by Charles Osborn
Three Dollar Bill, Y’All$ remains one of my top 25 or so favorite albums ever released, and it’s by Limp Bizkit. The next several hundred words will be dedicated to the justification of this seemingly egregious blow to my musical credibility, and I encourage non-listeners of this album to play it through in its entirety once, as well as already-listeners to spin that shit back loudly.
I don’t remember how culturally relevant Limp Bizkit started out its career, which was essentially when they dropped this articles namesake album, but I do remember what happened when Significant Other came out. Their second album and, depending on who you ask, probably their most identifiable, Significant Other isn’t a terrible album to my ears, even after 100 listens and years of “Holy hell, I should know better than this by now.” It has a couple of great songs on it (“9 Teen 90 Nine,” “I’m Broke), a couple generic hits (“Nookie,” “Break Stuff”), some structurally confusing entries that would later become characteristic of the band during the most pronounced stretch of their decrescendo from the public eye (“Re-Arranged,” “Show Me What You Got”), and “N 2 Gether Now,” which transcends explanation and, frankly, sound. This was Limp Bizkit’s moment in the sun: According to Wikipedia.org, Significant Other topped the “Billboard 200,” “Top Canadian Albums,” and “Top Internet Albums” (“the big three”!), and if you ask a general person to yell out a Limp Bizkit lyric, he or she will almost certainly scoff, and might even disgustedly spit on you, but you’ll eventually get something like “Nookie!” or “Break shit!” Limp Bizkit, through everything they released in this century, brought this musically poisonous reputation upon themselves. I mean, holy shit is most of their music terrible or what?
For the purpose of this review, I ask the unreasonable favor that you disregard Limp Bizkit’s discography as you know it, and maintain an open mind.
This track is about 40 seconds of vaguely religious nonsense, so I’ll use this space to offer casually that Limp Bizkit’s lyrics shouldn’t be taken too seriously under any circumstances. Maybe this discredits every positive notion I could offer about the band, but as one of their foremost supporters, even I will admit that Fred Durst is mostly just a crazy person with his lyrics. We are talking about Nu-Metal/Rap-Rock here, let’s not try to find Brian Wilson parallels nor Bob Dylan-esque complexity-thru-simplicity. Fred Durst, like 50 Cent, grew up idolizing one of the more lyrically and stylistically gifted hip-hop artists of all time in Rakim (countless examples of homage litter Durst’s lyrics, including the opening line to “I’m Broke”). Where other musical pioneers inspired countless contemporary artists to “find their voice,” Rakim seems only to have inspired Fred Durst to jack Rakim’s voice without any of its immortal flow, cadence, tempo, tone, you name it. If it weren’t 2012 and you actually owned a thesaurus in physical form, the antonym of “Rakim’s charismatic albeit monotone voice” would be “Fred Durst’s emotionally erratic scream-rap.” Rakim’s “I came in the door / I said it before / I never let the mic magnetize me no more,” which just sounded right slithering its way out of Rakim’s mouth a decade previous, seemingly inspired Durst’s lazy rhyme schemes and infantile grasp even of the most rudimentary human emotions. But I mean, what are you going to do, right?
Having exposed that arguably fatal caveat to Limp Bizkit’s musical proficiency, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of this incredibly enjoyable album.
This song is either the album’s second or third most popular offering, and it does quite the job of setting up the rest of the album. The first minute and twenty seconds or so of “Pollution” might as well be the segmented poster-child of remaining hour or so of music. If this album is a big ol’ bag of hallucinogenic mushrooms, “Pollution” is that first feeling of “wait a minute, something isn’t right.” Get used to that feeling, because LB doesn’t plan to let up. The guitar and bass sections go quite hard, and although most of his shouts are unintelligible, Durst’s vocals actually supplement this song perfectly. As is the case with basically all of Limp Bizkit’s songs, the last minute or two of the song dictates its “quality”, and “Pollution” sets that tone by concluding with a Durst tirade during which he curses himself out. Welcome!
This one’s in the running for the coveted title of my favorite Limp Bizkit song ever, the first 45 seconds of the album’s second actual song consist of Durst weirdly whispering about how someone is a fake (hopefully not literally). The latter four minutes contain Durst rapping ambiguous lyrics that could just as easily appear scribbled on a high school bathroom stall, over a spectacular bass line, before finally devolving into yet another Durst tirade set from “automatic” to “burst.” It ends with Durst beat-boxing for nearly half a minute. Overall, I prefer this song to many other LB offerings because it is relatively consistent with its tempo, and because Durst’s vocals are again more of an asset than a detriment.
Although the first couple songs could be construed as messages to a woman or women, this one makes itself clear. Durst raps over another excellent bass line, which eventually combines with one of the more killer guitar sections of LB’s career (it’s right about in the middle of the song). After that, Durst, who asserts that there “ain’t nothin’ like a dirty bitch,” starts literally to moan about how shitty his unnamed female antagonist is, asks her why she has to be like that, and repeats himself. Most of all, though, he allows the guitar, drums and bass to do their collective job of making him seem coherent. The song ends with another strange beat-boxing scenario, which couldn’t be described as enjoyable. What can you say, sometimes a dude’s just stuck, you know?
Nobody Loves Me
The album’s first entry that falls short of its set standard, “Nobody Loves Me” is still decent in parts. To take the title literally is to make me proud, because that means you took my prior advice! This crap means nothing! Several times during the album’s fifth track, Fred Durst wonders if maybe he should “go eat worms,” negating any goodwill he may have previously cultivated with the worm community, who would soon become his assumed target fanbase. Overall, as far as Three Dollar Bill, Y’All$ is concerned, I could do without this track.
This track allows guitarist Wes Borland sporadically to show off his sweeping technique, as well as it allows Durst to speak the name of the album, declaring his foe “as real as a three dollar bill.” Chorus lyrics include “There’s no one to blame but you / Who gets the blame? Me,” which resurface almost verbatim two albums later during “My Generation” (“Who gets the blame / You get the blame, and I get the blame”). As always, paying particular attention to the track’s concluding minute, you get a sense that the album may be on its way toward mellowing out (after all, the opening lyrics to Sour are “Mellow out!”). It is the first song that ends more gently than it begins, and it indicates a lull in the album’s middle.
Following the end of “Sour’s” lead, “Stalemate” opens with a wacky bass line and continues into a central segment of the song that juxtaposes this momentarily unique new style with Durst’s familiar violent screaming. I find this song unnerving as a fan of extremely hard music because I feel as though the band missed an opportunity in the former half of the song to really go hard. The latter half sounds borderline Arabian to these ears, and the lack of explosive elements within the song is briefly compensated with a unique stretch of music by Limp Bizkit’s standards. Unfortunately, the last two minutes or so sound like a jumbled mess, and the song is put out of its quite lengthy misery with a smattering of jam-band crap and sustained amplifier feedback. Appropriate!
“Clunk” is the most generic Limp Bizkit song on the album both musically and lyrically, and with its background moans, KoRn-inspired detached guitar riffs, radiobabble mumbling, basic turntablism, and relative non-ending, paved the way for the sound that would define Significant Other.
A George Michael cover, this song found popularity among some circles for its commercially palatable verses and (sorry to overuse the word) generic screaming chorus. Staying relatively faithful, no pun intended, to its original incarnation, “Faith” gives Durst the opportunity to enunciate clearly one second and to scream bloody murder the next. After screaming “Get the fuck up!” to set off the songs final chapter, it culminates finally with the most Limp Bizkit 45 seconds of music ever recorded. According to Spotify, this is the album’s most-played song currently.
I have read the lyrics to this song over an over, and I’m still not sure what they mean. I know that I absolutely love the line: “Love thy neighbor? / Yeah right!” and that Durst has a stinky, stinky finger, but I can’t seem to nail the specifics. I suppose it says something about my taste in music that I can easily translate Ghostface Killah’s “Shakey Dog” into normal human English, yet I can’t understand what this asshole is saying about pissing on gates. Either way, this one and its successor, “Indigo Flow”, are each very lyrically confusing.
“Indigo Flow” seems like a shout-out song, which isn’t alien to Limp Bizkit’s discography. By this point in the album, I usually find myself sick of Limp Bizkit’s experimental garbage and wanting them to return to their hard rock style from the album’s genesis. This, I’d say more than anything, proves where LB went wrong throughout their career: they should have just stuck to the hard stuff and avoided nu-rapping. Although both “Stink Finger” and “Indigo Flow” hold up better than “Nobody Loves Me,” their placement within the album’s tracklist voids them of most of their worth, to me.
This one starts off with a driving guitar section and bass line, transfers to a frantic drum section spread out behind Fred Durst’s temporary-rapping-turned-refreshing-screams. The last 30 seconds of “Leech” feature Durst’s iconic (in my mind) scream, as well as one of the heavier stretches of music on the entire album. My biggest complaint about “Leech” is that it is too short, which is the same complaint I have about Nas’s Illmatic, so do with that information what you will.
Sixteen and a half minutes of jamming. Whatever, bro.
Is Three Dollar Bill, Y’All$ a Limp Bizkit album? Yes. Does its title contain a rogue dollar sign? Debatable. The most important take-away from this album is that a band who would ultimately live long enough to see itself become a villain did not actually start out that way. Limp Bizkit’s legacy has already been crafted, and the band’s very name will probably remain synonymous with terrible music for years. But in 1997, when I was eight years old, this soon-to-sell-out group from northern Florida released an album whose quality I believe has been crushed beneath the weight of its successors’ lack thereof.