Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water
Interscope Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/05/2000
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner for both the Weirdest and the Dumbest album title of the year. And leave it to Fred Durst and Co. to come up with it. Who would have thought?
I have often remarked to friends that Limp Bizkit is to the 90s what Def Leppard was to the 80s. (Ducking flying barrage of garbage sent my way!) Let me explain: In the eighties, you had a new genre of music coming into the spotlight - namely heavy metal. Its tough crunch and fast solos made fans out of many young kids (mostly boys), who were into groups like Metallica and AC/DC. (By the way, yes, I do know that metal was created in the seventies by people like Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. That's partly the point I'm making here). It took groups like Def Leppard to harness that sound and remix it to make it palatable for the masses. They combined the metal sound with pop hooks and easy lyrics and rode this wave to a decade of hits and platinum.
Now, you have a new version of metal that combines the hard crunch and sound with lyrics delivered at hip-hop style and speed. Born out of Anthrax's and Public Enemy's "Fight The Power," early Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine's debut album, rap-rock came into the mainstream with groups like KoRn, Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit. What differentiates the Bizkit from the others though is their "don't-give-a-f$#@!" party attitude. They are not as centered in their angst like KoRn nor do they go around crusading for causes like Rage used to do. They're the ones that play at Playboy parties and frat houses. They are the more popular choice for the masses - hence the comparisons to that other rock band.
So, after forcing everyone to come "N2Gether Now" and do it all for the "Nookie," the boys of the Bizkit (DJ Lethal, drummer John Otto, guitarist Wes Borland, bassist Sam Rivers and one Fred Durst) are now back with their third major-label release. And like I stated above the title has got to be both the weirdest and the dumbest I've heard this year. I mean, I could understand Significant Other, since that album was about breaking up and other parts of the relationship stage. Fine. I still don't get this one.
Actually, a lot of the music in this album seems to fit very well with the description I just gave for their previous album. Songs like "It'll Be OK," "Boiler" and "The One" all deal with bad relationships or bad break-ups. They tend to be mostly mid-tempo affairs, except for "It'll Be OK," which was more up-tempo. That seems to contrast with the message of suicide that Durst is singing - perhaps an attempt at forcing the listener to come to terms with message and music. Whether any of these songs are leftovers or not is unknown, but it wouldn't surprise me.
Of course, this couldn't be a Limp Bizkit album without the mad rhymes and dope beats, right? Both current singles, "My Generation" and "Rollin' (Air Raid Vehicle)," are very hard-edged and very radio-oriented. In this vein we also find "Take A Look Around," which some of you might remember was their remix of the "Mission: Impossible Theme." I've stated this before, but I'll say it again: I love Limp's musical remix of the theme. It's great. What was unnecessary were Durst's lyrics. They may have been required for the band to have done it, but I find them extra. How's about an instrumental version only?
OK, you've read this far down and may be asking yourselves if there are any problems. Well, I found two major ones. One is the heavy use of profanity. Now, I'm no prude - definitely not. And I sort of get the point in "Hot Dog" of using the f-word a record number of times. But Durst takes it to the extreme and devalues the use of profanities. Nearly every song has a minimum of twenty "fucks," ten "shits" with a few "motherfuckers" thrown in for good measure. I tend to think that less is more and that the weight of these words gets lost when they're overused. How bad is it? My cousin - a dyed-in-the-wool Bizkit fan - hated this album for them.
The second major problem is the overuse of cliches - both rock cliches and rap cliches. They tend to bring down any major statement the band may be trying to make. "Full Nelson," a stab at their critics, gets mired in their cliched-statements. "My Way" is nothing more than a rehashed statement about their own props and "Livin' It Up" has a cool mid section, but fails thanks to its simple statements about being the S#*&!.
Aside from that, you have the obvious reality that comes out in "Getcha Groove On," "Hold On" and "Rollin' (Urban Assault Mix)" - and that is the fact that guest vocalists tend to one-up Durst's vocal skills. I mean, one one hand you have the tandem of DMX, Method Man and Redman all in the "Rollin'" remix and they all shine much brighter than Durst - who is left simply delivering the chorus. On the other, there's Scott Weiland, slowly wailing in "Hold On" and proving his own singing capabilities better than Durst's - even with Weiland's notorious drug use. It's not that Durst is bad, it's just that the others are even better.
Well, at this moment, Limp Bizkit is as big as it gets in the annals of rock. Whether or not they remain so will be revealed in the fullness of time. However, while Significant Other was a step forward, Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water is merely a step nowhere. The music is the same and the lyrics don't improve on anything that's done before. It may sell now, but whether the Bizkit lives on to see the 2010 Video Music Awards or becomes a Where Are They Now? remains to be seen.