“It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What you do? You integrate it with cream; you make it weak. If you pour too much cream in, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it’ll put you to sleep.” - Malcolm X
This single, along with “Don’t Believe the Hype”, conveyed their message so fiercely and with so much flow, that it caused immediate tension in the press and genuine fear. The record as a whole is an explosive masterpiece that delivers its lyrics with an infectious controlled anger. It’s an album that speaks to you and begs for a debate.
PUBLIC ENEMY, FEAR OF A BLACK PLANET (1990)
Two years later, Public Enemy released Fear of a Black Planet, an equally sonically and lyrically ambitious project. The song “Fight the Power” from this record would go on to become the theme song for Spike Lee’s film, Do the Right Thing, “a chilling morality tale of police brutality, telling the story of a deadly choke hold by police, sparking a race riot” (abc news). The film is now recognized as a masterpiece for its superb production, style, and message to the extent that it’s being taught in schools. Even president Barack Obama recognized and praised the film for “holding a mirror up to society”.
SPIKE LEE, DO THE RIGHT THING (1989) PUBLIC ENEMY, “FIGHT THE POWER” (1989)
Public Enemy-It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
April 14th 1988
1. Countdown To Armageddon 2. Bring The Noise 3. Don’t Believe The Hype 4. Cold Lampin With Flavor 5. Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic 6. Mind Terrorist 7. Louder Than A Bomb 8. Caught, Can We get A Witness? 9. Show Em Whatcha Got 10. She Watch Channel Zero?! 11. Night Of The Living Baseheads 12. Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos 13. Security Of The First World 14. Rebel Without A Pause 15. Prophets Of Rage 16. Party For Your Right To Fight
’This is the dope jam...’ 1988 was a high watermark for rap and none more so than Public Enemy. Night of the Living Bassheads is about the scurge of drugs on the street, a typical piece of social-conscience writing from Chuck D, about the idea that you may be socially disenfranchised but you still have your mind, your wits, or you do until you start freebasing it away, becoming the kind of dope the authorities want you to be. The sound is urgent, thrilling, civilisation teetering on the edge of collapse, the sound of a terror state, or a state of terror. Maybe they knew more than we could’ve imagined.
Now Playing: PUBLIC ENEMY “Rebel Without a Pause” (because of both their Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction and because 25 years ago this week, “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back” was released)!
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