By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
DEEJAY PUNK-ROC sees the world through the eyes of a chicken with its head cut off. At least that seems to be the implicit gag behind the cover of the Brooklynite's debut disc, ChickenEye, which features a beaming woman cooking a rooster head in a frying pan. While Punk-Roc has been touted as the next big-beat thing, his music has little of the over-the-top acid house fervor that drives big-beat bad boys like the Chemical Brothers. In fact, ChickenEye ignores most of the last half-decade of electronic music, focusing instead on shamelessly cheeseball house beats, slapstick shout-outs, guttural grunts, and daffy TV samples. Punk-Roc's playfully boisterous attitude hearkens back to his old-school idols, Run-D.M.C., Slick Rick, and Grandmaster Flash.
Punk-Roc's prankster persona does have a funk soul brother in Fatboy Slim (a.k.a. Norman Cook), whose most recent album, You've Come a Long Way, Baby is basically a self-referential gag about a dorky, white British guy (i.e., Slim) using his magic sampler to turn himself into a Bronx bomber. Both Slim and Punk-Roc sneer and giggle as they sample, styling their tracks as jokes you can dance to rather than simple dance tracks. Unlike Slim, whose music is entirely apolitical, Punk's rock can get heady and confrontational, at times approaching the delinquent energy of agit-rocking digi-Krauts, Atari Teenage Riot.
ChickenEye's best track, "I Hate Everybody," toys sinisterly with a series of punk tropes. Over swelling, gloomy power chords, a woman's voice seethes with indignation: "I've seen children come off the dance floor with crushed ribs, and bloody faces, like soldiers of some kind of insane war." The breakbeat momentum builds to the bridge (with its catchphrase sample: "I say we blow the fuckers up,") and then winds down with a plea for wage-slave rebellion: "Get a job working for the man/Blow his brains out as fast as you can."
The rest of the album is a sea of cheesy electrofunk ("Busted Speaker"), vocoder-enhanced babble ("My Beatbox"), and smooth, loping grooves ("The World Is My Ashtray"). It's a dumb, hedonistic beatfest that's hardly revolutionary--but that's exactly what Punk-Roc thinks punk was in the first place. "Stop worrying about the punks," a woman whines on the short sample snippet, "Punks," later assuring us: "they'll probably be doctors and lawyers someday."