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BCB 100 - Public Enemy

Posted: 09 Oct 2006, 01:13
by geoffcowgill
What a great act, and not just for the glory years of '88-'91. The last few records have been relatively disappointing, but Muse Sick N Our Mess Age, He Got Game, and There's A Poison Goin' On are all tremendously underrated and kick the crap out of the more acclaimed rap albums from the time they were released that I've heard. Yeah, now Flava Flav has gone beyond being a clown to being an embarrassment courtesy of his VH1 paychecks, but Chuck D is still a voice of righteous indignation and I can't yet count them out. Regardless of what the future holds, though, they made some of the most vital and visceral music I've ever heard and it has held up phenomenally well.

Fear of a Black Planet is my favorite rap album, period. Relentless rage, where even Flava's tracks are aflame with bile. Is there a punk album with anything approaching the tension, anger, and attitude of this record?

Favorite song for me is "Can't Truss It", their Middle Passage narrative. "Rollin' in my own leftover/When I roll over, I roll over in somebody else's". The production is incredibly dense, with sonic ideas and lyrical flourishes squeezed in to mirror the slaves on the boat. "Here come the drums" is announced as Flava shouts out "Confusion!". A sample seems to be screaming "I'll murder you!" over and over, sliced and scratched by Terminator X, and Flava matter-of-factly repeats "alright, alright", as if to say "well, violent revolution's comin'; don't say I didn't warn ya; c'est la vie, c'est la guerre". Your heart pumps, your blood boils, your brain just about gets done in.


Favorite Album -
Fear of a Black Planet

Favorite Song - "Can't Truss It"

Posted: 09 Oct 2006, 01:22
by Uncle Spellbinder
Ahhh, Public Enemy. Without a doubt, the finest of the Political/Social rap acts.

Favorite Album: The debut, "Yo!, Bum Rush The Show"

Favorite Song: I agree with "Cant' Truss It". Excellent song.

Posted: 09 Oct 2006, 01:52
by Penk!
I think the only two albums I ever really got on with were the first two. FOABP never really did much for me - too patchy - and after that, meh.
But those first two are pretty monumental.

Album: It Takes a Nation of Millions...
Song: Louder Than a Bomb

Posted: 09 Oct 2006, 02:23
by Davey the Fat Boy
Album - Another vote for Fear of a Black Planet. Like Geoff I consider it the greatest hip hop album I've heard.

Song - Cliche or not, I'm taking "Fight the Power"

Great band. If any rap artists are to be remembered to history, it'll be Public Enemy.

Posted: 09 Oct 2006, 02:29
by king feeb
I don't listen to them very much anymore. I dunno, maybe they're too much of a product of a specific time?

Album: Fear Of A Black Planet

Song: "911 Is A Joke"

Posted: 09 Oct 2006, 03:30
by The Write Profile
Davey The Fat Boy wrote:
Great band. If any rap artists are to be remembered to history, it'll be Public Enemy.


I would hope (and indeed, expect) that they're not the only rap artist to be remembered in history, but they'll certainly deserve a footnote regardless what's happened since :-)

Anyway, it has to be one of the "big 2" doesn't it, though Yo! Bumrush the Show has its moments, it's at once defiant and embryonic. It Takes A Nation of Millions, is an unrelenting and often brutal piece of work, full of contradictions and messianic protestations that sounds massive even today, but the Bomb Squad's production on Fear of A Black Planet just tips it over, I think- there's something about the opening three cuts, the way that refer back to their shattering predecessor and then tear it apart. Sure, it's probably a bit on the long side, but its heights- Brothers Gonna Work It Out, 911 is a Joke, Welcome to the Terrordome- are undeniable.

I think the problem is that Chuck needed Flava Flav's interjections to take his piousness down a notch, particularly on something like "Don't Believe the Hype" ("no you can't have it back- silly rabbit") or Rebel Without A Pause ("you're losing 'em, Chuck"). Actually, I've said this before but I see quite a bit of the clowning side of Flava Flav's personality in Andre 3000, particularly when the Outkast pair work in tandem. It's telling that their most powerful releases had the best production values as well, I wonder whether Chuck really did start to believe his hype.

Apocalypse 91...is good, if somewhat inconsistent, though "Can't Truss It" is pretty defining all the same.

As for their later stuff, I'll admit that I'm not very au fait with it, but then again, I'm not sure whether I need to be. Of course, I'd be willing to be proved wrong, but there's something I'll call the "Scary Monsters" syndrome about it. But yeah, their best stuff was vicious, for sure.

Posted: 09 Oct 2006, 19:35
by bixhenry
I was a pretty big fan in the '80s. Despite my misgivings about their ties to Louis Farrakhan, there was no more incendiary hip-hop outfit to me, and their music was revelatory. Their best stuff will definitely endure.

Album: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
Song: tie between 'Bring The Noise' and 'Fight The Power'

Posted: 09 Oct 2006, 19:41
by Butch Manly
i remember hearing yo! bumrush the show for the first time like it was yesterday - i was completely stunned - and yet they easily topped it with it takes a nation of millions..., still their masterpiece to my ears. fear of a black planet might sound a bit more sonically "agreeable" but what's the point in that? this is PE, for fuck's sake.

album: it takes a nation of millions

song: rebel without a pause

Posted: 09 Oct 2006, 19:46
by KeithPratt
LP : It takes a Nation

Song : Cole Cole Lampin with Flavor (no really!)

Posted: 09 Oct 2006, 19:51
by Sea Of Tunes
One of the groups I never could get 'into'. Despite listening attempts, reading some lyrics, all that jazz...
I find a lot about them not OK, and that is putting it very mildly. The artwork, the brutality, the sheer loudness... it just does not move me for one second.
Yet I hear a lot of knowledgeable people singing their praises.
To me it shall remain a question for ever.

Posted: 09 Oct 2006, 19:52
by Leg of lamb
So many sentimental favourites being added to the BCB 100 today!

And yeah, that's a crap way of putting it with Public Enemy.

Put it this way, hip-hop is now part of my bloodstream - before hearing Nation Of Millions, I'd happily deride it like a typically bookish whiteboy twat. FOABP is cool and has a surprisingly lush and layered production, but it'll always be the second album.

Favourite song? Probably 'Caught, Can We Get A Witness?'

'Your singers are spineless, as they sing their senseless songs to the mindless
Your general subject - love - is minimal
It's sex for a profit!'

Now, I'm a guy who likes a good love song more than most things but fuck that shit when I'm listening to PE.

Posted: 09 Oct 2006, 19:54
by brassneck..
LP : Fear of a Black Planet

Song : Can't do nuttin' for ya man They did have humour...and it's funky as fuck. Flav's finest moment?

Posted: 09 Oct 2006, 20:00
by nathan
I really liked them when I was 13 because they were cartoonish and silly but whenever I hear them now I just find them incredibly annoying. Why putting out an LP with a goddamn shrill siren in every song was considered sonically groundbreaking still eludes me.

That said, I do kind of like some the of the stuff they did for that He Got Game movie from about 8 years ago now.

Posted: 10 Oct 2006, 00:56
by mentalist (slight return)
It Takes A Nation Of Millions

Night Of The Living Bassheads

Posted: 10 Oct 2006, 01:33
by bobzilla77
I especially like the line

They claim that I sample
But they should sample this - my pit bull!


Album - Nation of Millions
Song - She Watch Channel Zero

Posted: 10 Oct 2006, 06:13
by sloopjohnc
I remember seeing an interview with Russell Simmons when he heard PE for the first time and his response was, "What the fuck is this?'

As much metal as hip hop, I love Terminator X, he just attacks the decks. The only old skool act that comes close is early LL Cool J.

Their pairing with Slayer was perfect.

Their first three albums are essential to me just because they stood out from the crowd.

Posted: 10 Oct 2006, 06:22
by Sneelock
album: Fear of a Black Planet
song: Night of the Living Baseheads

Posted: 10 Oct 2006, 09:31
by Jumper k
It Takes A Nation is an epochal record regardless of genre.

Its hard to pick a single track but I'm gonna pick Politics of Sneaker Pimps off the He Got Game Soundtrack

On the outs I lace up, the world I face up
To score on anybody, its war on everybody
The new guys come in blood shot between the eyes
As long as their sellin that merchandise
And one what goes in don't come back
The color may be green but its also black
And red I know many heads that spent bloodshed
Cursed in converses, dead in Pro Keds
Now every Tom, Dick, Harry or Joe Smith
Skip the spauldings, pony's, and k-swiss
High school and college coaches gettin
Kickbacks from scholarships and them slave ships

Hey Dr. J where you got those moves
Was it gettin high in the schools
Can it be the shoes?
Truth is truth, I tear the fuckin roof off the house
Expose them foes with my mouth
I see corporate hands up in foreign lands
With the man behind the man gettin paid behind the man
I hold the rocket stop the hand in my pocket
200 a pair but I'm addicted to the gear
They'll make me do things on the court to amaze ya
I heard they make em for a buck 8 in Asia
They came a long way baby since
Clyde Frazier had pumas, pullin mad consumers
Them Filas I'm feelin but I cant touch the ceiling
Them New Balance hits 120 million
The last thing I need is Adidas terminatin my contract
For wearing those old pair of wack
Reebok low tops covered up by floppy socks
Gave me a jump shot before I got jumped and shot
Duckin a word from my sponsor
Trying to end my year like Kwaanza

Been paid since the 8th grade
11th grader, pop the champagne
12th grade start the campaign
Gettin fame sign my name in the dotted frame
Nike got me pullin re's and g's
Shit, I can get shot for these
Please god give me 20 more years on these knees
To maintain without this game I gotta do keys
And I don't wanna go there because its fuckin everywhere
Factories wanna be me kids wanna see me
Behind the wheels and endorsement deals
Its the politics and the tricks behind the kicks

Posted: 10 Oct 2006, 19:41
by toomanyhatz
I'm surprised that people are picking the debut. Are we really that into being "underground"? The leap between the first and the 2nd & 3rd is staggering. Subject matter, rap skill, production- it all got tons better seemingly instantly. Millions... and Fear... are two of the greatest rap records ever made. Yo!... is nice. If that was all they'd ever done, we'd have forgotten about them by now.

What Bix said- I'm not necessarily comfortable with all the political stances they've taken, but the music pretty much always works. And like Geoff said, there's lots of good later stuff. Flav and Chuck D are quite a combo too, aren't they? The John and Paul ying and yang taken to extremes- the strident political guy & the goofball- they complement each other nicely.

Album: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
Song: Chuck D led- Fight The Power - another song that no matter how many times you hear it, it retains its power. Flav led - Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya Man - cracks me up every time.

Posted: 10 Oct 2006, 19:46
by sloopjohnc
toomanyhatz wrote:I'm surprised that people are picking the debut. Are we really that into being "underground"? The leap between the first and the 2nd & 3rd is staggering. Subject matter, rap skill, production- it all got tons better seemingly instantly. Millions... and Fear... are two of the greatest rap records ever made. Yo!... is nice. If that was all they'd ever done, we'd have forgotten about them by now.

What Bix said- I'm not necessarily comfortable with all the political stances they've taken, but the music pretty much always works. And like Geoff said, there's lots of good later stuff. Flav and Chuck D are quite a combo too, aren't they? The John and Paul ying and yang taken to extremes- the strident political guy & the goofball- they complement each other nicely.

Album: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
Song: Chuck D led- Fight The Power - another song that no matter how many times you hear it, it retains its power. Flav led - Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya Man - cracks me up every time.


Chuck D and Flav are almost Shakesperean in their counterpoint. Chuck D is the angry, humorless protagonist and Flavor Flav is the fool, who's ridiculousness puts the brakes on the anger, but whose comments are no less sublime and pointed.

I love that Flav does 911 is a Joke vs. Chuck D.