In the face of ongoing gentrification, Brooklyn-based act Biohazard is now forced to qualify ongoing lyrical references to their formerly notorious hometown.
“There was a time when you could just say ‘Brooklyn!’ to invoke being a hard-ass that won’t take crap from anybody,” sighed guitarist Billy Graziadei, “but now we gotta be extra clear on which parts we’re talking about, or we’ll look like a bunch of jackasses.”
Indeed, many districts in Brooklyn have become renowned for housing some of the largest enclaves of hipsters and upwardly mobile urban youth in all of North America. The band’s depictions of blight and violence have been replaced by a proliferation of coffee bars and Urban Outfitters storefronts in areas that were previously fertile ground for Biohazard’s videos, album covers, and lyrics.
“We have a new song called ‘Back on the Streets (not Williamsburg)’, that talks about life in Brooklyn, specifically the eastern side heading towards Ozone Park,” said Graziadei, shaking his head. “It’s still pretty brutal over there, though nobody knows it because they’re shopping at their stupid thrift stores in Brooklyn Heights. We also have a scary one called ‘A Day in Bushwick’, because you know that area is still pretty hairy. Then again, I hear they recently got an American Apparel outlet. Oh my God, we’re so screwed!”
Indeed, the once-fearsome foursome from the wrong side of the tracks now finds their lyrics completely hampered with overly-specific descriptions and disclaimers of their previously forsaken borough.
I’m on the run/and I need a new gun
Talkin’ about Brooklyn – no, the other one
When you’re s— outta luck/and you don’t give a f—
And that don’t include the parts that got a Starbucks
With all the upswing of commerce and rising property values, it seems that Biohazard are among the few Brooknites who are suffering. Whenever the band plays classics like “Urban Discipline” or “Tales from the Hardside”, their harrowing portrayals of Brooklyn is often met with incredulous laughter from those who were too young to remember when the entire area was an urban death maze.
Graziadei continued, “We get people coming up to us going, ‘Are the hipsters really that dangerous?’ or ‘I guess you guys have seen some serious s— go down in those fair-trade coffee shops’. Jesus Christ.”
Ultimately, it may be the end of the line for bands that trade off the bad reputation of their hometowns. Crime rates have lowered across the nation, and city centers are being reclaimed by upwardly mobile young people and large developers.
“The entire north side is undergoing a tree-planting project,” exclaimed the increasingly agitated guitarist. “Trees! In Brooklyn? Used the be the only planting we did was putting bodies in the ground, you know what I’m saying? I can’t write about urban renewal!”
At press time, the band has announced plans to relocate to the Bronx.