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Public Enemy

  • Yo Bum Rush The Show
  • It Takes A Nation Of Millions...
  • Fear Of A Black Planet

    Public Enemy

  • Run DMC,
  • Ice-T,

  • Album Reviews |

    Public Enemy

    it takes a nation of millions fear of a black planet yo bum rush the show

    Yo Bum Rush The Show 7 ( 1987 )
    You're Gonna Get Yours / Sophisticated Bitch / Miuzi Weighs A Ton / Timebomb / Too Much Posse / Rightstarter (Message To A Black Man) / Public Enemy No. 1 / M.P.E. / Yo! Bum Rush The Show / Raise The Roof / Megablast / Terminator X

    It’s difficult tackling an artist like Public Enemy. Even people who never listen to Rap/Hip Hop or music at all, come to that, will surely know the name and of the significance attached to the group. I can take one of two lines, then. I could go the all-glowing praise route, knowing of this vast significance and copy everybody else’s point of view at least through the classic period of the band. Alternately, I can be honest and give an open-minded appraisal. The first three albums I guess are all hailed as classics, yet ‘Yo Bum Rush The Show’ is particularly creaky around the edges. True, Run DMC albums sound dated now but they still pack an energetic punch and showcase a way with melody. For all Public Enemy’s attack the rhythms, rhymes and flow demonstrated by the MC’s fail to pull me in time and again, which they should do if we were discussing a classic record. The style the music demonstrates owes much to the groundbreaking work of Run DMC and whilst Public Enemy’s raps are actually about something, which wasn’t always the case with Run DMC, there’s not quite enough here for this to qualify unreservedly as a great or even particularly noteworthy release. Well, historically this is a noteworthy and important release, but that’s another matter. So, let’s take the opening couple of tracks. Both are decent, ‘Sophisticated’ and ‘You’re Gonna Get Yours’. The latter which opens the records blasts from the speakers and there’s a good vocal and musical attack upon the eardrums. The former is a nice groove, almost addictive and the sound of the words alone propels the song forwards, you don’t pay too much attention here to what they’re actually saying. ‘You’re Gonna Get Yours’ is prototype Public Enemy and a statement of things to come. It’s a busy track and the words are well worth hearing.

    'Public Enemy No 1' started life as the demo that helped get the band signed. It's not much of anything to be honest, a drone serves as the backing track amidst standard rap beats. The flow and the vocal performance is impressive but the lyrics less so, very much standard fare. 'Megablast' is just crap, 'Terminator X Speaks With His Hands' only disappointing for the fact of knowing what Terminator X would do on subsequent albums, he was an important part of the sound. Along with the opening tune, 'Rightstarter' is a mighty highlight, 'MIND OVER MATTER!' indeed. Generally though, this is a rap album with less variety than it needs and not enough levity.

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    top of page It Takes A Nation Of Millions... 9 ( 1988 )
    Countdown To Armageddon / Bring The Noise / Don't Believe The Hype / Cold Lampin With Flavor / Terminator X On The Edge Of Panic / Mind Terrorist / Louder Than A Bomb / Caught, Can We Get A Witness / Show Em Whatcha Got / She Watch Channel Zero / Night Of The Living Baseheads / Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos / Security Of The First World / Rebel Without A Pause / Prophets Of Rage / Party For Your Right To Fight /

    Public Enemy continue the attack. Competitors had raised the game musically. Public Enemy not only raised their game here to match, but set new standards. Gone is the old-school sparesness to be replaced in part by bass-lines, actual bass-lines amidst much inventive sampling. The overall sound is lightyears away from their debut, a mere year before. It sounds like a different band. Even the MCs have raised their game. A track such as 'Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos' is virtually perfect. You can listen to either the musical track, which is stunning by itself, or the rap, which is also stunning. You can listen to the entire thing and be blown away. This one track of an hour long album is already better than the groups own entire debut LP. It's funny. Let's imagine you're a rock fan. The only rock album I immediately think of that is as unrelenting in its attack upon a listener in terms of aggression alone is the debut Rage Against The Machine album. Excuse me for a moment, you rap fans out there. What, all two of you? Well, I'm not being funny, but reading a primarily rock/indie fans views on rap must have some of you crying into your beer at least. Bear with me. It's attacking me as we speak. Haven't I heard that bass groove that opens 'Security Of The First World' before? I know, Fatboy Slim as 'Beats International' based an entire UK number one single on it. Don't know where Public Enemy got it from. 'Prophets Of Rage' is a typical track here. Straight away, no messing around and straight into the lyrical attack. Who needs rock music anyway?

    Rap classics? This has a few. 'Bring The Noise' later remade with Anthrax. The original is better, all squealing samples, kettles and pots and pans and Chuck D on the mic. Here we go again. Bring The Noise. 'Don't Believe The Hype', an international catchphrase in the making. The mighty 'Rebel Without A Pause' and Public Enemy become the Jimi Hendrx of sorts of Rap music, if that comparison might make more sense to you. The kettle sample is here again. Apparently Chuck D's mother did ask why he had what sounds like a kettle going through his album. No matter! 'She Watch Channel Zero' is another classic, one that mixes in a guitar sample far more effectively admist this mighty noise than Run DMC ever did. That my friends, is high praise indeed. Believe the hype.

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    top of page Fear Of A Black Planet ( 1990 )
    Contract on the World Love Jam / Brothers Gonna Work It Out / 911 Is a Joke / Incident at 66.6 FM / Welcome to the Terrordome / Meet the G That Killed Me / Pollywanacracka / Anti-Nigger Machine / Burn Hollywood Burn [feat. Ice Cube & Big Daddy Kane] / Power to the People / Who Stole the Sole? / Fear of a Black Planet / Revolutionary Generation / Can't Do Nuttin' for Ya Man / Reggie Jax / Leave This Off Your Fuckin Charts / B. Side Wins Again / War at 33 1/3 / Final Count of the Collision Between Us and the Damned / Fight the Power

    Lots of tracks and clearly Public Enemy have a lot to talk about. 'Fear Of A Black Planet' is a title not only to get people talking about Rap music taking over the charts ( although, that would come later! ) but of rap music in relation to inter-racial relationships. 'Burn Hollywood Burn' refers to explotative roles given to black actors. 'Fight The Power' seems to sum everything up, even though it's slightly vague as to the precise nature of the power in question. All power? A particular government. Well, maybe everything. Whatever speculation, it works. Some words to describe the production and the sound. 'It Takes A Nation Of Millions' still left in some old school rap breathing space. Everything here is filled up, a huge mesh of intertwined beats and samples with little relief anywhere to be had. It means the album becomes something of a chore to listen to all the way through at over an hour long but the messages and the commitment keeps on flying and in the end, keeps you listening. Griff had been ejected from the band for anti-semetic remarks, Chuck flies all over the place and it's his voice that also keeps you listening. Something like 'Welcome To The Terrordome' is just so claustraphobic that repeated listening is required to make everything out. Similarly, 'Burn Hollywood Burn', although this has an absolute classic, killer backing track full to the brim with insistent grooves, samples, beats and sirens and god knows what else.

    The title track has some worthy lyrics Man you ain't gotta Worry 'bout a thing / 'Bout your daughter / Nah she ain't my type / (But supposin' she said she loved me) / Are you afraid of the mix of Black and White / We're livin' in a land where / The law say the mixing of race / Makes the blood impure / She's a woman I'm a man / But by the look on your face / See ya can't stand it I've been wonderin' why / People livin' in fear / Of my shade / (Or my hi top fade) / I'm not the one that's runnin' / But they got me one the run / Treat me like I have a gun / All I got is genes and chromosomes / Consider me Black to the bone / All I want is peace and love / On this planet / (Ain't that how God planned it?)'Revolutionary Generation' is the type of track that rewards the patient listener who has sat through the album and reached this far. A funky as all hell backing track speeds by at eight miles high and the rap is almost too much to all take in, but by now you want to listen to every utterance from these guys. They leave the best to last, actually, with 'Fight The Power'. A tight cohesive musical backdrop with a rampant energy as the guys blow the old-school likes of Run DMC away completely with the raps. Enough said.

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    top of page this page last updated 12/05/07

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