Published on December 8th, 2018


Take the impossible physical distortion of PressPop’s 2017 statuette of Paul “H.R.” Hudson of Bad Brains fame, and you have a good visual representation of the man’s musical largesse.

When his Washington, D.C. band morphed from their jazz fusion roots into the veritable hardcore powerhouse they will forever be remembered as, punk rock was already a thing. But not like this. From the rarity of an all-black band doing punk, to the chutzpah of instrumental chops that

made them tighter, more thunderous and infinitely more pissed than their peers, Bad Brains’ innovative genre take endures.

Providence united Hudson on vocals with his brother, Earl Hudson, on drums, guitarist  Gary “Dr. Know” Miller and bassist Darryl Jenifer. Talent, vision and something else took over from there. The dynamic of the Bad Brains always hinged on insanity, with H.R.’s antics front and center.

Were Bad Brains a product of a less enlightened age? Yes. Their reprehensible statements towards gay people may be in the past, but they are part of the record. To blame homophobia on H.R.’s erratic behavior would be a cop-out. There should be a distinction between what constitutes a mental health issue, what is a mentality and what is, in the end, artistic spirit.

As a front man, he has laid down blueprints. As a restless soul, he’s suffered from debilitating SUNCT, lived homeless at times, and generally been regarded as a kooky uncle who once had a punk band — a soft-pedaling of his circumstances. But it appears that treatment, surgery and positivity have given him a new lease. 

None of which guarantees that H.R., playing with his reggae alter ego band, Human Rights, will show up prepared to rock his hardcore punk classics and give spirited renditions of heartfelt reggae numbers. There is the off chance of bullet-proof vests and motorcycle helmets restricting his movements and muffling his voice. But no matter how he appears, or how one chooses to see him, he will always be H.R. of Bad Brains, a fact that’s never getting washed out of history.

H.R. & Human Rights perform with DJ Fiasco at 9pm on December 18 at Churchill’s Pub in Miami. therealofficialhr.com ~Abel Folgar

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