Biohazard "1988 demo" CSPosted on Monday, May 30th, 2005 @ 8:31am » permalink
So, here it is, Biohazard's infamous 1988 demo, aka "the racist demo". I have to say, finally getting the chance to check out these "controversial" songs years and years after first hearing all of the rumors about 'em, I don't see what the big deal is at all, and I find all of the "white power" allegations to be tremendously overblown. Besides the fact that it's kind of hard to swallow the notion that one of the most notable bands to have prominently fused hardcore/metal and hip-hop was at one point in time racist, not to mention the fact that one of their most prominent members (who handles 95% of the vocals on this demo) is Jewish, these songs – while immature – are very clearly exactly what the band says they are: Intended "to shock, be vague, and get your attention".
Now, the lyrics are hard as shit to understand throughout the demo, and ironically some of the most distinguishable lines are also the most contentious, but from what I can gauge the only track that could legitimately offend politically correct nerds would be "Money for the Unemployed", which could arguably contain some touchy comments about welfare. But what New York area hardcore band didn't have a song that hit on that type of subject matter back in the 80's (Agnostic Front, Antidote, etc.)? And let's not forget: These songs were recorded 17 years ago, so Biohazard was basically still a bunch of kids. Thus it's no great stretch to believe that some admittedly ridiculous and juvenile lyrical decisions were, in fact, strictly used for shock value.
Obviously a song title like "Master Race" is as easy a target as they come, and when the band says in an interview, "'Master Race' was a song about uniting all the underground kids, from punk, hardcore, metal, rap… street people – and rising up, like in 'The Warriors'," yeah, that's a bit of a copout. But at the same time, the fuckin' chorus does say, "Master race, in unity, Master race, it ought to be," which doesn't hold much weight one way or the other. And the above cited interview response does make more sense when you look at "America", easily the most controversial track on the demo due to the line, "We'll march across the world with American Nazi pride," because there's another line that states, "Come together as one, unite, the time has come for us to fight." And it's some of these other little tidbits that basically make it seem like the band was, in fact, talking about Americans – regardless of race – uniting together and being proud to be from this country or some such nonsense. So, yeah, it's extremely poor logic to try to correlate something like that with the word "Nazi", but whatever… like I said, they were kids. And hey, if they just wanted to create a stir, it worked, right?
I should point out that, yes, I am a Biohazard fan. I own all of their records and I defy anyone within my general age group to refute the fact that "Urban Discipline" is, on some level, an absolute classic. So to further my side of this argument, I'd cite that the lyrics to "Howard Beach", contrary to popular misinformation, are exactly the same on the demo as they are on the band's debut full-length: Frowning upon the way that the media manipulates information to incite racial tension when reporting events relating to urban violence – a far cry from any "white power" propaganda. And as for "Money for the Unemployed" and "Lying Coke Bitch"? I mean, come on… both songs are totally lighthearted, even bordering on coming across as somewhat hokey at times.
And that's the bottomline. Cheesy? Yes. Adolescent? Absolutely. Racist? Believe me, if I felt the evidence was there, I'd be the first one to admit it and say, "Man, that's fucked up." But I'm just not buyin' it. The entire frenzy surrounding this demo seems laughable now that I've actually been able to hear the material for myself. You make the call, but I'd have to see a complete lyric sheet to be convinced otherwise…
1. "Intro/Skinny Song"
2. "Master Race"
3. "Victory of Death"
4. "Howard Beach"
5. "Money for the Unemployed"
6. "Lying Coke Bitch"
8. "Panic Attack"
9. "Survival of the Fittest"
10. "Howard Beach Reprise"
11. "Outro/Skinny Song"
I might have to take some of these songs down within a couple of days to preserve my bandwidth, but I'll be sure to leave all of the otherwise unreleased tunes up for the usual 10 days or so, I just wanted to post the entire demo for those out there who are obsessive completists like myself. I also forgot to clean up the ID tags before I uploaded the mp3's, but I've only got access to dial-up right now so there's no way I'm gonna bother going through that mess again. Sorry!