JTF’S HS Jams Review — 3) Limp Bizkit “Three Dollar Bill Y’all$”

Released July 1, 1997; Produced by Ross Robinson

Last week I mentioned the beauty of discovering music “the hard way” by digging through the bargain bins of your local record shop, relentlessly studying cover art for something interesting, asking jaded store clerks if you could sample the music or having your more cultured friends introduce you to something they found in the same way. 

Another thing I’m very thankful for, however, is that it appears I may have been a part of the last generation who got to enjoy music videos on MTV. As an aging punker with very strong opinions on selling out, payola and striving to please the masses — not to mention being a BIG Dead Kennedys fan — I realize how off-putting it is for me to sing MTV’s praises. Yet no matter how “hardcore” one may be, I think we’d all agree that MTV was a big part of our childhood and was the catalyst that shaped our musical tastes one way or the other. 

Very much like how we’d sit around in our rooms with a blank cassette tape loaded into our boomboxes waiting for the local radio station to play “our” song so we could record it, I did the same thing with my trusty VCR, a beat-up VHS tape and music videos. While some of my friends had stacks of blank VHS tapes filled with old sports games, porn and action movies, I had stacks of VHS tapes filled with Aerosmith, AC/DC, Green Day, the Presidents of the United States of America, Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins, No Doubt and a countless number of other 90s-era bands who took advantage of Music Television at the time.

Jesse Camp, MTV VJ

Just like how you’d get a snippet of your local radio DJ speaking over your favorite song’s intro or cutting the song short with the weather report, my visual version would often include the likes of Jesse Camp, Bill Bellamy, Carmen Electra, Daisy Fuentes, Downtown Julie Brown, Matt Pinfield and Simon Rex at the head or tail. I was always very careful, however, to make sure that when the tape was in the VCR and I was going to watch videos on TV, that the tape would be at the end of the last recorded video so I wouldn’t accidentally tape over anything. 

I took this VERY seriously. 

Ironically, I feel like the music video on television began to fade away due to Total Request Live (or later, simply TRL) — a music video show hosted by Carson Daily where the top 10 music video requests of the day were counted down. What started as a show where all 10 videos were played in full quickly turned into a show that was more like an infomercial where 30 seconds of music video would play with interruptions by screaming 20-somethings in the studio, guest appearances by pop stars, unnecessary pepperings from the King Douchebag host and other nonsense filling up the time instead. It may have started as a tribute to popular music videos of the time but it quickly turned into an orgy of confusion appreciated only by those with ADD. 

I feel like despite my negative opinion of TRL and MTV in general, I have to give them credit for turning me on to the one band I’m probably most embarrassed by my adoration of — Limp Bizkit.

3) Limp Bizkit — Three Dollar Bill Y’all$

Limp hit the Total Request Live charts with their George Michael cover — a heavy, scratchy and screamy rendition of Faith. NuMetal was in its infancy and as a young teenager, I needed something that matched my feelings and emotions a lot better than the classic rock I’d fueled my life with until that point. Something a little heavier, scratchier and dare I say, screamier

I was immediately obsessed with Faith. I liked the Georgie Michael version, too, but something about the tone Wes used to play the intro riff, the heaviness of their version, the ballsiness of choosing to scream the chorus, their choice to use profanity in a very unnecessary way and even the chaos they decided to end everything with just came together to hit me the perfect way. I was hooked and, for better or worse, there was no going back. 

Getting my hands on Limp’s debut Three Dollar Bill Y’all$ was a little bit of an ordeal. As a kid in my early teens, most stores wouldn’t let me purchase the record due to the Parental Advisory sticker plastered on the cover. Wal-Mart refused to carry albums that contained explicit content and since the retail megastore was such a huge seller of music at the time, a lot of bands opted to release edited versions of their explicit records — but who actually wants that? Three Dollar Bill Y’all$ unfortunately, didn’t release an edited version, so I was forced to hit up my Slipknot referral source for some help. 

Matt told me he’d bring me the CD the next time we saw each other. So as to not alert my family to the “evil” cussy CD I was about to pick up, Matt slowly pulled the CD out of his backpack after carefully scanning the room for witnesses. It was wrapped in a plastic bag and as I reached out to take it, I quickly handed him some cash from my wallet. It was like a very sloppy, very obvious drug deal between two teenage boys. 

Oh yeah — I guess I should also point out that it was in the back pew of the church we both attended. We had similar transactions with Kid Rock’s Devil Without a Cause and Insane Clown Posse’s Carnival of Carnage.

Later that year, my Gran and Paps took my cousin Matthew and I out for a spring break vacation in Myrtle Beach. I brought my portable CD player and my newly acquired Limp Bizkit CD. It was on this trip when I did my deep dive into the record. It was a monumental trip for me because it was the first vacation I took where I could be on my own with someone my own age and I picked up my first Limp Bizkit shirt from a vendor on the strip — a rust-colored tee with cartoon depictions of Sam Rivers, John Otto, Wes Borland, Fred Durst and DJ Lethal on the front — a cartoon school bus with Limp Bizkit School emblazoned on it on the back.

It was the early stages of a serious problem. It wasn’t long before I had posters of Fred and Wes plastered all over my room. I sketched Limp’s tree-design logo on every sheet of paper I could reach, acquired a few other Limp Bizkit shirts and even got a red Yankees hat. I guess most importantly, even though I was merely 13/14, I could grow a beard and instead of growing the full thing, I decided to crop it off into a horrible Fred Durst-inspired goatee.

As an adult, the idea of another adult sporting Limp Bizkit shirts, red Yankees hats and copying Fred Durst’s goatee is a disgusting thought. But it was pretty cool to be a 14 year old hanging out in the high school locker room before football practice sporting that look. “I’m not going to mess with him — he’s got that Fred Durst ‘don’t fuck with me’ thing going on!” is a famous quote I’ll never forget hearing from a well-respected and VERY large upperclassmen when asked which freshmen he planned on terrorizing that year.

I’m now 1,200 words in … I guess I should talk about the music that made me want to copy one of the world’s most cringy frontmen.

I want to start off by saying that the intro is horrible and unnecessary. I’m not a super religious person in the first place but I still think the choice to mimic a sleazy church service was tacky and lazy. I realize Fred’s shouting of Kill the pollution works as a clever introduction to the first proper track, but it was really pretty … easy … and could’ve been omitted.

Track 3 Counterfeit was the first proper single released from the record that included a music video and some pretty serious accusations (and admission of guilt) regarding the record label paying radio stations to play it. The song is about several copycat bands that popped up in Jacksonville after Limp established their rap/metal sound and has an infectious WELL I’M SICK OF YOU TOO intro to each chorus. Though it maybe wasn’t a huge hit for the band, it’s still a strong track. 

Two other classics from this record are Stuck and Leech. Stuck belts out relentless anger toward friends who are only into the narrator for his money and is packed with Suicidal Tendencies references, hip-hop lyrics with infectious flow and an ultra-ragey chorus. The highlight of this track is the build-up toward the end of the song that breaks out into an audio moshpit very much like they did with their later track Livin’ It Up on their third record Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water (2000). 

Leech has a similar “you’re not in this for the right reasons” vibe with more of a punk rock vibe — a vibe I felt like the band lost as they continued to release records. At 2:11 it’s the shortest song on the record but it packs just as much violence as the other 12 tracks. 

I have to ding the band for Nobody Loves Me and Indigo Flow, primarily because it was an early indicator of some horrible lyrics and concepts they’d try again and again over the years. Nobody Loves Me has decent enough lyrics in the verses but the chorus doesn’t seem to fit and is childish (though I do realize it’s a reference to a dialogue Fred had with his mother when he was a kid). The lyric Maybe I’ll go eat worms is right up there with Me, I’m broke one album later and my way or the highway two albums later. 

Indigo Flow is merely Fred rapping his thank yous that should be kept in the liner notes. It’s an interesting concept that I didn’t hate until their next album Significant Other had an identical track called Show Me What You Got which was much cheesier and took the main riff from their unreleased song Cambodia, which really pissed me off because I loved that song. Their usage of that riff for such a horrible concept really turned me off and in turn made me hate Indigo Flow even though it’s completely unrelated.

Standout tracks for me are the album opener Pollution, Stalemate, Sour and of course, Faith. These four tracks combine to form the entire concept of Limp Bizkit — Medium lyrics that sound good when rapped, breakdowns and intros heavy enough to be considered metal, thrashy enough vibes to mosh to, a punk rock ethos strong enough to not be embarrassed about and generally noisy enough to keep you a little on edge while you’re listening.

I was also always fascinated with the album’s artwork — equal parts hallucinogenic cartoon and street-art-style graffiti mixed with collages. The mixed media comes together to form the perfect visual representation of what the band was presenting sonically and to add to the cool factor, I believe the art was done by guitarist Wes Borland while the layout was done by drummer John Otto.

Bringing it back to the top, Faith would sit on TRL daily until it was retired after 65 days. Three Dollar Bill Y’all$ would go on to reach double-platinum status in the United States selling over 2-million copies and would max out on the Billboard 200 at 22. This is another instance of a band’s debut being my favorite despite it not performing as well as their followups. 1999’s Significant Other went seven-times platinum in the United States and peaked at number 1 while 2000’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water would go six-times platinum and also peak at number 1. 

They had other albums after that but I lost interest in the band before I graduated high school. Even as an angsty teenager I guess I could see just how silly it was for a grown man to be jumping around looking for something to break. I later trashed my SO and Chocolate Starfish records but I still hold onto that same Three Dollar Bill Y’all$ CD that I picked up in the back pew of Harmony Presbyterian Church like it’s one of my prized possessions. 

Because it is. 

See you next week.

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