(hed)pe's debut outing, their self-titled Jive debut, bloomed during the years when fans and record labels first began noticing that this rap and metal fusion was a readily marketable commodity, and though as an album it was only average in sales, the band rapidly gathered a dedicated cult who found inspiration and a unique perspective in the group's music. When the time came for (hed)pe to enter the studio once again and begin setting the groundwork for what would become their follow-up album, 2000's Broke, they found themselves emerging as one of the premiere rapcore groups in the United States while remaining quite underground, relating to groups such as Limp Bizkit and Incubus, who had begun finding acceptance on the national platform. Broke is essentially (hed)pe's answer to mainstream radio appeal, finding the California quintet modernizing their sound for mass acceptance while still retaining the spark that made their debut so independently accepted. From the rabid lyrical attack of vocalist Jahred and the Dead Kennedys' East Bay Ray on "Killing Time" to the laid-back, thought-provoking beats of "Jesus (of Nazareth)," (hed)pe still proves beyond a shadow of a doubt they remember their roots; overall, Broke is the album that should have pushed these men to the forefront of the genre, yet didn't. Much of the group's intensity was lost on Broke, which opted for slick production and mundane verse/chorus/verse formatting rather then continuing to blaze a path as the hip-hop-influenced hardcore band (hed)pe's debut album proudly announced they were. Despite this drawback, Broke is a much more accessible album for interested fans, and even features a few respectable guest appearances from System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian and Kittie frontwoman Morgan Lander on "Feel Good." "Crazy Legs" attempts to skirt the line between pure street rap and gritty crossover, yet fails due to its inept lyrical content. "I Got You," with its thunderous bass thump and gritty guitars, stands out as one of the album's best songs, as Jahred alters between a remarkably relaxed tone to a more intense bellowing that does the rapcore scene supreme justice in merging the two musical styles into one cohesive unit of sound. Likewise, "Boom (How You Like That)" displays a hip-hop signature, biting other songs' recognizable lyrics with references to the green leaf and kinky sex. (hed)pe also moves to the other end of the musical spectrum on Broke's closing track, "The Meadow," abandoning the aggressive guitar riffs and instead toying with acoustic guitar melodies and saccharine-sweet programming. Jahred opens up and finds his more soulful side, and this revealing aspect ends the album on a high note. Broke may have not found as much success in the competitive mainstream market as some would have liked, and even despite its distinct departure from the group's debut, it is an album that shows more vision than other rap-tinged rock albums to come out in 2000.
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AllMusic Review by Jason D. Taylor
feat: East Bay Ray