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And then there’s Brokencyde. During the past two years, Brokencyde (often typeset as brokeNCYDE) have become enduring victims of e-bile. The Albuquerque four-piece’s video for “Freaxxx” went viral like SARS, racking up a total of around 9 million YouTube views.
There are several miserable things about the track, which appears on 2008 EP BC13 and ’09 LP I’m Not a Fan, But the Kids Like It! Most glaring is its genre mash-up: a flashy, made-for-the-club synth line teamed with vocalist Mikl’s hyper-AutoTuned singing and Se7en’s dry-heaving shrieks.
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It’s fused into the most famous example of crunkcore, and the debauched lyrical content covers excessive boozing, weed, fine material goods and lots of (potential) fucking. It’s no visual feast either, with its gaudy neons, bad dye jobs and background girls dancing half-heartedly near a Range Rover.
In sum, it’s the perfect shitstorm of the worst in contemporary American music: an all-id experience with nary an attempt at depth. (The lone saving grace is an appearance by Bree, Brokencyde’s pig mascot, which indicates the band don’t take themselves too seriously.)
“Freaxxx” doomed them to a fate worse than snarky comments and worldwide ridicule. It’s become the touchstone of their public image, grievous enough to warrant publicizing other potential offenses (like allegations of misogynistic lyrics and the black member-free group dropping “nigga” in “Bree Bree”).
Even other musicians are taking potshots: Alex Gaskarth of All-Time Low implied that Brokencyde are the ’80s punk of the “Disney pop” set. Senses Fail’s Buddy Nielsen posted an anti-BC screed online and publicly badmouthed the band while on tour with them.
Even people who don’t hate Brokencyde don’t want the stigma of endorsing them, as in the case of Damian Abraham. The Fucked Up vocalist/generally decent dude interviewed Brokencyde for Exclaim! and called them “one of the most DIY bands in the world today.” But when Punknews.org implied that he actually liked Brokencyde, Abraham clarified his potential compliments, calling the band more “intriguing and interesting” than good. It’s not often that a public figure scurries to rescind nice things, but the experience showed everyone just how reviled Brokencyde are.
Talking to Mikl, one of Brokencyde’s lead vocalists, you find a totally different person from the guy best known for looking to “get fucking freaky now.” He’s laconic, personable and barely defensive. “I’m the more serious one of the band, but right now, they’re smoking weed all around me,” he explains in a phone call from the van. “It’s always crazy. But you know, they’re drinking every night. It’s the lifestyle.”
Without a prompt, he jumps topics. “We respect women more than anything, though. We respect everybody. That’s where a lot of people get us wrong. We’re really cool people.”
Mikl and company have long been familiar with the vitriol. They’re tired of hearing it (“It’s just whatever”), and he tries to brush it off. “If I was not doing my work, I’d probably knock your teeth down your throat, but at the same time, you’ve got to grow a tough skin and just be the bigger person. It’s an odd situation, but we do our best to let it go over our heads.”
Sometimes, the contempt goes too far. Last July, someone set up a fake version of TMZ, falsely reporting that Brokencyde were arrested on child porn, rape and drug charges. The now-defunct satirical site Mothers Against Brokencyde alleged that the band wrote songs titled “The Only Good President is a White President” and managed “The Slut Pit,” a forum encouraging underage female fans to get naked and write their names and phone numbers on their chests. Despite those claims being hoaxes, they did further damage to the band’s image.
Whether you love or hate Brokencyde’s music, the group have grown a defiant streak. In a press release for new LP Will Never Die, Se7en said, “We want to show all our detractors that all the hate they spew only fuels our music and makes us that much stronger.”
Mikl is similarly optimistic about crunkcore’s longterm potential—even though he doesn’t feel anything he can say could repair Brokencyde’s rep. “It’s everybody’s opinion. If they don’t like it, they don’t like it. But if they went into it with an open mind and they like to have fun, then they would probably get it.”