54. Limp Bizkit - Break Stuff

I have to give you a little background on me in order to help you understand why I ranked this song as high as I did. I grew up in suburban Los Angeles with two parents who loved me and supported me and gave me all the tools I needed to grow up into a productive positive member of society. They encouraged individuality (which is why my two brothers and I are all very different from each other) and a thirst for learning. There was no violence in my young life and I've never felt alienated or disaffected. The thought of hitting someone in anger is something that is completely alien to me (unless someone did something to my sons or my wife, and then all bets are off). I am a relatively fun-loving white guy who considers himself one of the luckiest men on the planet for the parents I had growing up and the wife and children I now have as an adult.

So with all that prologue, "Break Stuff" by Limp Bizkit makes me want to kick someone's ass, and keep kicking it until I'm done. And if anyone has a problem with that, they're next. When I listen to it, it has to be really loud, and I should probably be alone. As the song goes on, I turn it up more and more, getting worked up to the point that violence against another seems to make serious sense.

Of course, I would never, but considering that the only fight I've ever been in was a fistfight in the sixth grade that lasted five whole punches (luckily, mine was the last), the fact that I can get that worked up by a song is saying something. And it's not just me. Plenty of people have gotten worked up by "Break Stuff." It started with Jack Bauer in the first season of 24. "Break Stuff" was used in the promos for the new drama, and CTU agent Jack Bauer had lots of pent up aggression that he would come to unleash (and unleash, and unleash, and unleash) on various enemies of the United States. But probably the most prominent example of the influence of "Break Stuff" came in the summer of 1999, at the Woodstock festival.

Limp Bizkit was playing their set when the time for "Break Stuff" came up. It was nearing the end of the festival and the 200,000 music fans were already pretty worked up. "Break Stuff" basically took their raucousness to the next level. They started tearing down the plywood walls that framed the sides of the stage and crowd surfing on them. The mosh pits became frenzy pits and sporadic vandalism broke out. Fred Durst told the crowd to "take all that negative energy... and let that shit out of your fucking system." I don't think he was trying to incite a riot, he was just trying to encourage people to let their frustrations out. Of course, when the song is called "Break Stuff," the audience might actually take you up on it. And the idiot fans at Woodstock did just that.

It goes to show the power of music and the power of a crowd. When you have lots of people in a crowd, they feed off of each other's energy, both positively and negatively. So a guy like me, mild mannered and pretty well behaved might just shove someone extra hard in a mosh pit with the right motivation, and music can be that motivation.

So that's why "Break Stuff" is #54. Music is supposed to move you, challenge you, affect you. And Limp Bizkit does this in spades. It might not be in the conventional, Beatles or Bob Marley type way, but it's powerful in its own right. They've given a voice to countless teenagers who feel like the world doesn't give a shit about them and it's right back at'cha, world. They're mostly young, white males who parents are either divorced or unhappily married. The only attention they get is negative attention, so that's why they act the way they do - any attention is good attention to a child starved of it. That's not to explain away their actions, many of which are harmful to themselves and others, but it's a causal effect. They weren't born alienated, someone ignored and/or berated them, constantly. And now we all have to clean up the mess.

But for me, I see the song as a way for me to let of some steam just by rocking out and making a fool of myself when I listen to it. I scream along with Fred and headbang harder than I do to any other song. I let my rage out through my "performance" and feel better about things when the song's done. I don't usually listen to it more than once because I've already let the steam out of my internal pressure cooker. I don't know of another song that does it as effectively for me.

Okay, enough talk about mass hysteria and the psychology of "the crowd," let's get to the song. Guitarist Wes Borland starts it off with that great guitar slam. It's simple, yet powerful. The bass mimics the guitar line, giving it that extra thump. Since this was one of the early rap-metal songs, and Limp Bizkit one of the pioneers, the mixture of the severely distorted guitar with hip-hop elements of scratching and drum machines was new and exciting.

Fred Durst's vocal style with the almost falsetto vocal upswings were an interesting way to hear rapping, rather than the established low timbre rap style that we'd heard so many times. You can see influences from Cypress Hill, but it's taken to a more sophisticated level. It's borderline singing the way he weaves his way around a sort-of melody.

The lyrics match the urgency and frenetic nature of the music and vocals.

It's just one of those days
When ya don't wanna get up
Everything is fucked
Everybody sucks
And you don't really know why
But you wanna justify
Ripping someone's head off

The lyrics are about as subtle as the chainsaw that Fred compares himself to later in the song. This is a song about anger and the release of that anger. Everyone in your life has treated you with disrespect and antipathy, and it's time for payback.

"Break Stuff" continues at its breakneck pace until it slows down for the bridge. But this isn't you usual break it down bridge, it's like an arsonist's fire, starting slowly and then building and building until it just becomes an inferno.

I'm like a chainsaw
I'll skin your ass raw
And if my day keeps going this way, I just might break something tonight

Fred repeats the line, his anger growing, and as it builds up, the wording of the last line explodes with:

I just might break your fuckin' face tonight
Give me something to break!
How 'bout your fuckin' face!

The band tears through the rest of the song, with Durst's vocals becoming more and more intense (as if that was even possible), finally punctuating with a screamed out, "So come on and get it!"

I always finding myself breathing a bit harder at the end of listening to the song, even if I haven't used it as a form of anger management and headbanged for the entire song. And if I've screamed along with Fred Durst and pumped my fist and yelled at the world, I feel a little less angry and know that my stress level has eased some. So for me, it's a way of getting really pissed, but not doing anything to anyone, and then just letting it go at the end. For others, however, it's a way for them to get angry and pissed and then go out into the world and see what happens. I don't think you can blame Limp Bizkit for the people who do stupid things while listening to their music, just like I didn't think you could blame Judas Priest for the troubled kid who killed himself while listening to their music.

We may not all be grown-ups, but we all can control how we're affected by the things we watch and listen to. If you're so easily corruptable that a band can get you to beat the crap out of someone, then it's your own damn fault, not Limp Bizkit's. Don't blame your parents or your brothers or some rock band. Take responsibility for your own actions and live with the consequences. The world doesn't owe you anything. It was here first. Welcome to real life, buddy.

I used the below video not for the thrill of watching people hurting themselves, but to show the stupid things that weak-willed people can get talked into doing, almost always influenced by others into doing it. Limp Bizkit can definitely be one of those influences. So the challenge is to listen to the song without becoming the song. Some just aren't up for the challenge. Here's proof.

This next video is Limp Bizkit's performance from Woodstock '99 where you can see for yourself the influence (or lack thereof, depending on how culpable you find Fred Durst) that "Break Stuff" had on the audience there.

3 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This paragraph posted at this web page is
    genuinely pleasant.
    my webpage :: how to make an app

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Just wish to say your article is as astounding. The clearness in your post is
    just great and i can assume you are an expert on
    this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your feed
    to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue
    the gratifying work.
    Also visit my blog post :: my computer is slow

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Remarkable! Its genuinely awesome piece of writing, I have got much clear idea on
    the topic of from this paragraph.
    Feel free to surf my web site get motivated