The Newly Minted

By G. Beato

(Note: This article originally appeared in SPIN in slightly different form.)

In the middle of a European tour a couple years ago, Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst was so broke he made a deal with the better capitalized members of tour headliners Korn. For $500, he played an entire show naked. These days, with a video in heavy rotation on MTV and an album, Three Dollar Bill, Yall$, that has spent almost a year in the Billboard Top 200, such explicit fund-raising techniques are no longer necessary: as the ascendent rockstar of the moment, no one makes him pay for anything.

"Finally, I've got money in the bank, and I'm getting more free stuff than I've ever gotten in my life," says Durst, who recently moved from Jacksonville, Florida, to Beverly Hills, where the free stuff, when you're flavor-of-the-month, flows in luxurious abundance. "It's so good to be a rockstar, dude. People notice you wherever you go, you get into clubs, you get into restaurants dressed like crap when you're supposed to have a suit on."

To see exactly what kind of deep discounts on vintage "Theater of Pain" t-shirts Durst currently rates, SPIN has suggested a photo shoot at Motley Crue's new Melrose Avenue boutique, S'Crue. But Durst, who's been collaborating recently with Crue drummer Tommy Lee on a hip-hop album the latter is recording in his home studio, has a more ambitious itinerary in mind: first, a visit to Lee's place, and then, as a follow-up, a trip to the Playboy Mansion with expert L.A. booty sherpa "Totally" Pauly Shore.

"Saturday's my day to go bug everybody," Durst jokes. "I always call people up then because Saturday's when they're cooking good food."

Who knows? Maybe Hugh Hefner will be whipping up some homemade Viagra chili.

2:05 p.m.
Record company publicist plus guest? Check. Photographer plus guest? Check. Writer? Check. The crew which will document Durst's celebrity-enhanced roundabout has assembled at his current residence, a three-story cube of a house with so many efficiently aesthetic planes and angles it looks like a very fashionable geometry problem. As the crew waits for Durst to arrive, Jordan Schur, president of Limp Bizkit's label, Flip Records, describes the band's early promise: "The first time I saw them, I was like, 'Whoever gets this band is gonna hit with it--this is just unfuckupable!'"

2:25 p.m.
Durst reports in via cellphone: there's been a change of plans. Jimmy Iovine, co-owner of Interscope Records (which distributes Limp Bizkit's record), is bringing Eminem, a young rapper from Detroit, to the studio where Limp Bizkit is currently recording. Eminem has an album coming out on an Interscope-distributed label too, Dr. Dre's Aftermath, which means there are artistic and commercial synergies to explore. In other words, no Tommy, no Pauly, no 95% silicone-free party favors whose turn-ons include jacuzzi tantra and heavily tattooed rockstars.

3:00 p.m.
The studio is vaguely subterranean and peopled with minimally expressive rock-dude types of various and indeterminate function. Durst has accessorized the recording room with a dozen scented candles and a string of tiny white Christmas lights to give it that special romantic ambiance so crucial for inspiring lyrics like "And you would think I'd be moving on/But I'm a sucker like I said, fucked up in the head--not!"

As Durst adds vocals to the track, two of Durst's friends, one of whom is a semi-famous, semi-ambivalent teen heartthrob who requested anonymity for reasons of impending cross-media credibility, sit on couches watching him.

"Two more lines and I'm gonna be there!" Durst shouts as the music fades out. "You guys want to help with some lyrics? It's about this girl who put me through the ringer--she slept with my friends!" He slams his fist down on one of the couches, angry but also oddly exuberant. And why not? This woman has been his most consistent muse so far. Her duplicitous ways inspired several songs on Three Dollar Bills, Yall$, and apparently, neither time nor success has healed the wounds she inflicted.

"I'm, like, practicing celibacy," he reveals, which seems somewhat hard to swallow - but maybe he has a Clintonian definition of sex. In any case, his romantic idealism remains intact, despite his love troubles "I want to get married, man," he declares at one point. "I want to share this with somebody. I'm fully experiencing the best things of my life, and I've been single for the last year and a half."

3:50 p.m.
Eminem arrives. He and Durst sit in the recording room making industry-related small talk:

Durst: "Yeah, Tommy Lee's breaking off some phat crazy shit at his house.

Eminem (incredulously): "What?"

Durst: "He's doing hip-hop beats."

Eminem (even more incredulously): "Tommy Lee?"

As Durst and Eminem talk about growing up as token Caucasians immersed in a hip-hop world that had yet to cross over, Eminem, an inner-city welfare kid from Detroit, seems genuinely surprised to find another white guy who has lived a similar experience.

"I was just this little 14-year old kid, rapping at talent shows in these black clubs," Durst says, recalling his incipient rap days in the mid-'80s. "I was wearing Kangol hats, bandannas around the leg."

"I was Troop down," Eminem replies. "Yo, your fucking story is so much like mine…"

Soon, he's telling Durst about a song he'd like to build around the chorus from the old Madness paean to family values, "Our House."

"Yeah, that sounds dope," Durst agrees. It fits in perfectly with his ambition to "do what Puff Daddy does--take an old song and make a gigantic smash out of it."

5:15 p.m.
Durst and Eminem have decided to start working on their collaboration right away, but first they need the Madness record to sample. The mall is only a couple blocks away, but this is LA, so the two rappers and a couple friends pile into Durst's black Mercedez C-280 for a trip to the Wherehouse.

On the car's stereo: a remix of Limp Bizkit's hit remake of George Michael's "Faith." Durst croons along happily as he drives. When he pulls up at a stoplight, he blows a kiss to a grayhaired matron idling next to him in a maroon Jaguar, and she blows him one right back.

"Damn," says Eminem. "I think she wants you."

At the mall, they valet-park the Mercedez then make an A & R guy from Interscope stand in line to buy the Madness album for them. No one seems to recognize the everymannish Durst as the lead singer of the band with the #24 record in America, but he and Eminem, two white guys talking with broad, flat hip-hop inflections still manage to provoke a few curious glances.

6:30 p.m.
As Eminem plots out his lyrics for the song in his rhyme book, Limp Bizkit's DJ Lethal methodically creates a simple rhythm track for him to rap over.

Durst talks about Limp Bizkit's new album, untitled as of yet but expected to come out this summer. "I watched our fans during all our live shows over the last two years," he says. "Whatever they reacted to most, that's what I took and put into these new songs. It's gonna be insane."

7:40 p.m.
The semi-famous heartthrob and a couple other friends show up again, en route to watch the Mike Tyson-Francois Botha fight at Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell's house. Which is a somewhat improbable destination, perhaps--why would Durst and his alt.idol pal want to watch two heavyweights slug it out with a couple of aging movie stars?

Of course, fresh young movie stars, including Hawn's 18-year-old daughter, Kate Hudson, are likely to be there too, although now we've moved into the realm of pure speculation because the exact details of the event are conferred furtively to Durst.

"So what the dealio?" Durst inquires. "You headed now?"

"Whenever you," comes the reply.

"Look at me though," Durst says, pointing to his plain down jacket and baggy green pants. Is he sporting enough rockstar finery to bum-rush Kurt and Goldie's pay-per-view boxing soiree?

"It's all good," one of his friends insists.

"All right," Durst says, deciding to go with them. "I'm gonna just duck out for an hour or so to watch the fight," he tells Eminem.

"That's cool," Eminem replies. "I'm gonna start making this shit, throw some rhymes down."

And, thus, while Durst and his friends head off into the night, Eminem, who hasn't yet reached that level of stardom where he can just waltz into Goldie Hawn's private party, returns to the recording room. As he starts piecing together a funny rap about a kid arguing with his mom over the correct pronunciation of Tupac Shakur's name, it's quickly clear that Eminem's talent is, as Jordan Schur might put it, unfuckupable. The next time Mike Tyson fights, he'll probably be watching it with movie stars, too.

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