By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
The poet Langston Hughes once asked, "What happens to a dream deferred?" One possible answer is unfolding on the stage of the Whiskey a Go Go at a recent Hed(pe) show. Front man Jerred Shaine is jumping up and down, sweat dripping off the obligatory goatee that fuzzies up his chiseled jaw, his dreds swinging to the beat of B.C.'s (Ben) pounding drums. Chizad (Chad) is jumping, too, sani-wrapped in a white-boy, Parliament-Funkadelic-inspired hospital gown, complete with oxygen tubes in his nostrils. Sparks fly from the drill DJ Product uses to tweak his keyboard. Mawk maintains the rhythm while keeping a steady B-boy bounce. The Dickies-clad crowd is eating up Hed(pe)'s show and sound, a P-Funk-meets-G-Funk hybrid that the band calls G-Punk. But then Shaine—who goes by the stage name M.C.U.D.—brings everything to a dramatic stop. There's something on his mind, and he wants to share it: "Fuck your mama and the scandalous child she raised!"
Ouch! Could he possibly mean me? Naw, no way—it's gotta be one of these other chicks.
"I know you're fucking every one of my friends!" M.C.U.D. screams, continuing his rant. "You're no good for me!"
Well, I don't know his friends, and I'm not fucking M.C.U.D., so I quickly delete myself from the list of women he might be talking about. And that should settle it, except it doesn't—quite. Actually, M.C.U.D.'s big shit fit has me stalled. But the song does have a good beat. So there I am: offended but bobbing my head, not sure what to make of Hed(pe)—or its contradictory effect on me.
A week later, as I sit with the band in Ground Zero studios in Huntington Beach, there's a very different Shaine slouched against the wall in front of me. He's not as scary—he might even be a little scared of me, since I'm the one working the tape recorder. And the one with the question: So, what's your bitch with women?
"When I say something inflammatory about sex onstage, people think I'm anti-woman," he says. "But I enjoy a gritty lyrical style. It's more provocative. I'm not a gangster from the hood, so I'm going to find my own way to make things more inflammatory-sounding."
Hed(pe) comes from a generation nurtured at the teats of KROQ and MTV, bombarded by sights and sounds that were formerly incongruous elements—like alternative rock and underground hip-hop—but that now create a genre defined by blurred lines. In recent years, bands like Ice-T and Body Count, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Rage Against the Machine have sent record-store employees into a categorizing panic, trying to decide whether to install a new CD gondola and take on the weighty responsibility of labeling the new sound. The guys in Hed(pe) grew up listening to punk but were attracted to the energy and power behind hardcore rappers like Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. They borrow from the energy but not the substance—these guys aren't about pretending they're from the hood, and it's pretty hard to rap about drive-bys when you're chillin' in Huntington Beach.
They have to go with the problems they've got, and from their perspective—which is in the land of strippers and porn stars—that leaves them singing, usually angrily, about chicks. And getting a lot of reactions.
"One paper said we advocated rape," laughs Wes Geer (a.k.a. Wesstyle), who provides the screeching guitar wails behind the metal edge in the mix. "I don't know where that came from. We've never sung about rape."
As edgy as Hed(pe) are onstage, they're fairly gentle in person. Like their sound, they're a contradiction. And with all the talk about bitches and anger, it's surprising to find out the ethereal meaning behind their name. "Hed" refers to "Deep in yo mind"; (pe), stands for planet earth, planetary evolution, universal consciousness.
It seems a stretch until you consider the social issues the group addressed on its first release, Church of Realities. They sang about race, overcoming life's obstacles, government abuse and more. But they've spent a lot of time on the road since that album. And they've discovered new horrors closer to home: the music industry and, um, some ladies.
"Sure, I've gone out with women who were liars and bitches," says Shaine. "But my mom's a nice lady. I'm sure there are tons of females who are truthful and trustworthy, and I'm sure that someday I'll meet one. There are guys who are dicks I'd like to stick my fist into. It's the same thing with women. I think that anybody is going to answer the question that way if they're honest. But not everybody gets a chance to be on the mic and let their true feelings come out. It's one minute out of your waking hour. You put it down at that moment, and you have to rap it for eternity. It's only an expression of how I might feel on one Tuesday out of a week. But anything else wouldn't be honest. Any vocalist who could get up there and do nothing but sing praises about the opposite sex would not be being honest."