Within a few pages, Jude Angelini lets you know exactly where Hyena is headed.
As the host of The All Out Show on Eminem's Shade 45 Sirius station, Angelini doesn't hold back, and in his debut book—a memoir detailing his rise from Detroit loser to Jenny Jones Show regular to drug-taking, porn-star-banging, surprisingly thoughtful L.A. shock jock—he doesn't skimp on gory details.
Hyena is filled with sharp, economical prose, and Angelini moves like a hardboiled crime writer through a series of non-chronological vignettes involving dwarves, one-armed strippers, gang members, drug dealers, hoity-toity liberal elites, and just about every illicit substance under the sun. There's also some touching stuff about Jude's early years, when he was just a poor kid from a screwed-up family trying to talk to girls.
In an email interview with NYLON Guys, the man known as "Rude Jude" talked about why he wrote Hyena, what he left out, and how the book left him feeling a little burned out, like any good autobiography should.
What'd you hope to accomplish with this book? Obviously, these are fantastic stories, but were you looking to get stuff off your chest? Is there a cathartic element to writing about your misadventures? Maybe an element of bragging? The people who dissed you in high school haven't led lives as colorful as yours.
I wanted to reach a new audience of people who read while not alienating my core audience of working class dudes who've never bought a book.
I know how I'm viewed. I'm a shock jock who came from trash TV. I'm not formally educated. I'm a womanizer. I'm a wigger to some. I want to be viewed as something more than that. I'd like to be respected, and people respect writers.
As far as the bragging goes, I'm not some douchey lawyer lying on his dick. What happened happened. Looking back, I'm neither proud nor ashamed. I'm not telling you about all the times I beat the pussy up; I'm telling you about when my dick didn't get hard. Sometimes comedy and tragedy are the same thing. It's just how you tell the story.
Hyena started as a blog, and many of the stories on there were boastful. It wasn't till I took the blog down, stopped writing for other people, and really started writing for myself that I was able to be a bit more vulnerable and more honest with myself. Perhaps when I was having these escapades I was doing it for validation or a conquest or a connection or a nut.I discovered that while writing. It was cathartic. There's a few stories in there that brought me to tears as I wrote them.
Has there been any blowback from people you mention in the book?
There are only two women who I ever loved in this world, I don't talk to either one of them and that hurts.
Was there anything you almost held back? You talk about mistakenly sleeping with dwarfs, getting lap dances from one-armed goth chicks, and doing freaky stuff with chicks while taking just about every drug imaginable, so clearly, you're not shy...
There's shit I don't talk about because it's redundant, like I'm already talking about banging chicks with vegetables—why would I bring up fisting a chick, too? It's basically the same story. I don't talk about my 20s because they don't pertain to this book. And there's a lot of dark shit that happened in my family that I didn't discuss either. It may have painted a more vivid picture of my background, but it's not my business to tell.
Is there a drug you'd never do again?
I'm done with PCP, weed and Ketamine. Even after the book was written, I kept going hard on the K. I was snorting a gram a night and watching my mental faculties take a hit. I couldn't organize my thoughts, remember shit. I was always cloudy; I felt like I was losing a step. But night after night, I just kept going. I had written on a note pad my final wishes, what I wanted to happen with the book because I didn't know if that next gram was gonna turn me into a retard. And then I'd snort that K and listen to the Beach Boys...
Of all the crazy adventures in the book, which do you regret most?
I don't regret any of them. That's an awful way to live. Regret is for people with time machines. I don't have one of those. You do what you do and you live with it. Like my man Jimmy Mac says, "You gotta take your beating like a man."
You mention R. Crumb a couple of times. Are there other artists/writers that inspired you to write this book?
Man, I can go on for days. The structure was inspired by classic albums, Fleetwood Mac's Rumors, the Beatles' Abbey Road, Scarface's The Diary. I wrote a gang of short stories, but I wanted there to be some semblance. I wanted one story to go into the next like the songs do. So I studied these albums and tried to mimic their flow... And by study, I mean do a shit load of Ketamine and listen to them on repeat.
The writing? Elmore Leonard, Roald Dahl, and Russian lit.
I only read one Russian book. My little sister got it for me, but what struck me was the matter-of-factness of the writing. They'll kill off a main character and be like, "And she stabbed him to death, and went and had a sandwich."
I love Elmore Leonard. He's a Detroit dude, too. He wrote Westerns early on in his career, then went on to write shit like Get Shorty. He's got this cinematic style and this punchy dialogue that's really engaging. Although our stories are nothing alike, I kept him in mind when writing.
I have a book of Roald Dahl shorts that I love. He writes this one about these neighbors who wife swap. One guy fucks the other guy's wife better than him, and the wife's telling him about it, and he's sick as hell to hear it. He looks out the kitchen window to see the dude who fucked the shit out of his wife getting the paper, and Dahl ends it like this: "and when he reached the front steps of his porch, he ran up them two at a time."
And I'm like, "God damn. Didn't that motherfucker Dahl just painted the whole picture in one line?" I'm like, "That's what I wanna be, concise." Anybody can make some simple shit sound complicated, all you need is a thesaurus. But to pare it down to the bare bones and still evoke an emotion, paint that picture? That's a gift.
Some of your commentary on race is pretty interesting, particularly when it comes to liberals and their attitudes toward blacks. Where do you stand politically? Do you consider yourself liberal or conservative?
It seems to me that conservatives operate under fear and liberals operate under guilt. I try to be a free thinker.
Liberal's a misnomer anyway. They're some of the most closed-minded, intolerant, judge-you-on-your-outfit people I've ever met.
As for the black shit... I worked at McDonalds, and they'd get tax breaks for hiring handicapped people. We had some retarded dude named Tom. He'd always burn the fucking buns but you couldn't get too mad at him because he was slow. That's how these liberals treat blacks. It's some of the most condescending bullshit I've ever seen. They don't expect much out of them. That's racist. Then on top of that, they fetishize them and treat them like some mystical creatures. And they do that because they're rare; they don't know black people. I've been to these left wing, Ivy League parties. It's a bunch of white people with a smattering of Asian chicks talking about the "African American" struggle.
You and Eminem come from similar backgrounds. Do you feel a stronger connection to his music than you do to other hip-hop artists? Does it surprise you that his music—so filled with his own personal struggles and whatnot—translates to such a wide audience?
All the greats were able to tell the truth and put that emotion on page. That's what makes him great. That's what makes Scarface great. That's what makes 2pac. On the flip side, that's why Biggie's overrated, to me—because he didn't really do that. People just wanna know that they're not the only one going through it. That someone else out there has a broken heart, is lonely, is insecure. We're all these little islands just floating around just trying to connect.
Do I connect more to Em? Some of it. The being the broke white guy part, yeah. But if I'm really trying to vibe out on some shit, feel something, I'll bang some Townes Van Zandt. That motherfucker will break your heart.
What's next for you? Would you consider writing fiction?
I'm not sure. I wrote this book as it happened over the last few years. And now I'm out here selling it. I gotta tell you I'm tired. And I don't wanna write shit else. But I'm not gonna make any decisions because I know this is how I'm supposed to feel. Because if you finish a book about your life, and you're not exhausted, then maybe you didn't go hard enough.
Words by Kenneth Partridge