Every now and then, I make something like a critical dare against myself: Can you listen to ICP for 36 hours straight, breaking only to sleep? Can you make it through Eminem’s discography while playing Oblivion? How much Jingle Cats can you play before the family cat finally snaps? All of these questions had answers, and the answer was always yes. Last night I made myself another dare: I dared myself to review a BrokeNCYDE – or BC13 – album. I don’t know what the acronym stands for and neither do you, but I know this record is as much of a drain on my psyche as any sequence of sounds I have ever heard.
Listening to BrokeNCYDE will give your pets illnesses.
I’m dedicated to providing reviews that are fair, subjective assessments: I’m never going to be completely objective (no critic can be), and my personal taste is always going to intrude to some extent. However, I will always be fair – I’m under the impression that you value this. Rarely can I bring myself to call an album an objective failure. I usually pepper these sentiments with phrases like “to its core audience..” or “taken as a satire…”, tempering out my distaste in the name of fair coverage. These devices fail me with Guilty Pleasure. I think I may finally have found a truly bad album, and not just a bad album but an actively destructive one: an aggressively insipid piece of work that is everything from poorly performed to uncomfortably predatory. But I digress.
Listening to BrokeNCYDE will crash the economy.
BrokeNCYDE, whose name I am getting tired of typing, is a group of young men from Albuquerque, New Mexico, whose fascinations range from alcohol to teen girls to fashion, all of which is clearly evident from their album case. They would very much like to be a Crunkcore band, and perhaps at one point were one: Crunkcore is an offshoot of southern Crunk hip-hop music, steeped in the guitar-stomp and screamed vocals of the Hardcore and Screamo genres. Let’s stop for a moment and consider what that might sound like. Are you picturing Lil’ Jon in skinny jeans, screaming out his heartache from atop his drive-in garage? You’re damn close. On paper, that idea is hilarious. I am laughing right now. Hilarious ideas are not bad ideas! They simply demand a different approach, a more subtle, nuanced, self-aware touch in order to succeed. Is that the sort of touch our friends in BrokeNCYDE possess? Oh hell no.
Listening to BrokeNCYDE will ruin your family.
Let’s review some lyrics, shall we? Here we go: “She’s a beast that bootie is bigger than a moose,” “I’m on top of her, she’s on top of me,” “Why are people hating on me – is it ‘cause I’m so good looking?”, “The party won’t stop til 5am tonight” (he means tomorrow morning). Noticing a trend? No? Let’s try one more: “Stupid fucking bitches, go and do my dishes”. Waaaait a minute. Each of these quotations is from a different track (telling you which would ruin the surprise, as they all sound identical), but what’s more emphatic is the sheer sexism. Pure idiotic adolescent misogyny, spilling from every corner of this album.
Let’s find a girl performing any action that doesn’t involve sex or drinking. Nope!
Let’s find a reference to any girlfriend, any relationship of any sort anywhere on this album. Nope!
Let’s find a girl’s name on this album. Nope!
Okay, so at this point maybe I just look like a hip-hop luddite: “But Transylvanilla,” your inner Snoop Dogg fan might cry (Snoop Dogg: actual literal pimp for a while there), “isn’t there rampant objectification of women in basically all hip-hop?” “There sure is,” I shout back, “and that’s an essay for another time!” Of course hip-hop has issues with this sort of thing (it’s one of hip-hop’s major remaining issues), and of course it needs to be discussed and approached in a thoughtful manner (which, in the case of many artists, it is). Does that proliferation of casual sexism in any way justify what BrokeNCYDE is accomplishing when they throw “Stupid fucking bitches, go and do my dishes” over a sample of a girl crying? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s about four feet away from advocating abuse, which really isn’t helped by the constant explicit sexuality of this album, combined with every single track’s central imagery: getting super drunk, bro.
In fact, their vile sexism (raw and unvindicated, unlike, say, Childish Gambino’s) puts us in the position to ask two more very important questions: what are their songs actually about, and who is their target audience? Their songs, unequivocally, are about themselves – and I mean literally. In fact, on one of only two tracks in which a man briefly speaks softly to a woman, before reverting to himself (“Ocean View”, one of two tracks whose production actually diverges from the dead-cheap Crunk pack), we get this clever quip about two minutes in: “The party won’t start til I walk in” (and this is after he seduces her with whispered Coldplay lyrics. Really.). So much for that girl you were chatting up a minute ago, Se7en (or is it Mikl, or Phat J?). It’s enough to make the audience wonder just what it is they have to prove here: even the ICP knows enough to actually incorporate imagery and deviant song-structures into their music. Alright, so it’s heavily, heavily narcissistic music about how many girls each of them imagines they’ve had sex with. Who’s their target audience, then? Let’s look at them. Any ideas? Take a look back at the album cover. Take a peek at their lyricism, their clothes, their bargain-bin beats, their band name (broke-inside). That’s right, guys and gals: this is heavily sexual music, with misogynistic overtones, coated in booze, aimed directly at teens too young to drink. Holy crap. Well that’s disconcerting.
Listening to BrokeNCYDE will cause your friends to abandon you.
Hold on, though, maybe I’m coming off as too much of an Old Man here. I don’t want us to censor BrokeNCYDE, I don’t want to ban their sales to minors or whatever, but literally all the evidence points in a really disconcerting direction. They call their fans “girlies”. They’re about one degree away from the levels of predatory intimation Blood on the Dance Floor once famously reached. Wait though: maybe their creepiness will be okay if we can find some positives to this album! Let’s search for them, maybe it’s a concept album or something! We’ve got our work cut out for us. Certainly the super-generic beats are danceable enough, provided that you don’t mind the lead singer’s(?) voice sounds like Kermit the Frog’s nasally-voiced nephew, that only one of these guys can rap (“Doin my Thang”, a rare crack at legitimacy), and that the production is just dirt cheap. These songs happily stumble along, strapped to disconcertingly familiar chords and hooks (alongside cookie-cutter crunk-ery), but with absolutely no ingenuity, innovation or ambition to actually do anything. None of these tracks make an attempt to articulate anything at all, and even their proposed party-atmosphere comes off intensely cheap, like they don’t even care. It’s like the most tepid, suburban house-party imaginable, and they’re all pretending the apple-juice is Cognac. BrokeNCYDE spend so much time warding off ‘haters’ it’s ridiculous, and only “U Mad Bro”, their potshot at internet trolls, actually comes off as if it were composed in the real world. It acknowledges their detractors in what could have been a really effective troll track – if it weren’t brutally misogynistic and blisteringly stupid (“I be on that space shit. You be on that gay shit”). They’re even too disorganized to bother sticking to their proposed genre – the only track that actually seems to include the ‘core half of Crunkcore is the last one, which comes as close as this album ever does to fulfilling whatever sad promise these guys once had. Even then, it does so with squeal-y screams that lack charisma, artfulness, or any of those other important traits of, you know, effective hardcore music.
Listening to BrokeNCYDE will crap your pants.
I could rant all day on these guys. I more or less already have – so what’s the verdict on the music this ridiculously lazy band clearly dreamed up in someone’s basement with the intention of scoring with “girlies” (*shudder*)? It’s a fail. Of course it’s a fail, but it’s such a resounding fail. BrokeNCYDE is one producer and a sense of humour away from being a hilarious self-parody, and to an uninitiated listener that’s exactly what tracks like “Girls Girls Girls” and “Whoa!” are going to sound like. Seated deep, deep inside BrokeNCYDE’s endless folds of stupidity, there is the promise of an absolutely picture-perfect spoof-band. It’s just a shame they take themselves too damn seriously to realize that. I’m not against offensive music, I’m not against controversial or ‘fringe’ music, and I’m certainly not against bizarre music: my beef is with lazy music. If the headlines weren’t enough to tell you this by now, BrokeNCYDE is insipid, it’s vile, and it’s worth a laugh at its expense.
Want dance tracks full of sex? Try Ke$ha. Want to laugh at some guys doing their damnedest to write some hip-hop? You’ve got the ICP. BrokeNCYDE contribute nothing at all, and at best might provide some cheap laughs. The sort you need to cry a little bit after.
And they say I have trouble writing a negative review. Originally published here: November 2011.