Saturday, November 24, 2012

Public Enemy

Man, one of the most revolutionary hip hop groups of all time, Public Enemy. Words cannot express how much this group has meant to hip hop, and what they still mean today. Leader Chuck D, intelligent, witty, at times controversial, exemplified the "angry black man" in the late 80s-early 90s, and all of these things were manifested in Public Enemy's groundbreaking albums, especially the first four. Hypeman Flavor Flav would've been considered an annoyance to anyone else, but he brought a welcomed sense of humor in the midst of Chuck's serious rants on social and political themes, and when it comes to those themes, he did it as well as anyone else at the time. If hip hop was the "black CNN", Chuck D was the head reporter.

"My 98 was 87 on a record yo!" True words from Chuck. The legacy that is Public Enemy began in 1987 with the great debut album. Although the social and political themes wouldn't be touched until the next album, this was a hell of a way to get things started, and it did so with a complete bang.

Rating- 5 stars

5 favorite songs- Miuzi Weighs A Ton, You're Gonna Get Yours, M.P.E., Public Enemy No. 1, and Sophisticated B****

And here we are, one of the greatest albums in all of music period. Not only did PE create an album that clearly bested its debut, but this one groundbreaking album still continues to receive deserved praise and it continues to get better with time. There are straight classics up and down the lineup. Chuck's views on social and political themes begin with this album, specifically in the form of "Don't Believe The Hype", in which he's essentially saying don't believe everything being fed to you, especially from the media. He also delivered awesome storytelling with the classic "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos". Add in additional classics like "Bring The Noise", "Night of the Living Baseheads", "Rebel Without A Pause", just to name a few, you have the makings of a true classic. No amount of praise can describe this album's impact.

Rating- 5 stars

5 favorite songs- Night of the Living Baseheads, Bring The Noise, Don't Believe The Hype, Louder Than A Bomb, and Rebel Without A Pause

One of the best albums of 1990, PE's great run continued with their third album, and it was just as good as their sophomore album. Chuck's addressing of social and political themes at the time were still at the forefront, and he seemingly got better (and more in depth) with it, especially with the classic "Fight The Power", and when it comes to a song like that, you don't get any more positive/powerful than that. And it doesn't stop there. Flavor Flav's solo "911 Is A Joke" brilliantly highlighted the police's often delayed responses in the case of an emergency (it's tone is serious and humorous at the same time), "Brothers Gonna Work It Out", "Welcome To The Terrordome", "Power To The People", "Revolutionary Generation", and the Ice Cube and Big Daddy Kane assisted "Burn Hollywood Burn" spoke volumes with their dope beats and insightful lyrics. Remarkable album indeed.

Rating- 5 stars

5 favorite songs- Fight The Power, Burn Hollywood Burn, Welcome to the Terrordome, 911 Is A Joke, and Revolutionary Generation

At one time I thought PE had lost a step with this album, but with hindsight being 20/20, they were just as relevant in 1991 as they were the year before. I also forgot to mention that the team responsible for the incredible production on their first two albums were The Bomb Squad, and I'm not sure if PE would've been the same group without their sound. That right there was one of the missing elements on this album, as the squad were the executive producers here and a team of largely unknown producers stepped in, and they did quite well. Overall, an excellent album and basically their last great one.

Rating- 4.5 stars

5 favorite songs- Can't Truss It, Shut Em Down, By The Time I Get To Arizona, Nighttrain, and Get The F*** Outta Dodge

Well, all things considered, PE's incredible run wasn't going to last forever, and with this album, which was their most critically panned album ever, it was all but confirmed that the times had passed them by. With hip hop changing everyday, PE's material was no longer considered groundbreaking, but passe.

Since the 5th album, I haven't heard any PE albums afterwards, and that was not due to a lack of interest. Their first four albums set a standard in hip hop that'll likely never be equalled or duplicated. Public Enemy are Hall Of Fame worthy in every sense of the word, and I have nothing but honor and respect for what they accomplished!

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