Korn Ice Cube Blur Line Between Rap
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Rapper Ice Cube had a message for parents during a
recent stop on the 'Family Values' tour.
'Attention, all parents,' Cube snarled from the stage. 'Report to your local therapist.
Report to your local church. Report to your local police department.'
'It's going down!' Cube shouted as the five sweaty members of Korn launched into
'Children of the Korn,' the Korn/Cube collaboration from the funk-metalers' latest album,
Follow the Leader .
The warning may have set the tone for the evening, but the music -- particularly the
cross-mixing of styles and ideas -- set the mood.
The 8,000 fans who packed the Centrum began bouncing in unison to the synchronized
jumping of Ice Cube and rap/metal thrashers Korn as they screamed along to the
anti-authoritarian raps of Cube and Korn's lead singer, Jonathan Davis.
That the predominantly white crowd was cheering equally for Ice Cube and Korn was
more telling than any onstage banter designed to spur on fans. It demonstrated in no
uncertain terms that the once-distinct lines that separated metal from hip-hop have
blurred to the point of dissolution.
The point was reinforced again and again throughout the 'Family Values' concert
Wednesday, the second stop of the Korn-organized tour that opened in Rochester, N.Y.,
the day before and continues through Oct. 23. All of the groups that performed -- Korn,
Rammstein, Ice Cube, Limp Bizkit and DJ Punk Roc -- effortlessly mixed punk, metal and
hip-hop in ways that seemed at once groundbreaking and spontaneous.
Even the name DJ Punk Roc -- the African-American DJ who opened the show with a
blazing solo-set -- reflected the rampant genre-fusion of an evening that included
metal-guitar riffage, pyrotechnics, rapping, break-dancers, DJs and moshing,
angst-ridden teen-age boys.
After DJ Punk Roc's head-bobbing opening set, Limp Bizkit took the stage and played an
incredibly fierce, tight and crowd-pleasing show that included songs from their first
album, Three Dollar Bill, Y'all . During their cover of George Michael's 'Faith,' lead
singer Fred Durst made his way out into the middle of the sweaty, moshing throng of
people, singing the saccharine lyrics of Michael's original on top of a jackhammer
metal-riff and rhythmic scratching from the Bizkit's DJ Lethal.
That wasn't the only song Limp Bizkit covered and put their own stamp on. During their
rap/metal rendition of the early '90s hip-hop hit 'Jump Around' by DJ Lethal's former
group, House of Pain, a crew of break-dancers from the Rocksteady Crew showed off a
few tricks, including a 40-second-long headspin by one member.
Although Ice Cube was representing hip-hop, he fit into this metal show perfectly with a
set straight out of 'Spinal Tap,' the mid-1980s heavy-metal mockumentary by
actor/director Rob Reiner.
The American-flag curtain swept back to reveal a 30-foot statue of Ice Cube's head (with
Cube's DJ perched atop) and Cube skulking around in a black trench-coat and top hat,
microphone in hand. His set was full of dramatics, with black-cloaked Druids scattered
across the stage, a performance of a new song ('Fuck Dying') that culminated in Cube
being shot and another song, 'Ghetto Vet,' performed entirely from a wheelchair. He
rounded out his set with a number of hits, including 'Natural Born Killaz,' 'Check Yo
Self,' 'Good Day,' 'Wicked' and two numbers from his N.W.A days, HREF='http://www.addict.com/music/N.W.A./Straight_Outta_Compton.ram'>'Straight Outta Compton'
Outta Compton'(RealAudio excerpt) and 'Fuck Tha Police.'
But for sheer dramatics and spectacle, East German cyber/S&M-metal band Rammstein
nearly stole the show.
Opening with 'Tier,' from the band's second album, Sehnsucht , lead vocalist Till
Lindermann sang as he wore a chain-mail trench coat consumed in flames. The only
song that didn't contain pyrotechnics (in the form of flaming boots, drumsticks, keyboards
and microphones) ended with Lindermann engaging in mock sodomy by spraying a
white, liquid substance from a dildo stuck in his crotch into the fully exposed posterior of
his keyboardist, who was dressed from head to toe in bondage gear.
Lindermann ended his band's set by shooting a flamethrower 30 feet out into the
audience, not far above their heads.
'I guess they don't call this the 'Family Values' tour for nothing,' said a bemused
14-year-old Korn fan, Joe Richards, who enjoyed Rammstein's set but was still a little
taken aback by it.
Not long after, Korn took the stage with their metal/disco-fusion song HREF='http://www.addict.com/music/Korn/Got_The_Life.ram'>'Got the Life'
HREF='http://www.addict.com/music/Korn/Got_The_Life.ram'>'Got the Life'
What followed was an hour-long catharsis session, with the mass of mostly teen-age
fans screaming along to Davis' angst-filled lyrics directed at parents, teachers, police
and schoolyard bullies.
The group played many of the funk/rap/metal tracks from its newest album -- including
'B.B.K.' and 'It's On!' in addition to 'Children of the Korn' -- as well as songs from its first
two albums, such as 'Blind' and the anti-homophobic HREF='http://www.addict.com/music/Korn/Faget.ram'>'Faget'
excerpt). When Davis whispered lines about being socially ostracized, the audience
screamed them, and when Davis lapsed into his rapping-in-tongues caged-animal
howls, the audience simply stomped its feet, pumped its fists or gave the middle finger to
Perry Como once sang 'Love Makes the World Go Around,' but Korn and company
proved that all you need is hate.