Review Summary: Like Candiria or Skindred? Wanna find out where they got their styles from? Check this record out.
Before becoming widely known in music circles as conspiracy theorist nutjobs, Hed PE were once one of the most promising and acclaimed bands to fuse hip hop with rock. What people don't realize by listening to the band's current music is that they actually released a number of good albums back in the day. This is one of them. (hed)pe
re-records many tracks from their debut, Church of Realities
, with a more polished production style. By this time, the band had signed to Jive Records, a label known at the time for solely releasing hip hop and dance music, in direct contrast to Hed PE's punk-based rock style.
In fact, Jive tried to promote Hed by pressing copies of ICP's Riddle Box
album that included a sampler of Hed PE songs, which is a pretty strange tactic that oddly enough came full circle in more recent years, when the two bands shared concert stages. But don't think for a second that there's any stylistic connection between the two bands. Hed PE have a pretty defined, distinctive style here that they call "G-punk". Among their diverse influences include the Beastie Boys, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Rage Against the Machine and Biggie Smalls.
Many of the tracks on the album start off with a hip hop beat and scratching by turntablist DJ Product, before jumping into the punk chaos. M.C.U.D., the vocalist, has an excellent range. His vocal presentation includes everything from melodic singing to rapping to whispering to screaming and death metal growls. It's damned impressive, and provides a wide range of moods for the cuts on this album. Guitarist Wesstyle is adept at a number of musical styles, ranging in influence from hardcore punk to heavy metal to reggae. Drummer B.C. moves the band well in its shifts from hip hop to punk to jazz to everything else.
There are quite a few highlights on this album. "Ground" is a great track which establishes the band's fusion style. "Firsty" is a more traditional hardcore punk track, with M.C.U.D. barking like H.R. from Bad Brains rather than rapping. "Darky" is one of the band's best. It's about racism. M.C.U.D. is actually "Jared Gomes", and is Afro-Brazilian. The song talks about the poor treatment he received from the fathers of sexy white chicks. Honestly, the song's breakdown is my personal defense against Korn. Remember the Korn song where Jonathan Davis screams and whines that he isn't a "faget"? To me, Jon comes across as a bit childish and homophobic on this track, even if it rails against homophobic bullies who taunted him with words like "faggot". On the other hand, Jared has a little more to say here, coming from a background where racists threw the N-word at him frequently. This song throws it back at the racists: "YOU CAN'T TAKE *** FROM ME 'CAUSE I'M A... ******!" Strangely enough, "Darky" does not appear on the band's official greatest hits album, Major Pain 2 Indee Freedom
. It should have.
Two more highlights of the band's career appear on their self-titled album: "IFO" is an early stem of the band's later political views, expressing their view that the government is covering up the existence of life on other planets, and the album's closer "Bitches", which is actually a Brazilian-influenced jazz number, with reggae-influenced vocals. This proves that Hed PE paved the way for bands like Candiria and Skindred. The music on this album is actually very ahead of its time. There's a very interesting mix of styles here. Hed PE are not rap metal or nu metal, and despite the occasional metal influence here and there, are not any genre of metal. While they may not exactly fit into any form of alternative rock or punk, they have a very distinctive and personalized style with clear originality, and their early albums show some levels of untapped brilliance, and their lyrics personified the lives of those who lived among both punk and hip hop culture, and perhaps smoked a little too much pot.
Hed PE followed with two more great albums: Broke
. They still produce some creative music, but it's probably best to stick with their first three albums, for the lack of, uh, insanity.