-key singing. (Remember last year's hit cover of George Michael's Faith?)
Nookie, the band's current hit, boasts more of the same free-association, slap-'em-together wordplay: "I did it all for the nookie, so take that cookie and shove it up your _ " Later, on the sickeningly catchy Break Stuff, the singer has had enough of this "he said/she said bull__."
Okay, so Durst isn't exactly Dostoevsky. But he's got chutzpah, darn it, and an esophagus-shredding yelp that suburban white guys with 'tudes and tattoos eat up.
And eat up, they do. Consider that Limp Bizkit, Korn and Kid Rock have sold a combined $55-million worth of CDs in the United States in the past six months. All three bands are staples on MTV. The reason is simple. It's the message. Or lack thereof.
These acts make testosterone-fueled, Bud-guzzling tunes that appeal to frat boys and social outcasts. The music is fun, mostly, but mopey at times, the weight of the world resting most solidly on poor Korn's shoulders.
Limp Bizkit mellows out, too, on Re-Arranged, a spooky, slow tune with delicate hip-hop scratching and brokenhearted lyrics fresh out of your eighth grade journal. Thankfully, guitarist Wes Borland keeps things interesting. (Borland's the guy with the big ol' black contact lenses; he credits avant-garde jazz composer John Zorn in the liner notes.)
At least Limp Bizkit, stupid as it is, has guts. Significant Other is bratty and funky, a regular party. And while others before Limp Bizkit fought for the right, at least credit the band with trying to make fresh music, to color outside the lines in an exciting new genre that's giving a much-needed jump start to rock 'n' roll. Grade B-
You Can't Stop the Bum Rush
Len takes all the elements of old school rap _ goofy lyrics, a sense of humor, boasting, bragging, joie de vivre _ and goes haywire on its debut. Peppered with ridiculous "What's my name?" shout-outs and robotic Freakazoid-era vocals, You Can't Stop the Bum Rush is somewhere between a celebration and a sendup of vintage hip-hop.
The Toronto-based Len slap-happily surfs in and out of genres, including a parody of German electronic music that sounds as good as Kraftwerk, or at least those cool VW commercials. Check out the hit Steal My Sunshine with all its groovy 1960s organ and sugar-sweet chorus courtesy of singer Sharon Costanzo, and ask yourself, could the Archies have done it any better? Costanzo and her brother Marc, a.k.a. Burger Pimp, keep things fresh by trading off vocals.
Man of the Year is a delicious early '80s roller skatin' jam complete with space-age sound effects. But, listen closely, the sounds aren't from synths, but the mouths of human beat boxes Kurtis Blow and Biz Markie. Len has more friends, too. Poison's C.C. Deville dishes guitar licks on Feelin' Alright, but don't let that scare you; the song is F-U-N, fun. Grade B.
Big Hair: The Big 80s
Just when you thought it was safe to throw away your Aqua Net. Just when you thought grunge had killed off all that horrible pose-a-thon Big Hair heavy metal from the 1980s. Guess what?
It's back. With a vengeance. Look around. Poison is touring. Dokken has a greatest hits disc. Sure, the Crue cut their big hair. That's probably why they aren't on this disc. They went soft.
But not you. You're one of the devoted, a metal head who never minded that Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora was a grown man with bangs. You thought the bald-on-top/ long-and-scraggly- in-the-back hairdo pioneered by Quiet Riot's Kevin Dubrow was pretty cool. Or, at least, not repulsive.
You knew the stringent 1980s hair rules:
Guy with big hair and makeup who listens to metal = cool.
Guy with big hair and makeup who listens to Culture Club = uncool.
You dug power chords and cheesy choruses and MTV videos with chicks in bikinis with big breast implants and blond hair teased up to the sky. Girls who would saucily mouth lyrics into the camera or roll around on the hoods of expensive European sports cars.
Big Hair: The Big 80s is your disc. Rejoice as you give another spin to hits with juvenile titles such as Cum on Feel the Noize, Talk Dirty to Me and Rock You Like a Hurricane. Then giggle as you listen to Warrant's Cherry Pie (nudge, nudge), not because of the teenage burlesque quality of the tune but because lead singer Jani Lane's crispy mane was as ridiculous as that big mess of blond curls on Twisted Sister's Dee Snider. And Twisted Sister's on here, too.
Go ahead, say it's for kitsch value as the cashier rings up your copy of Big Hair. Say it's nostalgia, whatever. Laugh it off. But some of us remember, all too clearly, the horror of the Big Hair '80s and We're Not Gonna Take It. Grade D.
_ GINA VIVINETTO, Times Staff Writer