Fred Durst was the Kanye West of his day. Not to say he was as talented. But at the height of Limp Bizkit's fame -- and make no mistake, this was hundreds of millions of dollars of fame -- he was the same type of beloved villain.
He succeed in that era's popular music despite being (and also because he was) an unhinged asshole. If there was a Twitter in 1999, Durst would've been the king of it. Let's pause to remember his bon mot for critics of his homophobia: "You like apples, I like oranges. You like hairy buttholes and I don't." And he capitalized on a tossed-off Eminem punchline to insist he really did get with from Christina Aguilera.
Like Kanye, Durst never fucked up to an extraordinary degree. His tiresome sameness just reached a breaking point. People tire of acrid public personas; just ask Eminem, who preemptively changed tack for last year's safety-valved "comeback" Recovery.
But it's a shame that Durst's dominance over this band has irreparably distorted history, because Limp Bizkit was hardly the worst nu-metal had to offer. In fact, you could even say they were good. I certainly find them to be.
In 1999, Rolling Stone wrote of their multi-multi-platinum smash Significant Other: "At this point, hating them seems a little disingenuous. They're actually (gulp) good." Listening to Other today, it's shocking how grooving and un-turgid it is. Unlike most drummers at the time, John Otto knew his way around "Funky Drummer" better than a double-kick setup, as you can hear in the funky interludes between songs like "I'm Broke." His pinging piccolo snare sound makes even their chunkiest riffs fleet-of-foot; witness the lightly drumrolled verses of "Trust?"