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Music: You'll want to wash their mouths out with soap

Sunday, October 29, 2000

By Ed Masley, Post-Gazette Pop Music Critic

F-words flying everywhere, Limp Bizkit hit the charts at No. 1 with "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water," an album that eases you into the gutter with a song that features nearly 50 uses of the f-word, from an "[effed-up] kid" with an "[effed-up] knife" to DJ Lethal's "[effed-up] eyes." Effed-up on the chronic, no doubt. (For you parents, "chronic" means marijuana.)

And when frontman Fred Durst, last seen inciting a riot at Woodstock, urges you to kiss his chocolate starfish, we'll leave it to you, the reader, to figure out what body part he means by that. Still guessing? Then you haven't seen the starfish on the album cover.

There's plenty of violence, too. On "Full Nelson," Durst invites detractors to talk their [s-word] to his face and get knocked the [f-word] out, 'cause their mouth's writing checks that their [chocolate starfish] can't cash. But don't blame Durst. The movies made him violent. After all, as he boasts in "Livin' It Up," he's "seen 'The Fight Club' about 28 times."

Is all music aimed at teens as unhealthy as Bizkit?

No, of course not. But the music that is has a far better chance of selling to teens in the millions.

Look at Eminem. Or Ja Rule, last week's No. 1, with such uplifting raps as "Die," "[F-word] You" and "6 Feet Underground."

If there's a rule to teen appeal in pop, it's this: If you sticker it, they will come.

More? Here goes:

There's a well-deserved parental advisory sticker on "Southern Discomfort" by Rehab, an album that starts with a skit that finds the duo escaping from rehab. As they sing in the chorus of "Hey Fred," a song that celebrates the use of heroin and other drugs, "[F-word] that rehab [s-word]." Nearly every song romanticizes drug abuse. As they themselves admit, "I'm surprised I got a deal/Every two hours I take a pill." In that same tune, they rap, "I'm suicidal/Got a lotta demons to fight/I'll probably sit in a chair and put my mouth around a rifle."

Mastamind, a member of the Detroit hardcore rap group Natas (read it backwards), sends the first track of his stickered album out to all the killers and dealers. On the title cut, he's "The first to blaze when it's time to ride/Put the blunt to my lips, just smoke." On "Thug World," it's "another day, another hit" as he warns his enemies, "If you got issues with me, don't make me dis you/Tell your bitch to come here/I like what her lips do."

"Take a Bite Outta Rhyme: A Rock Tribute to Rap" was apparently stickered more for f-word usage and sexual content than for adding to the violent ideas in the heads of this year's Trenchcoat Mafia. Not that there isn't a body count. Insane Clown Posse, after all, is in the house. But by the sinking community standards of a year in which a guy like Eminem sells 7 million records, it isn't especially sociopathic. Even the cover of "Boyz-N-The Hood" by Dynamite Hack is played for laughs on acoustic guitar, which effectively dulls the impact of both the misogynist swill and the glorification of assault. Sample lyric: "Started talkin' [s-word] and wouldn't you know, I reached back like a pimp and I slapped the ho."

You won't find that level of vulgarity or violence anywhere on new releases by the Dum Dums and Nelly Furtado, two of more than 50 new releases out last Tuesday. And both recordings will be marketed to teens, especially the MTV-compatible Furtado (who does, in the interest of full disclosure, use an obscenity in a title).

And you clearly won't find any swearing on the new Christina Aguilera Christmas album.

Whether those releases -- or edgier, positive records by the likes of Bratmobile -- are too corny for your children depends, in part, on how you've raised them.

Or did you let pop culture do it for you?

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