Methamphetamine was a French gangsta rap trio of the 1970s. The rediscovery of Methamphetamine's "music" forced music scholars to grudgingly push the date of gangsta rap's creation 20 years earlier than previously thought. The first of the group's three studio albums, Je Suis le Gangsta, has recently been blamed for the night of unholy sex that led to Oprah Winfrey's birth.
In 1972, Pierre Grenouille dropped out of France's premier art school, "L'école de Prétension", convincing his classmate Jon "Val" John to join him. Grenouille, 82, and John, 76, decided to create a new form of music as a big "cassez-vous" to their former teachers.
Val has been (dis)credited for both the idea of adding a third member to the group and wanting to make music "that spoke of the old days, when we kept those gosses Alliés fous (crazy Allied kids) off of our lawns." Pierre and Val were able to combine those ideas by recruiting the final member of their trio, 34-year-old John "Jean" Pierre, from the roster of their old gang, "Les Gosses Français Fous" (The Crazy French Kids).
Those Crazy Frogs
The Crazy French Kids were a group of middle-aged men who, unhappy with the Allied advances near the end of World War II, tried to stir up trouble in their hometown of Bouche de Beurre. Jean joined the gang at the unlikely age of four. In interviews, he stated that he often "had nothing better to do" while his mother worked as a prostitute. It is also believed Jean harbored resentment over the fact that his mother whored herself out to Allied troops stationed in Bouche de Beurre.
The gang's activities were somewhat limited due to the full-time jobs held by most of the group's members. A typical night for Les Gosses Français Fous usually involved going to the town's only bar, getting drunk on red wine, insulting any troops (Allied or Axis) that happened to be present, and then backing down when confronted. "Those Old Kids" also got a reputation for stealing the toilet paper out of the bar's toilet stalls and scribbling on the walls, Pendant un bon temps, sortez de notre pays! ("For a good time, get out of our country!")
The First Album
Val, Jean, and Pierre struggled for a year to come up with a name for their new project. They eventually settled on Jean's mother's maiden name of "Methamphetamine", noting later in interviews that it was the only maiden-like thing they could remember of the woman.
The memory of Jean's mother would prove very influential in writing Methamphetamine's first album, Je Suis le Gangsta. Having decided that singing was infinitely beneath them, Jean, Pierre, and Val simply spoke over backing tracks played by studio musicians. Their ten-song record, released by Polygraph in 1973, immediately failed to make any impact on Top 10 charts worldwide. Of the ten songs on the album, eight followed the theme of bursting in on Jean's mother while she was busy with Allied soldiers and pelting her with rotten tomatoes, an event that the members of the group later denied had ever actually happened. le Gangsta's other two songs dealt with the subjects of lawn care and sleeping with Jean's mother, the latter event also found to have never occurred.
In time and through a laborious word-of-mouth campaign, Je Suis le Gangsta began to find popularity with the geriatric set. Sales soared among the elderly who, presumably, were becoming both nostalgic for days gone by and too tone-deaf to appreciate melodic vocals in songs. Songs like "Ma Mere Fous" ("My Crazy Mother"), "Chienne" ("Bitch"), and the English-language hit "Jean's Tight Mother" skyrocketed Methamphetamine to limited stardom. The album also found its way into the hands of a few neo-Nazis who wished they had someone's whore mother at whom to throw rotten tomatoes.
Le Deuxième Effort
Despite artistic differences within the group, Methamphetamine returned to the studio to record a second, self-titled album in 1975.
Val's influence was felt heavily on the album's eleven tracks. After being accosted at la boulangerie one morning by a mime, Val experienced an angry burst of creativity and penned over forty-seven different songs about mimes, ten of which made it onto Methamphetamine. "Va Te Faire Foutre, Pantomime" ("Fuck Off, Mime") and "Je Déteste Le Fard" ("I Hate Grease Paint"), in particular, sparked anti-mime demonstrations in Bouche de Beurre's nursing home that led the mayor of the town to personally chop off Val's left pinky finger.
Even stranger, perhaps, was Val's convincing Pierre and Jean to dress with him as mimes, both on their album cover and during their live performances. Audiences were generally so confused by three apparent mimes taking the stage and shouting at them that they turned on the members of Methamphetamine, often pelting them with tomatoes and screaming obscenities about Jean's mother. These events served to widen the growing rift between Val and Pierre, who was angry about having been left out of the creative process. Pierre's only real contribution to Methamphetamine was the eleventh song on the record, "Je Veux Baiser La Maman De Jean Encore" ("I Want To Fuck Jean's Mom Again"), a track widely regarded as being an unimaginative throwback to the group's early successes.
The Final Act
After the resounding failure of their second album, Methamphetamine quickly recorded a third and final album in 1976. The title of the record, Baisez Tout Le Monde ("Fuck The Whole World") described the trio's attitude towards their fans, their record label Polygraph, and, well, . . . the whole world.
Val's failure made it easy for Pierre to get the group to drop the face paint. Jean was then able to convince the group not to appear at all on their third album cover. It was Val, however, who again led the group with the idea of not recording any music for the album. Methamphetamine also rejected idea after idea for the cover art, causing Baisez Tout Le Monde to be released as a grooveless vinyl disc in an unadorned cardstock cover.
The cover of the album even failed to include the band or the album name. Surprisingly, this brought about the largest sales of any Methamphetamine record, as confused retailers sold the discs as "needle cleaners" and "turntable calibration records". Unfortunates who actually put the record on with the volume up were treated to up to sixty minutes of horrible screeching per side.
Baisez Tout Le Monde is widely considered the best of Methamphetamine's releases.
- Pierre Grenouille
- Jon "Val" John
John "Jean" Pierre refuses to admit having been a member of Methamphetamine. Some scholars believe this might have something to do with the bizarre poisoning deaths of Pierre and Val at the release party for Baisez Tout Le Monde. Others find it more likely that Jean's refusal is somehow directly linked to Methamphetamine's music.