On this day in music history: April 10, 1990 - “Fear Of A Black Planet”, the third album by Public Enemy is released. Produced by Carl Ryder (Chuck D.), Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee and Eric “Vietnam” Sadler (aka “The Bomb Squad”), it is recorded at Greene Street Studios in New York City, Spectrum City Studios and The Music Palace in West Hempstead, L.I., NY from June - October 1989. After the major critical and significant commercial success of their second album “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back”, Public Enemy return to the studio in mid 1989 to begin work on the follow up. Before that happens, the group become embroiled in controversy when Minister Of Information Professor Griff is interviewed by the Washington Times in May of 1989. In the interview, Griff makesanti-semitic remarks which erupt into a media firestorm, leading to his dismissal from the group. The controversy becomes so intense that Chuck D. announces that P.E. is disbanding just as “Fight The Power” (#1 Rap, #20 R&B), from Spike Lee’s film “Do The Right Thing” is being released. In truth, the statement is made in order to take the media scrutiny off of them, and to be able to work in relative peace. Much like previous album, P.E. seizes the opportunity to make statements about issues affecting the African American community, primarily “the state of race relations” in the United States. Like its predecessor, “Planet” weaves a musically dense fabric of samples for each track, utilizing various tools including the E-mu SP-1200 sampler/drum machine, Akai S9000, and a Apple Macintosh computer to create the tracks. Due to the complexity of synchronizing the large number of samples, and the time limitations of the samplers, The Bomb Squad layer them on multitrack tape by recording a SMPTE timecode (used for synchronizing film and sound) on to the tape, in order to properly synchronize all of the samples. Proceeded by the single “Welcome To The Terrordome” (#3 Rap, #15 R&B, #31 Pop) in January of 1990, chronicling the recent controversy with Griff (who is quietly reinstated back into the group), anticipation for the album is high. When “Fear Of A Black Planet” is released, it is a major success with fans and critics alike. It spins off a total of five singles including “911 Is A Joke” (#1 Rap, #15 R&B, and “Brothers Gonna Work It Out” (#22 Rap, #20 R&B). The hour long plus album is also released as a special promo only triple LP vinyl set housed in a black & white single pocket sleeve for DJ’s, which becomes a collector’s item. “Black Planet” is regarded as one of the best albums of the 90’s, and is added to the National Recording Registry by The Library Of Congress in 2005. “Fear Of A Black Planet” peaks at number three on the Billboard R&B album chart, number ten on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
This interview is a bit odd for the time-period because they only bring up the robots once and then it is quickly sidestepped. There’s a lot of talk about their tastes in music, their ideas for Discovery, and what equipment they use/like, for those who are interested in that. (Scan by ifcwdjd; you can find the original French interview in her bulk article downloads.)
(Please note I do not speak French, so this was done entirely with Google Translate, a few other translators, and some French grammar websites. I tried to turn it into actual, human English as much as possible. My translation is probably not 100% accurate and should be taken with a grain of salt. My notes are in italics.)