Oooooooh, Enzo Amore. I legit loved Enzo and Big Cass, I really did. They were an oasis of silly catch phrases, off-the-wall humor and most of all fun in a WWE era that’s often not terribly fun to watch. Sure, neither of them were technical marvels in the ring, but they had personality, dammit, and personality goes a long way in the world of professional wrestling. Amore was easily the best promo guy in the entire company and together Enzo and Cass were giving the New Day some stiff competition for the title of WWE’s most entertaining active tag team.
It’s weird to think there’s a whole generation of kids who only know Ice-T as “that dude from Law & Order” and have never even heard the man rap, let alone heard his metal band Body Count. In spite of being young at the time, I remember when the band released their self-titled debut and the controversy surrounding the song “Cop Killer,” which was eventually deleted from all subsequent pressings of the album. I was only twelve when the album came out and didn’t hear it until a few years later, but it was evident that lost amidst the controversy was the fact that Body Count was an incendiary album of hardcore punk-fueled heavy metal that should’ve garnered acclaim for making mainstream heavy metal dangerous again thanks to Ice’s willingness to express himself in whatever way he saw fit without giving a fuck about who he might offend, rather than being a target for uptight and out-of-touch folks who believe the average American isn’t intelligent enough to distinguish fantasy from reality.
To say that the noise-rap trio known as Death Grips sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the vapid ranks that comprise the average modern major label roster is probably the understatement of the century. Yet somehow the Sacramento, CA-based group managed to ink a deal with Epic Records, bringing their utterly unique brand of confrontational hip hop to the masses with The Money Store, the first of two albums set to be released in 2012. I don’t typically look to the majors for such a high level of craftmanship, let alone innovation, so it is a complete shock to the system hearing Death Grips’ singular brand of musical mind-fuck coming from that often dunderheaded corner of the music biz.
When I was in college, it seemed like I had all the time in the world to just sit and listen to music. I would lay on the futon in my microscopic dorm room, blaring a wide array of metal, rock, hip hop, punk and classic country for seemingly hours on end. Sure, I was going to classes and working multiple jobs, but there was always at least a day or two where I could stay up until the wee hours listening, or find a long break between classes to relax with an album or two. I’d stare at the artwork, read the lyrics, the liner notes and sometimes even the thank yous while the music washed over me out of big-ass speakers, or pumped directly into my ears via headphones (until I accidentally crushed them in a drunken incident that needn’t be recounted here). I could lose myself totally in the worlds my favorite artists created, whether it was the mean streets and dope beats of Ice Cube’s The Predator or the reverbed-to-Hell midnight treble-scapes of Darkthrone’s Under a Funeral Moon.
Like any good teenage metalhead, I hated rap music. In my early youth, I had enjoyed the pop rap antics of MC Hammer, The Fresh Prince and yes even Vanilla Ice, but once metal came along, that rather embarrassing part of my musical evolution was deliberately buried and left for dead. In high school, I found myself hitching rides on occasion with my friend Jon, an eclectic, down-to-earth dude with a taste for rap in addition to rock and metal. I distinctly remember him saying, “I know you don’t like this shit, but we’re gonna listen to it,” and throwing on some random 2Pac (or was it Too $hort?) album. Even in Iowa, rap music was everywhere in the 1990s; on TV, the radio, magazines, my friend’s cars and parties, there was no escaping it. At some point I finally caved, and although my appreciation of rap never grew to the obsessive levels that my appreciation for heavy metal did, I began to appreciate it nonetheless.