Many of us look back on the late 90s with a mixture of horror, disgust, and amusement. After all, those are the years that brought us Lincoln Park, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, and legions of other bands that combined the most annoying and ignorant aspects of white trash and poor black people. By now, most readers of Metal Inquisition will already know where I'm headed with this- I love all those bands! The late 90s were SWEET! They produced Mandy Moore, Christina Augilera, Blink-182 and Jordan Knight's comeback song, all of which are still totally great. But maybe the very best of late 90s douche rock was Crazytown, and it's time that Metal Inquisition gave them their due!
But first, on the future of the media business...
If you read gay, shitty magazines like Wired, they will tell you that physical media are dead. They'll say that nobody buys CDs anymore, that digital distribution is the future. They couldn't be more wrong. I am listening to pirated Guttural Secrete MP3s as I type this, but when it comes to bands you really love, you want to own the physical artifact. I definitely love Crazytown, so before I wrote this, I hopped on eBay and picked up the entire CxT discography, for a grand total of 74 cents. I know what you're thinking: I got ripped off! But not so fast: both CxT albums were 1 cent each, although I had to pay 72 cents for Shifty's solo album. I'm not sure what makes that one worth 36 times more than the other two put together, but valuation of physical assets is kind of a black art that I don't totally understand, so I was OK with paying top dollar to get these albums that mean so much to me.
The Gift of Game (1999)
The cover of this album has some hottie on it sucking on a lollipop, I guess because they want you to imagine her performing oral sex, and that makes you think about her having a penis in her mouth instead of a lollipop. I have a hard time getting aroused by her, though, because she combines every awful 90s trend into a single image: tribal tattoos, excessive piercings, Betty Page hair, arched eyebrows, and I'm guessing she's wearing Mudd jeans, even if you can't see them. In any case, you probably only know the hit single "Butterfly," but actually this record is packed with sick jams from top to bottom.
My favorite song is "Darkside," which showed the world that Crazytown was versatile, going from tender ballads like "Butterfly" to uptempo rockers like this song. In case you thought CxT didn't know anything about rock, Shifty's lyrics in "Darkside" namecheck the Circle Jerks, Bad Brains, Sex Pistols and all kinds of other ill shit:
Nasty na na, ha, haDamn, son!! That shit got me almost as excited as when I saw Mark McGrath wearing a Circle Jerks shirt in Sugar Ray's video for "Answer The Phone." If that wasn't enough for you, click here for a really good live version of "Darkside."
Fueled of the drama.
Drifting on the darkside.
I’m the black eye bomber.
Do what I do on a darkside
Raising hell, out the shell.
Of fantasies I never tell.
Dispersin’ untamed perversion.
My bad brain’s working,
Circle jerking, rocking riddles,
Sex pistol, sexperts
The album closes with "B-Boy 2000," which is an awesome rap/rock thingamajig featuring KRS-ONE (famous for declaring that the "li-bary" is "where they bury the lies!"). I really like the song, but there is one part I wish they would have changed. I know Shifty isn't strong in terms of quantitative methods (I mean, if he even has a GED I'd be pretty amazed), but when he drops the line "Destroying MCs with my vocal algebra," I wish that he would have said something like "vocal differential equations" or even just "verbal Lagrangian relaxation." It just sucks because I don't think he realizes that a reasonably smart 7th grader should have a pretty good handle on algebra, you know? On the other hand, I think even his staunchest critics would be quite impressed if he could, for example, uncover arbitrage opportunities with simply his lyrics!
This is the album that helped me realize that I was a douchebag. More specifically, I saw that I started out as an ironic douchebag that just listened to CxT for a joke, but had become an honest-to-god, authentic douchebag that seriously liked them. I remember the moment as though it was yesterday. I was lifting weights, and the song "Skulls and Stars" from this album came on my iPod, and I thought to myself, "Man, the lyrics to this song are really good! I can't believe I used to laugh at this band, they're seriously good." Then I thought, "Holy shit, I just flexed in the mirror while telling myself that Crazytown is a great band. What have I become?!" I'd like to think that Shifty would have been proud of me. He'd be all, "Fuck it dude, it doesn't matter what anybody thinks. People told us we were crazy for combining rock and rap, but we flipped the script on those fools. Don't even trip, fuck the haters, bro!" He's right. You can laugh at me and Shifty if you want, but just remember: they called Galileo a fool, too!
As far as the cover goes, it depicts what seems to be the same girl from their first album, only now she has a better haircut, wings, and she looks really tired. I don't get it, but I'm sure that Shifty and Epic have a hella deep explanation for every detail in the image. They always do, sort of like on Miami Ink how some self-absorbed sorostitute will come in and ask for a tattoo of a dolphin on her hip, then drone on for 20 minutes about what it symbolizes.
Split 7" with Paul Oakenfold (2003?)
After their second album, Crazytown released a three-way split 7" with Paul Oakenfold and Psycho on Ax/Ction Records featuring the single "Starry Eyed Surprise." I first heard it in a Coke commercial that they played at the theater before some movie (this is also how I discovered Forever The Sickest Kids- yay Movietunes). It is possibly the ultimate summer jam, right up there with "Steal My Sunshine."
Shifty - Happy. Love. Sick. (2004)
First, here is a review I wrote for Rolling Stone of Shifty's solo effort:
Upon initial contact with Shifty's music, I had envisioned him to be an ill-mannered and psychologically unstable man with an extremely uneducated and barbaric frame of mind, whose raps displayed nothing but ridiculous jargon, shocking sexual audacity and repulsive images of the ghetto.Anyway, here are a couple of things I bet you didn't know about Shifty and CxT:
However, after further analysis of his music I can deduce that he is the epitome of antidisestblishmentarianism who embodies the entire spectrum of the urban experience and struggle.
But to make things more plain and simple to the layman, I find Shifty to be the dopest, flyist, O.G. pimp hustler gangster player hardcore motherfucker living today. To be honest I'm totally and irrevocably on his dick.
- DJ AM, most known for banging Nicole Richie, was CxT's DJ on their first record (lolz @ his credibility if anybody finds out about that)
- Shifty appeared in the film Clifford with Martin Short
I have come to terms with the fact that I seriously like Crazytown. At first I thought it would be funny to listen to them as a post-ironic bit, like "Hay guyz I like the absolute worst band on the planet, look at me!" And it is pretty funny in that context. But like I said earlier, I turned the corner, and I honestly like their music. I seriously think their first album is really catchy and fun and I am kind of mad that I never saw them live.
Not only that, but I feel like Shifty and I could definitely have a bromance after seeing him on Celebrity Rehab. He needs someone like me in his life to help him chill out and focus on what's really important. Maybe we could start doing yoga or something, then have some hella deep conversations at the juice bar afterwards, I don't know.