I consider myself lucky to have been a child of the nineties. As you know from Portlandia’s tribute to the decade of slack, it was a time when “people were content to be unambitious and sleep to 11 and just hang out with their friends.” Start a band, start a t-shirt company, build a website, go to clown school, or don’t, whatever, no pressure…. In contrast to the hypercompetitive, social media-saturated, precarious gig economy lives of harried, overworked, underpaid millennials, we had it pretty easy. But we knew things were poised to explode. At the same time, it was a decade of cultural passion for revolution, peace, and justice—conscious hip hop, Riot Grrrl, Lilith Fair, and Rage Against the Machine, maybe the most radically uncompromising band since Crass. The rap/rock/metal hybrid seamlessly blended the revolutionary funk and political fury of Public Enemy with the virtuoso riffage of Eddie Van Halen.
I only wish that, like the guy in the video above, I could hear them again for the first time, blasting from the car stereo, blowing my mind every few seconds. How is it that this guy had never heard Rage’s incredible self-titled debut? For one thing, I guess, he probably hadn’t even been born when it came out in 1992.
For another, he’s a hip-hop head who didn’t listen to rock and metal until recently, when, as his YouTube channel documents, he decided to start sampling bands in his car and uploading his real-time reactions. How very 2018. He’s exposed himself to some great stuff—Megadeth, Deftones, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Motörhead. He’s sampled Audioslave, guitarist Tom Morello’s post-Rage supergroup. And some other bands I won’t comment on.
He also put together a mixtape of metal he thinks would cross over to his hip hop friends. Unsurprisingly, many of the bands he recommends pull heavily from Rage Against the Machine, who themselves pulled from the Beastie Boys, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies, Faith No More…. Rage didn’t come from nowhere—we’d heard conscious rap and metal meet before, even just the previous year when Anthrax and Public Enemy put out their version of “Bring the Noise.” The late eighties/early nineties produced organic rap/metal crossovers before the problematic advent of “nu metal.” But when YouTuber YouYouYou!!! hits pause at 3:38 and screams “WHAT IS THIS! WHAT IS THIS!” I relate. It was more or less my reaction when I first heard “Know Your Enemy,” “Take the Power Back,” and “Killing in the Name” blast from the tape deck. YouYouYou!!! takes recommendations. I recommend he work his way through all of Rage’s catalog.