Music Reviews

Bionic Jive

Armageddon Through Your Speaker


Way even before “Walk This Way,” rock and hip-hop were right there in it together. The glory that was “King Of Rock” by Run-DMC! The first Beasties album! Original Concept name-checking Thin Lizzy in “Here Comes the 5-0”! Ah, those were some good times.

But no one really respects any of the rap-rock groups that dominate the charts these days, not since Rage Against the Machine traded Zach De La Rocha for Chris Cornell. Let’s not name names here (cough Fred cough Korn ahem Puffy with that lame “Kashmir” rap cough ahem), but we’re all kind of starting to regret our nation’s permissive microphone ownership laws.

But here comes Bionic Jive to the rescue. Three rockers, two rappers, one pretty raw-ass sound. Ako Mack and Emerg McVay are real MCs with big gruff voices and not-very-charitable attitudes towards Bizkits and Korn: “All I hear is rock bands/With wack MC collaborations/With no structure/We on point like hypodermic acupuncture.” They sound pretty much the same, although Ako has more of a Busta Rhymes flow and Emerg sounds like he’s not unfamiliar with the Dirty South. They’re not very original as lyricists – you should hear their flat-out rip-off of Outkast on “Pump” – but they’re a damned sight better than anyone else out there fronting a rock band these days. And yeah, sure, Larry Luv and Cunni and Chris Elsner are a tight Tool-and-Metallica-influenced trio that show that they can rip shit up when they need to.

The big problem, like always, are the choruses. Every other song is more or less spoiled by an uninspired and repetitive chorus. “Ricochet,” for example, is kind of an interesting thing about being a soldier in the Vietnam War, and has some chilling images happening in the verses: “Swamp sleeper/Booby trap/Barb wires in case peace talks backfire/Bullet wounds and knife scars/Till my lungs expire/All I got left is last words for messiah.” But the damned chorus sucks so bad (“Yes yes y’all/Everybody ricochet off the wall y’all/We gon’ brawl brawl”) that even the whispered beginning of the third verse fails to make an impact the way it should. It’s a shame, and it happens over and over. Can’t anyone write a chorus anymore?

The music is the kind of crunchy rawk thing you’d expect, the lyrics are about what you’d expect (75% “we’re better rappers than you,” 25% “we have some vague political ideas”), and they go together nicely. Bionic Jive will neither surprise you nor bother you too much, and if you’re in the right mood, you might get sorta interested in this band. Overall, Bionic Jive isn’t what it could be yet… but they show a lot of potential.

Bionic Jive:

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