being introduced to the DEAD KENNEDYS and the ENIGMATIC, politically STRIDENT cultural FOLK HERO that is JELLO BIAFRA in high school was a complete revelation and game changer. it would be another few years before i got my head around 1980s HARDCORE after being introduced to such by a childhood friend, but to me the DEAD KENNEDYS were OUTLIERS in that movement. with the exception of maybe D.O.A. and BAD RELIGION, their ability to cut through the noise and deliver scathing RIGHTEOUS diatribes related to BRAZEN POLITICAL CORRUPTION, MINDLESS CAPITALISM and DISASTROUS FOREIGN POLICY decisions, both past and present, was second to none. what set them apart in my estimation was BIAFRA's bold penchant for CAUSTIC satire and EAST BAY RAY's adoration and clever reinterpretation of traditional SURF guitar motifs. the DEAD KENNEDYS sounded utterly UNIQUE and their SCATHING lyrical content was presented with a certain amount of HUMOR and performative glee and gusto that made it that much more MEMORABLE then that of their cohorts during the same period who sounded like an incoherent angry populist mob.
by the time i discovered the DEAD KENNEDYS in 1999 through other DJs at my high school school radio station, i had already lived in NIGERIA for three years and bore witness to the intersection of GLOBAL POLITICS and INTERNATIONAL COMMERCE. SANI ABACHA was the dictator during my time in LAGOS and he ruled at times with an iron fist, killing political opponents and prisoners (often in public) with no regard for human rights any semblance of a fig leaf for judicial due diligence. it was a hopelessly CORRUPT and DANGEROUS situation that was reinforced with funds from the petroleum industry, of which my family was a part of. i dont blame them for providing for us, but i came out of the experience with the notion that the world is very COMPLICATED, with many competing NATIONAL INTERESTS and AGENDAS. with a figure like BIAFRA, whose name interestingly is a reference to the former breakaway NIGERIAN republic, there is a certain unflinching gaze and distinct perspective on how to make sense of these COMPLEX issues. if anything he is shedding a light on said INTERNATIONAL CONFLICTS (KHMER ROUGE, BUSH OIL WARS I & II, SEPTEMBER 11th, AFGHANISTAN, JANUARY 6th, etc.) and foreign policy decisions in an INTELLIGENT, THOUGHTFUL and (yes) ENTERTAINING manner that tasks his audience to research and inform themselves and not become a thoughtless drone mouthing off stale copy provided by corporate media interests. in a sense BIAFRA is a secular prophet pointing the way to a better state of affairs where we are not isolated by our complicity with mobile digital platforms and political parties, instead advocating for a more INTIMATE, FORGIVING and ultimately EMPATHETIC relationship with our local community. such could serve as a point of reference for the world, rather than the threat of ECONOMIC and POLITICAL VIOLENCE via our military and long-held INSTITUTIONAL HEGEMONY through the likes of the UNITED NATIONS, WORLD BANK, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND and so on.
do i agree with JELLO BIAFRA on everything. most of it yes, some probably not but that isnt really the point. his perspective is something i cherish and seek out to make sense of the UNITED STATES' position (both past and present) in the world, much like the wider chorus of NOTABLE voices that includes that likes of JON STEWART, N SCOTT MOMADAY, TIMOTHY SNYDER, HOWARD ZINN, ALEX HALEY, HEATHER MCGHEE, ROBERT MASSIE, JOE SACCO, NOAM CHOMSKY, GEORGE CARLIN, LEA YPI, HENRY ROLLINS, MISHA GLENNY, RACHEL MADDOW, RICHARD DAWKINS, MARK TWAIN, BARBARA DEMICK, RICHARD RHODES and so on. im glad he's still around and as VITAL as ever.
embedded below is a DEER GOD RADIO episode from the winter of 2021 on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC dedicated to the music of JELLO BIAFRA and the DEAD KENNEDYS, as well as most of his side projects and collaborations of the years. enjoy!
check out HERE this recent streaming video episode of DEER GOD RADIO celebrating the outspoken HARDCORE icon JELLO BIAFRA!
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO are available here at the DEER GOD website as well as in the MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC archives.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
easily one of my favorite DEER GOD RADIO shows since its inception, this episode dedicated to 1980s HARDCORE is a topic i have further explored in book reviews for the likes of GET IN THE VAN (HENRY ROLLINS), MY DAMAGE (KEITH MORRIS) and UNDER THE BIG BLACK SUN (JOHN DOE) as well as other related episodes concerning the concurrent scene in INDIE ROCK as well as '77 FIRST-WAVE PUNK ROCK, NEW YORK HARDCORE, POST-HARDCORE, and later 90s ALTERNATIVE ROCK.
it is seemingly the topic that will never die and continues to be of interest to me, largely because it was the palette cleanser that served to further distill PUNK ROCK to its absolute core essentials, of which we have been building back up around ever since. it is the foundation for any decent ROCK music that has sprung up in its wake.
so check out this show that originally aired around CHRISTMAS 2018. hasn't gotten old yet.