Mickey Avalon's self-titled debut begins with "Waiting to Die," featuring fuzzed beats and the kind of melody that puts the hop in hip hop.
"I came twice this shit as any German scheiße flick," Avalon says in an almost lethargic rhythm, "I'll sperm in your perm, leave cigarette burns on your tits." It couldn't be any more clear: This ain't your average hip-hop record, and Mickey Avalon ain't your average rapper.
"I think right now, the music world is completely devoid of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll," Avalon told me from his hotel room in Minneapolis. "I think rock 'n' roll is even devoid of rock 'n' roll. I think all this emo stuff is really a sad state of affairs. There's no gusto; there's not anyone just getting out there and sticking it in your face and swinging it around. Everyone's whining, and I don't know what they're whining about. What's wrong? Why is everyone so sad? And they're like, oh, my girlfriend's cheating on me, and it's like, duh, the reason she's cheating on you is because you're a fucking pansy! If you had some balls, then maybe she wouldn't be doing that, and you wouldn't have to sing a song crying about it. I'm not trying to pretend like there's not tragedy going on and stuff, but at the end of the day, you have to be able to just leave it at the door and just fucking smile, just dance. Fuck, whatever, just get out of it."
Mickey Avalon is sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, but with two turntables and a microphone. As a skinny white Jewish kid from Los Angeles, Avalon is the last person you'd expect to turn out the kind of hip hop that speaks of drugs and murder along with a pubescent sense of sexual humor--but Mickey Avalon is redefining what it means to live and die in L.A.
Avalon's career as a hip-hop artist began when he befriended former MTV VJ Simon Rex, aka Dirt Nasty. Avalon's self-titled record was originally self-released, then re-released by MySpace Records in conjunction with Interscope. The latest peak on the climb to fame happened last week, when Mickey Avalon and crew (his backing group, composed of Andre Legacy and Dirt Nasty, is known as The Dyslexic Speedreaders) opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Oklahoma.
Underneath the glossy glam-rap theatrics of Avalon's music is a deeper sensibility. Avalon's songs of abject disillusionment are served with a twist of satire and a large helping of honesty. His past is full of drama and tragedy: drugs, death and prostitution. His grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and Avalon himself has seen his fair share of horrors. His songs are somewhat autobiographical, but, as Avalon made clear, "I didn't write any of the stuff for people to understand or not understand. If you didn't know anything about me, you could take it as satire. I mean, the stuff is dark. It's funny, but it's dark."
Avalon seamlessly moves from the goofiness of "Jane Fonda," which features a laundry list of girls set to a bubbly melody, to the darker refrain of "do what you gotta do to get off the streets" from "Roll the Dice."
"I think rap is the folk music of the day," said Avalon. "Folk music is just someone telling their story and their plight in life, telling the truth, whether it's lost love or traveling or anything. The only thing that has to be there is that you're telling the truth, and that you're telling your story. ... Maybe I'm crazy, but I think people who are innovators--I think someone like Bob Dylan, or Lou Reed, if they were coming of age now, I don't think they'd be trying to be in a rock band. I think they'd be rappers."
Avalon's stories of the Los Angeles celebrity life blend with stark images of drug addiction and poverty; the giddiness of "Mr. Right" ("Who that man in a black sedan with two cheap hookers and a Mexican? Fuck the white line, sipping warm Coors Lite, Mickey Avalon, call me Mr. Right") bleeds into the mournful wail of "Hustler Hall of Fame."
Avalon's rhymes put together his experiences on both sides of the economic divide. "A lyric on 'Friends and Lovers' kind of sums up my whole record and the dichotomy of the record and the dichotomy of the universe and everything," said Avalon: "'The filthy rich to the dirt, dirt poor, are all the same, and they can't take no more.' So I think deep within everyone's souls, people are the same."
On "So Rich, So Pretty," Avalon sings, "I like a girl who eats and brings it up, a sassy little frassy with bulimia" with both admiration and satire.
"I'm saying I like them," Avalon explained. "I knew as I was making fun; I was indulging, and I was making fun of me, too. I wasn't on the mountain fasting, doing yoga, making fun of all the people down at the bottom in Sodom and Gomorrah; I'm there with them, too.
"I used to judge people like that, but now, I know they're just like everyone else," said Avalon. "It's easy to see all the obvious, quote-unquote, faults about being plastic and try(ing) to be this kind of perfect weird little thing, but that's their human experience, and I've had encounters with people like that, and they end up being more stand-up than people with so-called cred or anything like that. Everyone has the potential to be fucked or to do something good on the planet."
Fucked or not, Avalon sticks in it your face and swings it around, even as he's whipping out lines like "can't help but wonder that God must be one sick motherfucker."
"I think it's irresponsible to tell dark, tragic stories without bringing the humor to it--it's not very fun. ... Practically every character in the record dies," said Avalon. "It's a lot of death and stuff like that, but there is this celebratory fact: I'm alive, and I'm here, and it's nothing but a party."