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Music / Bad Brains

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Bad Brains are an American Hardcore Punk and Reggae band formed in Washington, D.C. in 1977. All of the band's members are devout Rastafarians, and this is referenced in some of their songs such as "I Luv I Jah." Along with Black Flag and Minor Threat, they are one of the pioneers of Hardcore Punk, and have influenced dozens of diverse musicians, such as Sublime, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, Living Colour (who once covered "Sailin' On"), and Rage Against the Machine.

Studio Discography:

  • Bad Brains aka Attitude (The ROIR Sessions) (1982)
  • Rock for Light (1983)
  • I Against I (1986)
  • Quickness (1989)
  • Rise (1993)
  • God of Love (1995)
  • Black Dots (1996)
  • Build a Nation (2007)
  • Into the Future (2012)

Pay to Trope:

  • Dreadlock Rasta: The entire band (who were apparently influenced by seeing Bob Marley in concert), but HR is the most notable one, thanks to his frontman status.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence/Never Live It Down: Their incident with MDC and Big Boys, which will not be discussed here. Similarly, there's the lyrical content of "Don't Blow Bubbles", otherwise an obscure Quickness album track, which the band would later regret - a 2022 official vinyl reissue of Quickness features a remixed version of the song that removes the vocals entirely and re-titles it "Instrumental".
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: "Pay to Cum".
  • Motor Mouth: HR was the undisputed king of this trope back in the day. Just try and find any other song released in 1980 where the singer went even half as fast as he did in “Pay To Cum”.
  • New Sound Album: I Against I added more heavy metal and funk influences to their sound, although elements of hardcore were still present.
  • Shout-Out/Titled After the Song:
    • They named themselves after "Bad Brain" by The Ramones.
    • "MCA Dub" is named in tribute to Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch: Yauch had been a long time fan of the band, and produced their 2007 album Build a Nation.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: Especially prevalent on Bad Brains and Rock for Light, where fast and angry-sounding hardcore punk songs are occasionally broken up by a gentle, downtempo reggae track or two, such as "I Luv I Jah" or "Rally 'Round Jah Throne."
  • The Band Minus the Face: They've recorded or performed various times without H.R., and between 1990 and 1994 they went through three different singers: Taj Singleton, Chuck Mosley, and Israel Joseph I (plus a one-time collaboration with Henry Rollins on a Cover Version of "Kick Out the Jams" for the Pump Up the Volume soundtrack). So far, Rise, recorded with Israel Joseph I, is the only full-length album recorded entirely without H.R.'s involvement.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: Prevalent in "Redbone in the City". Between this and a guitar riff that's very similar to that of "God Save the Queen", the song was probably intended as a parody of the Sex Pistols.