I Against I is the third studio album by the American rock band Bad Brains. It was released on November 21, 1986 through SST Records with the catalog number SST 065. The best-selling album in the band's catalog, I Against I finds the band branching out from their early hardcore punk style to touch on funk, soul, reggae and heavy metal. It is also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. The title track was a Paul Rachman-directed video (Rachman would go on to direct the documentary film American Hardcore). The title I Against I presumably refers to the common Rastafarian phrase I and I, which is used in place of the first-person plural (i.e. we) to signify the union of the speaker, audience, and Jah (God) in love and peace. At the producer's suggestion, the vocals to "Sacred Love" were recorded over the phone from the prison where H.R. was serving time on a marijuana distribution charge.Wikipedia
I Love. Bad Brains. Any hardcore kid worth his camo shorts (and I'd like to think I am) knows that what The Ramones were to punk, Bad Brains were to hardcore, a reignition (like their song, heh) of a genre that had grown bloated and moribund with mainstream exposure. Before they were getting banned in DC (also a song title, check it out) for their unrelenting, thrashy brand hardcore punk, Bad Brains were honing their musical craft as a band that played metal, funk and rhythm & blues. This is displayed in songs like House Of Suffering with its blistering drum flourishes and succinct guitar solo, something that was unheard of in punk, but that the Bad Brains harnessed with attitude and vitriol befitting the grittiest gutter punks. Individual virtuosity aside, what made the Bad Brains, and this work in particular, so iconic to this writer was their ability to be go from hard-driving, to groovy, to downright menacing all within a single album. This is a feat that would be commendable for any rock band, let alone one in a scene where bands are hardly known for musical range or diversity. Straight up classic. 5 stars, my guy.
One of the most important hardcore punk records from one of the most important hardcore punk bands. There’s reggae, punk, rock, metal and all kinds of genres on this. I think I like Banned in DC better but this is a great listen. Favorite track: I Against I Least favorite track: Return to Heaven
An interesting album to be sure. The music is a combination of hardcore punk (which Bad Brains did not like to be called), reggae, and metal. Some songs also have a new wave tinge. The music itself features strong reggae inspired bass lines with guitar work that is slightly phased (in typical eighties fashion) that ranges from more punk inspired rhythms to virtuosic leads that sound more inspired by contemporary metal. The vocal delivery is similarly nuanced and ranges from growled phrases to a more straightforward delivery. Despite the range of influences and styles, this album is coherent and unique.
This album shocked me, I wasn't prepared for this level of melodicism from a Bad Brains album. The Bad Brains I know are loud and abrasive, without subtlety. I am glad to find this side of this legendary band. 4 stars
Schizophrenic riffs, tunes and vocals to start, which I took for a distraction technique, i.e. they don't really have a sound. Then I noticed both the tempo and the changeability hadn't let up by track 4 and realised that is sound. Liked it a lot better at that point. But then it turned to borderline metal sludge in the second half. So I'll hedge.
beautiful album i wasn't expecting. really showing my knowledge of punk here.
Like living in a kick drum. Pure energy.
Yes, yes, yes. This is the way. Hardcore built on reggae grooves, vocals doing backflips, sparkling solos flying out of all the chug. It has it all. If you weren’t bouncing along to “She’s Calling You” do you even have a soul? Here is a band in total control of rhythm, dynamics and melody and using it to funnel their anger (and sense of a good time - remember “Edification first, then we can have some fun”) at a society falling apart around them. Show good taste: enjoy Bad Brains.
I Against I is not what I was expecting upon looking at the album cover. I was expecting some reggae/hip-hop - guess it shows that you don't judge a book by it's cover! This was a cool listen to some mid 80s punk/ska of which I have never heard of the band. Best: Hired Gun Worst: Sacred Love 3.5 Stars
I generally cut punk albums a lot of slack. Pretty music isn't the point, right? But, dang. This album is a royal mess. It makes no sense, the production is trash, the songs are poorly written and poorly performed ... it's just not good. It's not good punk, it's not good hardcore, it's not good rock. It's just not very good.
Really enjoyed this album.
Very good stuff! Gonna be giving it a second pass, and probably picking a couple tracks out to put into regular listening rotation. What can I say, I like what I like.
this is a classic album that i'm betting gets low scores globally. but i fucking love it - they were unlike anything else happening at the time, and holy shit, were they something. i got to see them at the channel in boston, back in the early 90s!
Love it. The way I found out about the book. Also, learned what I against I means.
Geil, hätte mir früher richtig gut gefallen, gefällt mir auch heute noch richtig gut.
There is no socially appropriate time of the day to play Punk on speakers. That's what I believe, and so to solidity it I played this album at three different times of the day. My family rates this 2/5 and that makes me wonder where did it go wrong. I am a little ashamed as a big punk fan (for status and for the music) that I never heard of Bad Brains ever before. This album tears me apart because songs like Sacred Love and Secret 77 are perhaps some of my favourite songs yet I'm not sure if this deserves a 5/5. The album was an experience start to finish and it was extremely fun to listen to, speakers or earphones. Maybe Bad Brains has more consistency otherwise, like in their self titled as I've been told, but as my first bad brains album I will give this a 5/5. I don't care. 5/5
literally so good all the way through i loved every single TRACK dude
I had a blast listening to this one !!! It was super fun and wow I want to learn how to play guitar super badly. The song titles made me curious about the songs and I knew I would like all of them !!
Pretty cool punk album. Interesting reggae twist. No complaints here
Rock and Roll!
ALL KILLER NO FILLER!! A singularly powerful album - retains the great intensity even when it slows down.
Wow! Raw and aggressive, in the way I kinda like it. Much better than I expected.
First of a rant: the reason why I went to the Amnesia Rockfest in Montebello, Québec, back in 2013, was because that edition of the festival featured the most incredible hardcore lineup ever, including, among other big names, Discharge, Cro-Mags, and Bad Brains, three bands I absolutely wanted to witness on stage, and three bands who cancelled at the last minute; Discharge and Cro-Mags, who were indeed touring together, got blocked at the frontier, while, if I remember correctly, Bad Brains singer H.R. got severely ill of his throat. Well, I guess I was much less lucky than people going to that piss pool of a festival to see The Offspring or Marilyn Manson, damn it! (Hey, at least I saw Alice Cooper! I even cried then!) I read somewhere, some years ago, that when I Against I was released every hardcore/metal/punk venue played the song Re-Ignition before shows, with the whole audience going "Whaaaaaa?" every single time as a consequence. It wasn't the first time Bad Brains got us all going "Whaaaaaa?". From the start Bad Brains was an all black band playing hardcore, a genre predominantly, if not exclusively up to that point, white . And the audience went "Whaaaaaa?" (Racetraitor was a hardcore band who were utterly outspoken about white supremacy and white privilege decades before our modern social scientists started even mentioning those topics. By their confrontational approach, they used to call "crackers" the kids in their audience. "Racetraitor" and "crackers" are both white supremacist terms, reconfigured within the context of their thought provoking stance. It didn't go down well. The band earned an awful backlash from all the social and political sides involved, and their credibility as artists and individuals was severely questioned. - Straight Edge was a lifestyle that promoted a no alcohol, no cigarettes, no meat, no drugs, no promiscuous sex, no coffee, and no pharmacological drugs way of life. Straight Edge was also one of the most violent forms of hardcore punk music around. - Racetraitor ideologist and leader said recently: "We’ve had one time that turned into a physical fight. In the end, everybody was kind of forced to talk about what we wanted them to talk about. They just couldn’t ignore us." - The band would soon break up, one of the members would become a lawyer and work in the international human rights, another one would join pop-punk band Fall Out Boy. - This is the world in which we were growing up) Bad Brains was also a band of very technically skilled musicians who had all studied jazz. And the audience went "Whaaaaaa?" Social justice was a key factor discussed in the hardcore subculture, and so were the Bad Brains, but they were also concerned as much with spiritual issues, promoting the "Positive Mental Attitude"; they also practised the rastafarian faith and played reggae. And the audience went "Whaaaaaa?" Ric Ocasek was an early fan of the group and he went on to produce their second album, a few years before I Against I was recorded. And the audience. Yes, you got it. The crucial point of this album is that, up to this point, and also in all of their subsequent releases, hardcore and reggae where two different styles that were never really meshed together, probably in the intent of keeping intact the sacred, spiritual nature of the genre. A groovy as hell record, I Against I showcases a real battle of Bad Brains against themselves. All of their influences, from jazz to punk, to reggae, soul, funk, and anything else come together in a streamlined, flawless, smooth even, beast of crossover never heard before nor since. All of these ingredients are integral part of the songs in a way that is impossible to discern, dissect, or separate, as if everything was actually processed through a blender in an irreparable manner. Like life itself, like death itself. Like the remnants of a battlefield served on a plate. I rest my case. PS: If you haven't watched the documentary Afro-Punk, I suggest you do as soon as you get a chance. Peace out.
Was always aware of bad brains because of everyone having a sticker or a shirt. I can see why.
Much more metal than I was expecting, but that punk ethos runs deep. Honestly, what's more punk than delivering your vocals over the phone from a jail cell? These guys are it, always have been, always will be.
Thank you, album generator, for forcing me to finally fix a gaping hole in my musical education. I've been meaning to check out Bad Brains for ages, especially since I moved to the DC area 14 years ago, but somehow have never to my knowledge heard a single song. And either I waited way too long to check out something so terrific, or the wait helped me to appreciate it all the more. "I Against I" is their third album, and apparently marked a bit of a shift and evolving of their sound, away from their hardcore punk roots. In trying to digest this album, and figure out what I think of Bad Brains, I listened to it 3+ times. (The second because a raucous carpool of 6th graders made the first hard to hear, and the third and other snippets because I increasingly realized that I loved it and wanted more.) At first I wasn't sure what to think of H.R.'s vocals. They were all over the place. And while there were some times where it seemed like he needed to reign it in a bit or stick to one style, the more I listened the more I realized there were multiple voices(?) I liked and most made up for the bits I didn't like. The guitars and the drums, though, I loved from the start. I was initially surprised, as I was expecting more of a punk sound from what I knew of the band. So the heavy metal and other influences took me on a ride that kept me on my toes. It certainly wasn't all perfect, but it grew and grew on me. I checked out their self-titled debut, and there was the hardcore punk I had been expecting. I liked it, but not as much as "I Against I." I waffled back and forth between 4 and 5 stars for quite a while. When it comes down to it, I think its a 4-star album. But a combination of the pleasant surprise, the missing piece, the breadth of influence, the passion and the joy, and finally, the comparison to other new-to-me 4s finally sealed the deal.
Flawless. I love Bad Brains, but I return to this album much more than any other. This album takes in so much timely influence and then spits out much more. H.R. delivers vocally. The confluence of hardcore with funk is perfectly executed. Just superb.
This album is so tight that it made me pass out.
had heard of bad brains before but never heard any of their music, i am immediately a huge fan, funk, punk & reggae is right up my alley
Sometimes I forget how great this band is
Can’t believe I’ve never heard of these guys! Really cool blend of thrash, punk, alt rock, and funk. I can really see how these guys must have been huge influences on 90s bands.
Surprisingly good. I really liked it and will probably have to check out their other stuff sometime soon
Only ever listened to "Pay to Cum", so it's fun listening to this because I can hear how it influenced other bands I like (Faith No More and Deftones, for sure). It's extremely unique, with some crazy vocals. I'm not a huge reggae guy, but I love the little splashes thrown on this record. Favorite tracks: "Secret 77", "Re-Ignition"
Good but not essential bad brains.
Bängeri! Kovaa punkkia från 80-talet
Singular, muscular, badass
Me ha costado mucho entrar en su estilo, pero debo decir que es un disco muy bueno
Jams. Front to back jams.
Never really listened to them but really enjoyed this
Angrier, punkier, funkier TV on the Radio. Out of left field album - really impressive, but not sure if I would listen often.
it was awesome
What a surprise from 1986. I thought this record was fun, and had some punk and solos to it.
I feel like every band I ever saw at Warped Tour could trace their lineage back to this album. Very influential! I especially love the gang vocals and guitar riffs throughout.
So much to like, such genre-crossing strength. Prodigious punk, hints of reggaeton, early alt-rock, uncaged aggression.
Punk with face-melting, virtuosic heavy-metal guitar. I'm very into the vibe---with just 4 parts (drums, bass, 1 guitar, vocal, for most tracks I think) the mix is great. Lots of fast tracks, but track 4 e.g. is really groovy and catchy. Kind of a reggae groove to track 5---interesting change of pace and not *too* out of place. Track 7 has a very 80s vibe (think the Police plus hair rock). Track 9 is great, sounds a bit like a punkier Rush. I like the eclectic influences---I'd say the band is at its best when it sounds less like Van Halen, which fortunately is most of the time.
Dig this, punk meets dub
Not as hardcore as we thought back in the day but still decent
Incredibly influential and groundbreaking. The instrumentation and lyrics are great and catchy. I'm not too versed on the history of pop punk vocals, but I feel like this is a good place to start. Highlights: 2, 3, 4, and 7.
- feels strongly influential. Sepultura / ska / metalcore - innovative and diverse, thoughtful
August 9, 2021 (Aug 18) This was pretty good but I'm not a fan of the vocals.
This really grew on me. I'll give it a low 4, I think. It was a 3 until late last night.
4.3 - They've clearly earned their reputation for being amazing musicians - Bad Brains is head and shoulders above peer bands. The fact that Black Flag and other lesser bands get more accolades to me stinks of racism. Great to hear black rockers that put Washington, DC on the map.
Rating: 8/10 Best songs: House of sufferig, Re-ignition, Sacred love, Hired gun
A hardcore skeleton with all kinds of neat things hanging from the bones. I was unsure about everything but the energy in the first half; The second side brings that and a bunch of other musicianship as well.
all over the shop & all the better for it
Like a weird buffet of your favourite foods stuck on your plate in odd combinations. Rock, punk, rap, funk, metal, and a bit of leftover late 70's/early 80's sneaking in now and again. I enjoyed this more than I expected to.
Already familiar with this brilliant album. Very pleased to know this is rated.
Feels very similar to a lot of albums on here, probably cuz there's a lot of punk rock. Nice to know though.
Leuke metal/punk. En TIL dat deze band aan de wieg stond van de Hardcore scene
The last time I listened to these guys I found nothing to interest me. That was in 1985. This time they sound great!
This may be the best Bad Brain release. Not quite the hardcore punk of their debut, they still played faster and more proficient than their punk forbearers. I remember travelling down to DC to see them and was blown away - especially by H.R.'s singing . While Dr. Know's guitar doesn't work for me as much when he stretches out as much as he does on this release, and it may be more metal than punk, but it is still damn good. I have to wonder if they would have received more mainstream play if they were a white punk band.
Ja, Bad Brains vind ik goed. Ik ben erg benieuwd naar het album Bad Brains van Bad Brains, misschien is dat nog wel beter.
Bad Brains is too cool - hardcore, metal, funk? This is probably not my favorite album, but lots of respect for the band's innovations. 3.5 and rounding up.
This was really quirky rap/rock/metal. 4/5
Ugh. Growing up two hours south of DC I heard about BB all the time and specifically the antics of the lead singer H.R. But I could never listen to them all the way through. Maybe I didn't try hard enough, or maybe this just isn't as hard as it once was because I made it all the way through and to my surprise, it's listenable. I suppose Bad Brains broke the stereotype of black musicians being permanently tied to soul, jazz, reggae or rap and probably influenced one of my favorite bands of the late 80's / early 90's Living Colour and Ice-T's Body Count among others. Happy to have rediscovered this with fresh ears. https://www.presspop.toys/products/4560247870461
It's weird having this as the only Bad Brains album on the 1001 list, however it's still solid and quite underrated by most Bad Brains fans.
Pretty solid hardcore! It's fun listening to records like this and noticing how it's sounds matriculated into other, more mainstream albums I've heard.
Excellent hardcore punk, though it's clear it is a product of the mid 80s. I've always loved tracks 2, 3, 4 and 7 from the first listen however I think I may prefer the first two albums which include the odd dubby reggae number and where the production is more energetic and raw on the punk tracks. (4.0)
Great early hardcore punk!
A classic foundational album for so much of the music that I love. Standouts: I Against I, House of Suffering, Re-Ignition, Let Me Help, Sacred Love, Return To Heaven
Probably the first Bad Brains I listened to. Regrettably I didn't properly get into the band until my mid-30s. I wish 13 year old me had better taste and better access to music. I had forgotten how melodic and almost metal this album was. Almost Misfits in places too. Worlds apart from their first album but listening to that straight after I Against I makes me appreciate how much they had grown in their sound
Not what I was expecting at all. seems a complete fusion of so many genres it doesn't really matter what it's listed at.
Well, I've never heard of these guys before. I guess what they're doing sounds more 90s than 80s so I can imagine that they're that influential type that nobody outside of the music industry has ever heard of, but apparently inspired everyone else to make music that is both good and popular. Nothing wrong with this album - it's not too long, not to short. And does sound ahead of its time.
This needs another couple of listens… sounds like there’s a good album in there!
Definitely a cool sound and something I could see myself returning to. It was a little repetitive, so i'm gonna give it 3.5 with the caveat that my score could very well increase upon future listens.
Really competent musicianship gave me an album I did not expect. Felt newer than when it was made.
Pretty polished based on what I knew of the band before
Very interesting mashup of punk, 80s hair metal, and pop. Secret 77 is kinda Duran Duran-y? Had no idea there was a seminal black punk band! 2.5 rounded up
Not my kind of music.
Ummm pretty cool I guess?
Definitely high energy, angry, loud and really solid record. The last two songs peter out and end up holding it back from a 4.
Love Bad Brains, not my favorite record of theirs though.
cool album some good songs
Rock. Potente. Interesante.
“I Against I” by Bad Brains (1986) Hard driving punk rock setting for Rastafarian edification, this album is extraordinarily interesting. Very good musical performances of compositions that are melodically spare and sometimes repetitive. Lead vocals by “H.R.” have an exquisite variety of textures, with powerful vibrato that sometimes becomes an instrument on its own. Excellent recording of drums, with a lot of depth and separation. Fine power chord electric guitar work by Dr. Know, featuring a wide range of effects and competent solos. Songs, however, lack a groove, reducing their popular appeal, and thus requiring concentration, but this can be a plus for serious listeners. Lyrics are thoughtful and surprisingly compassionate and uplifting, if the listener is willing to enter into Rastafarian spirituality. This is a good album, well worth a listen if one has the time. 3/5
kind of a hybrid album: a mix of both 80s and 90s meme vocal styles and guitar riffs. not sure if there's more here than just a passing sideshow attraction, but not bad
I Against I was for Bad Brains what London Calling was for the Clash -- the band's first fully mature work, one which successfully brought together all of its diverse influences while at the same time showcasing a singular vision. Also like London Calling, it was to be the band's masterpiece, in the original sense of that term -- a creative pinnacle which they would not reach again...this is music-making of an order not usually seen in rock & roll.
Noisy punk rock.
cool mix of reggae and rock. best songs: re-ignition & secret 77. 3/5
I actually listened to this for the first time a few weeks ago! Looking forward to revisiting it. UPDATE: Okay I like Bad Brains, but sometimes the vocals have zero power behind them and just feel a little weak. But the guy has power, just weird where he chooses to reel it in. UPDATE: "Re-Ignition" is the perfect example of this vocal thing. The drums are driving, the guitars chunky, yet the vocals are half whispered and just don't bring the same vibe as the instrumentals.
Pretty alright. I don’t find it amazing, just okay.
fun energy, and sounds ahead of its time. not sure I'll dig into their other discography, but glad I've heard about them now
This was a fun mix of hardcore with plenty of other genres like reggae and classic heavy metal. While I prefer their self titled release (cause I'm a hardcore punk simp) this was an interesting experience. Somewhere between a 3-4 can't tell so rounding down
Pleasant surprise. I thought it was gonna be a full metal album after the first minute but was nothing of the sort. Have connections I never knew to Re-Ignition! What a jam.
Not too shabby.