It’s a bold boast whether you were talking in either hip hop, or punk, or in the afterglow of the Beasties-led revolution of ’93/’94, both. Still, I have a neat little 10″ record that purports to be both America’s Most Hardcore.
Fittingly for a record that features the Beastie Boys’ then DJ on one side and a hardcore band with one of their roadies on vocals on the other side, I bought America’s Most Hardcore in Rough Trade Records on the afternoon of the evening I saw the Beastie Boys at London Astoria 22 June 1994*.
But does the boast match up?
Okay, so cold kicking it live on side 1, let’s examine Hurricane’s* credentials. Was he America’s Most Hardcore rapper? Nope, to be honest. Dude was a first rate DJ, a charismatic fellow behind the decks but his delivery was never more than pretty good.
We get three tracks worth of Hurricane with which to judge his big hairy credentials on the LP. The first is a short intromental^ with some windy noises and ominous stuff going on (bit of a Gravediggaz vibe) which segues straight into ‘Can We Get Along?’, a laid back tune based along a gentle funky lick by the Black Voices. It has a good feel to it reminiscent of the Goats and Hurricane sounds like a less forceful Ice Cube in his delivery.
The closer is a bit of an angry dust up, ‘Elbow Room’. It’s all a bit more frantic and I do like the way it breaks down and completely changes rhythm part way through. It’s fine but this Hurricane just doesn’t uproot any trees for me.
So flip America’s Most Hardcore over and let’s see if DFL^^ can cut the mustard and claim the hardcore crown. Nah, but they give it a damn good go.
DFL were fronted by Tom, a huge dude with a flat top who roadied for the Beasties when I saw them, the line up was pretty fluid, featuring various Beasties at certain times (but not, I think, on this record).
In the very best So Cal hardcore tradition DFL fire 8 tracks at us in about 16 minutes. They’re rough, throat-shredding affairs but with a good tuneful base and lots of great swearing. My personal faves are ‘Pizzaman’, the Sabbath-on-wrong-drugs ‘DFL’ and the stompy-thuggish ‘Knucklehead Nation’^*
You either love this shouty stuff, or you don’t; I’m exactly immature enough still to absolutely love it. DFL are a good energetic crew, nice and ragged but, just like Hurricane, they lack a bit of an original spark, a little malice maybe; Circle Jerks they ain’t.
So this is a good little platter for any B-Boys completist and more to the point, the music is good, with DFL winning the contest of the sides. America’s Most Hardcore though? nope, should have called it America’s Most Pretty Goodcore. That’s good enough for me tonight.
*easily one of the greatest nights of my life. I was on the front barrier, central and got to high five all three Beasties and DJ Hurricane. Luscious Jackson and the Goats supported.
**DJ Hurricane to his mum, or Wendall Timothy Fite to his fans.
^see what I did there? I’m the flyest dope.
^^stands for Dead Fucking Last.
^*which incorporates a hilariously bad guitar rendition of ‘Star Spangled Banner’ at the beginning. Plus I’m just a sucker for any song that slows down in the middle before speeding up again.