Cosmic Slop #59: KISS vs NWA – or rock vs rap
As KISS’ resident arsehole Gene Simmons gets into a spat with NWA, Shaun Ponsonby asks how there can still be a rock-rap divide.
Gene Simmons of KISS is, was and always will be full of shit. Not that he cares, so long as he can make a quick buck off you. Do you want some KI$$ merchandise? Because Gene , the – ahem! – “demon”, has you covered!
Do you want an action figure of former drummer Peter Criss? Of course you don’t, but you might as well buy one anyway! How about a KISS Kondom? For just $4500 you can be buried in a specially customised KISS Kasket, not to mention cremation urns, bronze memorials, memorial prayer cards, registry books, memorial candles – there are all manner of ways that KISS can stop you dying with any dignity whatsoever. And what was the world waiting for if not a KISS/Scooby Doo crossover?
Anyone who comes up with such merchandise is obviously an utter wanker, not worth coming up with a better insult than “wanker” for. In an interview with Rolling Stone recently, he went off on one, showing how full of shit he is; “As far as I’m concerned, if Lady Gaga dropped the disco and the pole dancing and all that stuff and put together a rock band, that would be legitimate”, which presumably means that only rock music is a legitimate form of music?
His thoughts on EDM are interesting; “EDM is honest. EDM says, ‘Here’s a guy onstage who does fuck-all, he does nothing. He presses a button and puts his hands up in the air. He doesn’t pretend to be lip-syncing to a track’”. Fascinating, so it’s honesty in the music you like, is it Gene Simmons of fucking KISS? Because there are several KISS albums that various members, including yourself, barely played on.
His main subject of derision though, seemed to be rap. “Rap will die. Next year, 10 years from now, at some point, and then something else will come along. And all that is good and healthy.”
NWA were being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame after this interview was published, and the group responded. At the induction, MC Ren said from the stage; “I want to say, to Mr. Gene Simmons, hip-hop is here forever. Get used to it.”
Ice Cube took it a step further, with a righteous proclamation; “Are we rock & roll? I say, ‘You goddamn right, we rock & roll.’ Rock & roll is not an instrument; rock & roll is not even a style of music. Rock & roll is a spirit. It’s a spirit. It’s been going since the blues, jazz, bebop, soul, R&B, rock & roll, heavy metal, punk rock and yes, hip-hop…Rock & roll is not conforming to the people who came before you, but creating your own path in music and in life. That is rock & roll, and that is us.”
This is when Simmons – nobody’s favourite member of a band that also features Paul Stanley – hit back on Twitter.
— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) April 9, 2016
Well, that’s full of logistical holes.
It strikes me as extortionately ironic that he is complaining that NWA aren’t “rock & roll” enough. The source of his gripe is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – arguably the single least “rock & roll” event to be prefixed with the term. Aerosmith’s Rock n Rollercoaster at Disneyland has more to do with rock & roll than the Hall of Fame.
But, let’s take his complaint seriously for just a second. He makes the same argument that all utter morons make when pointing out why they don’t like the Hall of Fame; they’re not a rock & roll band. But since he opened up the pendant box, let’s continue to work within it. If what you are saying is that only literal rock & roll can be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, then that also disqualifies the rest of this year’s inductees; Deep Purple, Steve Miller, the hugely underrated and influential Cheap Trick. All disqualified.
“Why is that, Shaun?” I presume you ask. “Please tell us, because we’re just fucking dying to know and our lives will be incomplete until you tell us and that.”
Because we are being literal. If only rock & roll is allowed in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, then it is entirely limited to Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard et al. It means KISS are also disqualified, because they’re glam rock, not rock & roll.
To that end when Public Enemy were inducted, Chuck D made a clear statement to such comments; “Just remember, we all came from the damn blues.”
Most importantly, complaining about music you don’t understand is the single least rock & roll thing you can do. “This rap malarkey will never last” sounds the same as old people saying Elvis wouldn’t last in the 50s. Simmons essentially sounds like a doddery old man, exclaiming through false teeth; “You pesky kids and your rubbish music! It’s not like back in my day! We had songs that constantly bordered on being offensively sexist, not gritty snapshots of urban life that will timelessly resonate!” He sounds like the very establishment that rock & roll is supposed to rally against.
The white rock establishment have been wrongly predicting the death of hip-hop since the 80s, and they have been dead wrong every time. It’s time to just admit defeat. You’re not a demon, Gene, you’re a dinosaur. A fun dinosaur, that millions all over the world will continue to like entirely ironically, but the last time KISS were in any way relevant was twenty years ago when you put the make-up back on and reunited with the original band – and even that was a cash-grab nostalgia act, based entirely on songs from another twenty years earlier.
Comparatively, even NWA songs from a quarter of a century ago are still relevant today. Listen to the records – and especially Public Enemy’s – whilst watching footage from the Black Lives Matter rallies, or reports of Trumpaggedon. Now watch that footage again, this time soundtracked with KISS’ Lick It Up or Love Gun.
No doubt when the next hip-hop group are inducted into the Hall of Fame, there will be an outcry from the usual suspects, meaning that because people are largely stupid, the old rock community will continue to pour scorn on the hip-hop community.
But after all the Gene-bashing in this article, I feel it’s only fair to end on his major career highlight, the legendary actual thing KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park. And think, all NWA fans have is the widely acclaimed Straight Outta Comption biopic.
Bryan Adams has cancelled his gig in Mississippi due to their recent anti-LGBTQ law. Here’s hoping for many more cancellations, both in Mississippi and from Bryan Adams, as he is basically what Bruce Springsteen would sound like if he just couldn’t be arsed.
Bono has suggested sending Sacha Baren Cohen and Amy Schumer to fight ISIS. Fuck that – if we’re nominating people, I say send Bono.
Inspirational quote of the week; “I knew Michael Jackson” – David Gest