One of the latest entries to the rather good web comic Questionable Content has one character describe his fascination with extreme internet fetish photography a la goatse.cx as "extreme anthropology", which I think sums up my attitude towards BrokeNCYDE. I've listened to them a few times before as they provide a fascinating snapshot of modern popular culture, or to be more precise, a snapshot of how a meteorite smashing into the earth's surface and extinguishing all life on the planet may not be such a bad thing. As a result, they've been a subject of morbid fascination for me for a while now. They play a form of hip-hop known as crunk, which you may have heard of if anyone you know is clinically retarded. Their selling point is that their rapper also does high Oli Sykes screams, which put them within my jurisdiction, and apparently this screeching is enough to completely ensnare the scene kid demographic. Anyway, they've made quite the splash on the ol' MySpace, and as their debut full album is out soon, I figure I'll let my voice be heard about now.
BrokeNCYDE's new album, I'm Not a Fan.. But the Kids Like It! is the worst album I've ever listened to.
Just take a moment to really experience that last sentence. In the seventeen years I have been listening to music, I have never heard an album of inferior quality. Insane Clown Posse, Limp Bizkit, AxCx, none of these bands have created such aural hate crimes as these musical criminals.
The album starts with...well with something that is supposed to be an intro, I think, but is actually just what sounds like a synthesizer making random noises, and already I'm reminded of my Waking the Cadaver review, so that's not good. Like the WTC album, it then goes into the album proper, and, like the WTC album, I wish it hadn't.
I have a fundamental problem with crunk as a genre; as a fusion of rap and groove-oriented electronica, the backing tracks are universally horrible, oversimplified and insubstantial, and this album is no exception; the same synthesiser riff and bass-clap-bass-clap for a song if you're lucky, the album if you aren't. It's supposed to be danceable, and I have no doubt that it works, but these guys are just so musically insipid that surely no-one with self respect COULD dance to them. They even have the same pan-pipes sound Lady Gaga overuses. It just feels sterile and dull, which is a problem I have with a lot of electronic music, but BrokeNCYDE completely fail to interest me even more than most with their musical aspect. On the plus side, it is catchy, but honestly all that does is make me want to kill myself every time I find myself humming it. Why is it that most of my negative reviews have “On the plus side, it is catchy”? It’s perhaps revealing about the kind of band who needs to rely on catchiness.
Then there are the vocals. The rather unimpressive clean singing is manipulated by computer to weird the pitch up, which is an alright effect (albeit one which Daft Punk did a lot better over a decade ago), but unfortunately it was beyond the abilities of modern technology to make the rapping anything other than abysmal. The tone of voice is snide and self-satisfied; a Latino rich kid rapping about a girl making his "peepee hard" has no right to sound smug. The screaming is actually depressing, that the difference this instils in a band from the rest of their genre justifies them claiming it as a whole new one. It's whiny, largely inhaled and completely pointless - screaming works in metal and hardcore as a tone-free way to do lyrics without overshadowing the instrumentals, and as a way to register anger, frustration or aggression. BrokeNCYDE have no backing music worth devoting much attention to, and there is no trace of the aforementioned emotions, or indeed, any human emotion, within BrokeNCYDE's music.
Then there are the lyrics. As some of you may have noticed, I rarely talk about lyrics, and it's even rarer that it factors into my overall opinion of the band. But this is essentially a hip-hop band, so the lyrics are supposed to be a focal point; they're supposed to be interesting, intelligent and varied. The lyrics here all explore one theme; being in a nightclub – that means sex, drugs and really bad jewellery. And they are terrible lyrics; uninteresting, badly written and at times embarrassing to listen to. Also, here we have more repetition; they talk about nothing else, and the crunk staple of lines being repeated ad verbatim is present and correct. As a result, there is almost no variation in this album. Here is the makeup of a BrokeNCYDE song:
- Synth riff
- Bad screaming and rapping over same synth riff, possibly expanded, and two-piece drum beat.
- Computer manipulated singing over same synth riff, and two-piece drum beat.
- Repeat until end of song.
- Repeat until end of album
And at NO POINT is this deviated from, apart from a really bad skit involving a misdialled booty call.
And the lyrics are actually quite troubling too; in the world BrokeNCYDE populate, women are interchangeable cumbuckets who should be completely submissive to men, and exist only for sexual gratification. And date rape is fine, guys, just keep drugging her until she sucks you off (a strange preoccupation of this band). And guess what! Constant drug and alcohol abuse are great fun, and not something that'll fuck you up for life! All women should aspire to is being a booty call and all guys should aspire to is to nag their daddies into getting them grills and an SUV...actually, that sounds consistent with my generation.
But when it comes to the groups...bewildering appeal, I can't think of any way in which this music could be thought of as good - as rap it fails to inspire lyrically and as dance music it should by all rights embarrass those who hear it into stillness. But the most terrifying thing is that they're completely serious. They're not self-aware in their lack of quality, this is generally both the best music they could make, and representative of what they think awesome music is, both of which say a lot about them and their impressive 140,000 myspace friends - I suspect the government depopulation list contains many of these deviant minds in need of culling. And this completely serious band is liked on a completely serious level by a large number of people, people of my generation, people who will go on to become doctors, architects and politicians. And that fills me with terror, because if this is representative of club culture, and these fans of said culture are the next generation, then the only thing to do is nuke Ibiza from orbit and just take the depleted workforce, because at least then we won't be seeing judges with big neon t-shirts that say "SKEET SKEET" in balloon writing.
P.S. Here're some of the things that much wittier people than myself have said about the album, or the ensuing music video “Freaxxx” (the “Warren” mentioned a few times is Warren Ellis of Transmetropolitan fame, who posted the video on his blog along with...disparaging comments):
"This is simply abysmal. If this video had a face, I would punch it in the balls." - Justin McSheene
"If my kids ever listened to this music I would beat the living shit out of them. I seriously cannot believe this is a real song." - "street shark"
"What exactly were they thinking? Combining screamo bullshit with faggot rap is like setting up an international play starring Hitler and Oprah. It just doesn't and should never happen for so many reasons. This could possibly be the apocalypse." - Ben Stein
"what. the. fucking. fuck. warren.
Promise us now you will never hurt us like this again.
hate myself now for being the same species.
why." - Henchbot
"These people must not breed. Surely there must be something we can do?" - James Lillis
"The Spartans used to leave the malformed, brain damaged, or generally useless babies on a hilltop to be eaten by wolves. I now think this is a cracking good idea. Thanks, Warren." - Chris Noble
"Are… are we sure they’re not some elaborate spoof band? I mean… there’s a dancing pig. In the video. A real band would not do that. Right? It’s a very detailed parody. I need to believe this, or I have no reason to continue living." - "Christine"
"I am not a violent man. In fact, I was educated in Quaker schools for most of my childhood and spend my summers volunteering with an international peace program. That said, I can’t ever recall wanting to hit a musician in the face quite so much as I do now." - Toby S.
"I’ve never wanted anyone to have cancer before.
but there is a first time for everything" - Nezar
"...even if I caught Prince Harry and Gary Glitter adorned in Nazi regalia defecating through my grandmother’s letterbox I would still consider making them listen to this album too severe a punishment. And she’s just had new carpets put in. BrokeNCYDE – a crunk/gangsta/screamo/R&B hybrid – should be respected and feared in the same way that Captain Kirk respects and fears the Klingons, which is why I’m firing intergalactic blue nuclear death straight at their fat fucking faces. It’s like having an Auto-Tuned, crack-addled Cher with a hard-on bearing down on you singing, “Let’s get freaky”. - NME
“There is absolutely no substance whatsoever in their songs and no passion in anything they do. It is the musical equivalent of a snow cone” - SENSES FAIL’s Buddy Nielsen
"It really is one of those "fall of Western culture" moments. It’s a near-perfect snapshot of everything that’s shit about this point in the culture.
It is, however, going to be one of those great Litmus tests. If you meet someone who likes this? Even if they profess to like it in an "ironic," knowing, media-aware kind of way? Then they’re a turd with a haircut." - WARREN ELLIS.
“If you share any similarity with a band like brokeNCYDE you’re almost guaranteed to have me not like your band” - STEVE FUCKING ALBINI
PPS. Kathrine Katz is probably the hottest member of Agoraphobic Nosebleed. I also wish Scott Hull was my dad.