Sharps & flats

Why Limp Bizkit's idiotic rap-metal represents a cresting wave of alt-rock conservatism.


Jon Dolan
August 5, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

A light, pop quiz. What is Fred Durst?

A) The brash, churlish rapper-singer for the chart-topping hip-hop-rock outfit Limp Bizkit.

B) An ambitious grassroots entrepreneur and proto-Master P of the burgeoning rap-metal revolution.

C) A recently knighted senior vice president of Interscope Records.

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D) A rapacious little hunk of jackal spawn with the cold-eyed ambition of a corporate raider and the soul of a gnat.

Trick question. In the last couple of weeks, Durst and his accomplices in the vile Limp Bizkit have both sullied a perfectly good rock 'n' roll word with their grimly misogynistic single "Nookie," and -- if the media-porn flowing out of Woodstock 99 like chapters from a post-Korn "Lord of Flies" is true -- goaded a mosh pit to acts of violence that included the gang rape of a crowd-surfing woman. All of the above. And worse.

Paradigmatically, their "Significant Other" is the vanguard of a wave of conservatism in alt-rock that's just beginning to crest. Durst may be an idiot but he's no dummy. With "Nookie" he and bandmates Wes Borland, Sam Rivers, John Otto and DJ Lethal have taken everything playful out of the Chili Peppers and everything turgid and challenging out of Tool. They've drained Korn's Reznorian density and flattened hip hop into a girder for rants against primary oppressors -- Durst's ex-girlfriend and the disgusting sexual response that keeps him crawlin' back to the bitch. In short, they've taken dumb shtick and made it dumber; they've taken mean music and made it meaner. "Every day is nothin' but stress to me / I'm constantly dwellin' on how you got the best of me / I wanna know something I can't believe the way you keep testin' me / Mentally molesting me ... I'm stuck with my dick in my hand / Because you don't feel nothin' at all," etc., etc.

Which pretty much sums up the attitude: Young white male subject to a hostile world reaches boiling point known to Uzi-toting postal workers and high school shootists. "It's just one of those days when you don't wanna wake up / Everything is fucked / Everybody sucks / You don't wanna know why but you wanna justify / Rippin' someone's head off." Self-pity cum attachment disorder cum warfare. And suddenly the Korn-Rammstein-Manson golden era of freak-friendly goth-rock theater looks like Camelot.


Jon Dolan

Jon Dolan lives in Minneapolis and writes for several publications, including Spin, City Pages and barnes&noble.com. His reviews of the top albums on the Billboard 200 appear in Salon every week.

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