Hey, look, first of all: Limp Bizkit wasn’t that bad.
There was a lot to hate when it came to Fred Durst and co.’s rap-metal reign at the turn of the century—the questionable fashion, the unquestionably bad album titles, the slandering of female pop stars and the extremely awful Woodstock ’99 melee. Generally, the music wasn’t unlistenable, though. Especially if you were 12 years old when you listened to it.
As a dumb suburban pre-teen who appreciated unnecessarily angsty rock music but also the Wu-Tang Clan, Limp Bizkit’s aggro-bro musings were right up my alley. “Break Stuff” and their cover of George Michael’s “Faith” were inspiringly loud; “Nookie,” their breakthrough hit from 1999’s Significant Other, remains one of the most compelling rock hits of the era, while songs like “Re-Arranged” and “No Sex” served as surprisingly effective counterbalances to the testosterone hoedowns. Hold up, is that a Bizkit-Method Man song produced by DJ Premier, that actually kind of knocks? And the music video has lots of karate and Pauly Shore?? Limp Bizkit was far more derided than equally schlocky nü-metal acts like P.O.D. or Papa Roach, and I’m convinced that that’s squarely due to their image and Durstian affectations, not the actual music quality.
But… man. “Rollin’,” the lead single to 2000’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, is as indefensible as most people think Limp Bizkit's music is. Sixteen years later, it's still impossible for any rational person to drink that hot dog-flavored Kool-Aid.
And it’s not because of the chunky guitar riffs and hyperactive production, or even Durst’s yell-rapping. “Rollin’” contains lyrics that provoke physical pain, a mélange of rhymes and attempted quotables that make the dude from Crazy Town sound like Kendrick Lamar. When I was 13, I liked “Rollin’,” but I also knew I was liking something terrible. Listening to “Rollin’” is like eating three Baconators in a row at Wendy’s, which sounds awesome when you’re a kid, but deep down fills you with existential dread.
The other day I stumbled upon a BuzzFeed list titled “27 Of The Most Mind-Bogglingly Stupid Song Lyrics Of All Time,” and “Rollin’” was nowhere to be found on it. With all due respect, that automatically disqualified it as a valid list. Or maybe “Rollin’” simply had too many bad lyrics for BuzzFeed to highlight? Consider:
1. The demented hokey-pokey of the chorus.
Durst wants you to “move in, now move out, hands up, now hands down,” at an alarming pace, but okay, we get it. Then, “Back up, back up, tell me what you’re gonna do now!” So wait—is moving out different than backing up? And does he actually want us to audibly tell him what we’re going to do now?
Eventually the thesis is presented: “Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ / WHAT!” Durst presumably does not want us to drop and roll, but is he instructing us to listen to “Rollin’” while in a car? If so, how are we supposed to execute the “move in, now move out” part? When he moans “Back up, back up,” does he mean put our rollin’ car in reverse? What the hell is going on?
2. He rhymes “right here” with “right here.”
“Now I know y’all be loving this shit right here / L.I.M.P. Bizkit is right here!” Durst crows at the beginning of the first chorus. A huge rapping party foul! Later, he rhymes, “You wanna mess with Limp Bizkit? / You can’t mess with Limp Bizkit!” The laziness is obscene, but it gets worse, because…
3. Then he calls out the bad rhymes of others!
Seconds after rhyming “Bizkit” with “Bizkit” like a true bard, Durst spits, “This platinum thing right here? Yo, we’re doing it all the time / So you better get some better beats, and get some better rhymes.” Look, if your rhymes suck, that’s one thing. If you’re actively challenging your audience to create “better rhymes,” your own rhymes better be on point!
4. There’s multiplication?
“One, two, three, times two, to the six!” is definitely a line in “Rollin’,” which is rhymed with “Chosen for your fix of that Limp Bizkit mix!” There are some different interpretations of this line on Genius, but to me, it’s always just meant “3 x 2 = 6.” Forced rhymes much?
5. Mixed messaging.
The first verse ends with lots of f-bombs to delight the rude dudes and dudettes pressing play: “So where the fuck you at, punk? / Shut the fuck up, and back the fuck up / While we fuck this track up!” Okay, fair enough, but wait—does Durst want us to respond to his question of “Where the fuck you at?,” or does he want us to “Shut the fuck up”? You can’t have it both ways, Frederick!
6. Misunderstanding of “rain check.”
One of the more perplexing lines in the song reads, “We got the gang set, so don’t complain yet / Twenty-four seven, never begging for a rain check!” We won’t even touch the reason why we wouldn’t complain if they have their gang set, but if they’re doing their thing “twenty-four seven,” wouldn’t that mean Limp Bizkit actually need a TON of rain checks, because they’re so busy crushing it? What type of appointments does “rollin’” prevent Durst and co. from meeting? And also, who begs for a rain check?
7. That bridge!
Before “Rollin’” rolls to its conclusion, Durst shouts out, in this order: ladies, fellas, people that don’t give a fuck, lovers, haters, people that call themselves players, hot mamas, pimp daddies, people rolling up in caddies, rockers, hip-hoppers, and, most confusingly, “everybody all around the world.”
What a waste of time! That latter phrase includes everything that comes before it! An editor would read the bridge to “Rollin’” and click DELETE on the first 11 shout-outs. Limp Bizkit could have kept things way more concise… although based on Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, that’s simply not their game.
The aforementioned BuzzFeed list contains some howlingly awful song lyrics, but I’d argue that even the worst offenders (Nickelback’s “Photograph,” Insane Clown Posse’s “Miracles”) don’t have terrible phrases comprise the entirety of the song. For Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin’,” there is no respite from the terror, no escape from the clunky commands and useless math equations. Are there good Limp Bizkit songs? Definitely. Are there songs with worse lyrics than “Rollin’”? Maybe, but I shudder to imagine in what dank corner of this green earth they’re allowed to grow.