Top 15 Afro-Punks
Thu Aug 18 2011
12. Garland Jeffreys
Unfortunately, not many punks know who Jeffreys is. But they do know his 1977 song "Wild in the Streets," which has became a skate-punk anthem thanks to the covers of bands like the Circle Jerks and Hot Water Music. As a college friend of proto-punk legend Lou Reed and collaborator of John Cale, the Brooklyn native has a strong pedigree with the Downtown underground. Jeffreys took a long break from recording and touring, but he has returned this year with The King of In-Between, his first record in 15 years. His new material jumps genres and styles, but still maintains that outsider spirit and political topicality that has been essential to his work and is crucial to punk rock.
11. Pat Smear
Born Georg Ruthenberg, guitar player Pat Smear is a punk-rock veteran who's seen the music from its humble beginnings in the late '70s all the way to its current cultural and commercial prominence. Along with frontman Darby Crash, Smear was a founding member of the notoriously rowdy L.A. punk band the Germs. The band drew on the influence of groups like the Ramones and the Stooges to create one of the first hardcore punk albums, GI, in 1979 and influence a horde of soon-to-be grungers before disbanding in the wake of Darby Crash's 1980 suicide. Smear went on to tour with Nirvana after the release of In Utero, and along with Dave Grohl, he transitioned into the extremely successful Foo Fighters.
10. Body Count
Legendary West Coast rapper Ice-T's first foray into thrash metal—the protest song "Body Count," from his 1991 rap album OG Original Gangster—might have been perplexing to his audience. But looking back at the 1992 Los Angeles riots over the videotaped beating of Rodney King, bombastic hardcore riffs might have been the best backdrop to express the powerless rage blacks felt in South Central towards the LAPD. In 1992, Body Count went from the name of a novelty song to a full-on side project, when T collaborated with high-school friends to create one of the most controversial records ever. Body Count's self-titled debut features "Cop Killer," a tune that probably belongs on our Top 25 Patriotic Protest Songs list. Released shortly before the 1992 riots, the police-murder fantasies portrayed in the song upset everyone from then-President George H.W. Bush to police organizations across the U.S. Although Body Count has gone on to release other albums, its debut has been the most enduring for its controversy but also for perfectly capturing the zeitgeist of the times, like many other classic punk and metal albums.