Public Enemy are the DNA of Hip-Hop. They were the foundation of Def Jam Records alongside LL Cool J, Slick Rick, and the Beastie Boys. They are one of the cornerstones of Hip-Hop that educated a Nation of Billions through their music. They’ve played a pivotal role within every great era of Hip-Hop, and they continue to ‘Fight The Power’.
With an increasingly relevant voice and their new album Man Plans God Laughs now released, the time is once again right for Public Enemy. For thirty years, Public Enemy have been first to the front line to defend their community and the culture they developed. They transformed hip-hop from a curious new musical art form to a powerful political tool used to push for equality for the black community. At the end of the 20th century, they fought for – and won – control of the means of creative production, helping to forever alter the music industry.
Manufacturing and selling rebellion is easy. An angry scowl here, a clenched fist there, and suddenly you have the appearance of revolt. Living a life of authentic insurrection, however, is an entirely different thing. Public Enemy embody rebellion long revealing things as they really are, but also demanding how they should be.
Public Enemy have proven over the past three decades that rebellion is more than the sound of a musical genre, the culture of a social class, or the color of a skin; it is an unmovable, unmistakable state of mind and heart, hellbent on creating change where it is needed most. Determined to give voice to those who have long been ignored, unafraid to question institutional injustices, and intent on challenging any and all obstacles to social justice, Public Enemy have resisted with unprecedented intensity and eloquence.
While audiences and artists worldwide have long been inspired by Public Enemy’s music and message, it was the sound of their 1987 debut single, “Public Enemy #1,” that heralded the group’s arrival. Co-founder Chuck D’s passionate vocals implored and scolded, while Flavor Flav’s euphoric delivery amused and lightened the mood. The duo’s lyrics and delivery were captivating enough on their own, but the Bomb Squad’s unrelenting beat and colorful samples firmly established Public Enemy as hip-hop heroes and sonic revolutionaries.
1990’s Fear of a Black Planet featured Public Enemy’s signature song, “Fight The Power,” used by Spike Lee in his film Do The Right Thing. Rolling Stone magazine called it “the ultimate anti-establishment rallying cry.” The album also included the powerful “911 Is a Joke” and “Welcome To The Terrordome.” Apocalypse 91…The Enemy Strikes Black conquered 1991, hitting #4 on the album chart and going platinum. The record included “By the Time I Get To Arizona,” an emotional demand that America confront race relations after the state’s governor refused to recognize the new Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday.
By 1999, Public Enemy had discovered the Internet and digital music as new vehicles for their message. There’s a Poison Goin’ On was the second album released in mp3 format. Public Enemy’s emergence as a leader in the rise of digital music and their stance in the controversial Napster debate made Chuck D the voice of a new cause. 1999 also marked a major creative evolution for the group, as DJ Lord took over the turntables following Terminator X’s retirement. The members of The baNNed have since taken Public Enemy performances to intoxicating new heights. The brainchild of Professor Griff, The baNNed consists of guitarist Khari Wynn, drummer T. Bone Motta, and legendary bassist Davy DMX.
Public Enemy’s Revolverlution (2002) was an innovative and interactive album, allowing fans to remix songs and upload their work. In 2005, the group released New Whirl Odor, which Mojo added to their Top 10 Urban Albums of the year. Public Enemy celebrated their 20th anniversary with 2007’s How You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul? Pitchfork noted that the group “refuses to let their listeners be complacent.” In 2012, Public Enemy released two albums, Most of My Heroes STILL Don’t Appear on No Stamp and The Evil Empire of Everything. Consequence of Sound praised Public Enemy for “delivering their signature style with an angst and tenacity typical of men half their age, and then combining that with the wisdom of 25 years in the rap game.”
The group spent the summer of 2015 performing at no less than 10 major concert festivals worldwide and later this year will embark on a global arena tour with The Prodigy.