According to no less an authority than band point man Jahred, getting the boot from Jive was the best thing that ever happened to [hed] pe. "Finally we've been released," he wrote in January '04 to fans on [hed]'s official website. "Now it's time to get back to some real dirty-ass sh*t!" And he wasn't kidding. Only in Amerika is the Cali combo's 2005 debut for Koch. Raunchy and abrasive, its thrash-hop spew takes cues from Anthrax, Korn, Dirty South, pre-acting career Ice-T, and the uncompromising Psychopathic Records collective. The powerful melodies and layered production of 2003's Blackout are gone -- Amerika features the relentless half-time pace of ex-Otep drummer Moke, stabs of enormous guitar, and drop-ins from DJ Product. Jahred's choppy, half-yelled rhymes are ever defiant, but they're also chaotic to the point of ineffectiveness. In the space of just a few lines he promotes marijuana, insults women and homosexuals, condemns Al Qaeda, defends the first amendment, and calls out the record industry. The rap-metal hybrid "War" is nationalism at gut-level. "Don't you want your freedom?" Jahred asks in the rallying chorus, and then lists club-going, casual sex, and smoking weed as American points of pride. (And for the evil-doers, a message: "We got guns and sh*t/You're all lame.") "Box" is one of the album's more cohesive tracks, driving the swagger of its hip-hop verses through a giant guitar-driven chorus. And the slinky, pounding percussion and call-and-response lyrical structure of "Raise Hell" is a bludgeoning amplification of Lil Jon's crunk style, its tag line even cribbing from Jon's 2002 single "I Don't Give A...." Late-album entries "Amerikan Beauty" and "Chicken" are interesting musically, but they're overrun by social apathy and misogyny. And ultimately that's the issue with Only in Amerika. It wants to be a confrontational megaphone in the ear of conservatives, but Jahred's torrential rhetoric is too messy and blatantly offensive to incite anything but superficial anger, and the music -- though occasionally explosive -- takes a backseat to the ranting. [hed] pe diehards will love this Amerika, but it speaks only to their niche.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus