Courtney Love may have accused The Muppets of ‘raping‘ the legacy of her late ex-husband after Jim Henson’s creations tortured Jack Black’s character with a rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” [LISTEN] during last year’s charming big-screen comeback. But to be fair to the likes of Beaker and Rowlf The Dog, there are far more damaging examples of Kurt Cobain’s memory being desecrated than their harmless barbershop quartet cover version. And Cobain himself, anyhow, of course was better at turning rape into a metaphor; [LISTEN].
Indeed, though, ever since the Nirvana frontman killed both himself and the whole grunge scene back in 1994, his name has been shamelessly bandied about more than every single member of the mythical ’27 Club’ put together. Even Jay-Z, who last week received permission from Love – no irony there – to riff on the most iconic lyrics from the band’s signature hit - “and we all just entertainers, and we’re stupid, and contagious” – for new Justin Timberlake collaboration, “Holy Grail,” couldn’t resist sneaking in an extra Kurt reference when acknowledging the mistakes he’s made in his life – “I know nobody to blame, Kurt Cobain, I did it to myself.” Here’s a look at five tracks which have perhaps used Cobain’s name in the most contentious manner.
Cobain’s grisly demise appears to be a constant source of fascination for hip-hop’s enfant terrible, having been remarked upon on hidden Recovery track “Untitled” and the title track from D12’s debut, Devil’s Night, while a headless Kurt also featured in an episode of his The Slim Shady Show animated shorts series. But taken from his breakthrough second LP, it’s the Le Pamplemousse-sampling G-funk of “Cum On Everybody” which features both his most distasteful lyrical nod to the whole incident and one of his most transparent attempts to push people’s buttons: [LISTEN]
Outsidaz – ‘Sign Of The Power’
However, at least Eminem didn’t compare Cobain’s lifeless state to a Chinese noodle dish. Displaying a staggering lack of tact and sensitivity, the New Jersey collective not only put every listener off shrimp lo mein for life on this quietly eerie ego trip. But resembling a hip-hop version of Nick Broomfield, they also acknowledged all the conspiracy theories that had floated about during the previous seven years by questioning Love’s role in her husband’s death: [LISTEN]
Released just two years after Cobain’s passing, the penultimate track from Xzibit’s cult West Coast classic At The Speed Of Life posed the question ‘when is it too soon to make fun of a tragedy?’ The Pimp My Ride host’s almost blasé attitude to the method of suicide could be considered just as offensive as his peers’ more gory and graphic one-liners. But it’s hard to deny that his wry spin on the situation has more comedic value: [LISTEN]
Unlike the previous examples, all of which use Cobain’s name solely as a punch-line, the fourth release from The Amazing Jeckel Brothers has a fair point to make when it comes to the contrasting ways in which his and Eazy-E’s untimely deaths were reported. Sadly, the horrorcore duo’s message is undermined by the Batman-esque sound effect used to signify Kurt’s last moment and the insinuation that his decision to ‘blow his face off’ was little more than a quick-fix route to secure a place in rock history: [LISTEN]
Appearing on the same To The Faithful Departed LP that also contained “I Just Shot John Lennon,” “I’m Still Remembering” proved once again that when it comes to rock star tributes – few can match The Cranberries for sheer triteness. Dolores O’Riordan’s heart might be in the right place here on this mawkish folk ballad but the way Cobain’s name is shoehorned into its closing verse suggests it only appears because it kinda rhymes with ‘remain’: [LISTEN]