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Only In Amerika

(Hed) P.E.

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Album Review

According to no less an authority than band point man Jahred, getting the boot from Jive was the best thing that ever happened to [hed] pe. "Finally we've been released," he wrote in January '04 to fans on [hed]'s official website. "Now it's time to get back to some real dirty-ass sh*t!" And he wasn't kidding. Only in Amerika is the Cali combo's 2005 debut for Koch. Raunchy and abrasive, its thrash-hop spew takes cues from Anthrax, Korn, Dirty South, pre-acting career Ice-T, and the uncompromising Psychopathic Records collective. The powerful melodies and layered production of 2003's Blackout are gone — Amerika features the relentless half-time pace of ex-Otep drummer Moke, stabs of enormous guitar, and drop-ins from DJ Product. Jahred's choppy, half-yelled rhymes are ever defiant, but they're also chaotic to the point of ineffectiveness. In the space of just a few lines he promotes marijuana, insults women and homosexuals, condemns Al Qaeda, defends the first amendment, and calls out the record industry. The rap-metal hybrid "War" is nationalism at gut-level. "Don't you want your freedom?" Jahred asks in the rallying chorus, and then lists club-going, casual sex, and smoking weed as American points of pride. (And for the evil-doers, a message: "We got guns and sh*t/You're all lame.") "Box" is one of the album's more cohesive tracks, driving the swagger of its hip-hop verses through a giant guitar-driven chorus. And the slinky, pounding percussion and call-and-response lyrical structure of "Raise Hell" is a bludgeoning amplification of Lil Jon's crunk style, its tag line even cribbing from Jon's 2002 single "I Don't Give A...." Late-album entries "Amerikan Beauty" and "Chicken" are interesting musically, but they're overrun by social apathy and misogyny. And ultimately that's the issue with Only in Amerika. It wants to be a confrontational megaphone in the ear of conservatives, but Jahred's torrential rhetoric is too messy and blatantly offensive to incite anything but superficial anger, and the music — though occasionally explosive — takes a backseat to the ranting. [hed] pe diehards will love this Amerika, but it speaks only to their niche.

Biography

Formed: 1994 in Huntington Beach, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Huntington Beach, CA's (hed) p.e. (the "pe" stands for "Planet Earth") was founded in 1994 by frontman Jahred (aka M.C.U.D., aka Jerred Shaine), whose goal was to fuse the region's long-standing punk rock heritage with G-funk-inflected hip-hop — a sound he labeled "G-punk." Three years and a self-financed 1995 EP entitled Church of Realities later, (hed) p.e. (also comprising lead guitarist Wesstyle, rhythm guitarist Chizad, bassist Mawk, drummer B.C., and DJ Product @ 1969 on turntables and...
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Only In Amerika, (Hed) P.E.
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