If rap music is still CNN for African Americans, then Chuck D is still the lead anchor. While most rabid rap fans abandoned PE's revolution in the mid-1990s--once the group stopped utilizing the noisy, Bomb Squad-style of production--hip-hop is now in a clear state of emergency. The return of Chuck D is warranted.
On this 15th-anniversary CD, he wastes no time launching into anti-jiggy tirades on "Put It Up," where he skewers today's emcees: "Tycoons, damn I'm tired of these coons / Rappin' in circles, words can either help you or hurt you." In fact, some of the new material on the album is as thought-provoking as any of PE's older material. "Son of a Bush," produced by Professor Griff, dissects two generations of flawed Bush presidencies. However, the willingness to take creative risks can also have its downside.
It was no coincidence that Chuck D and comrades started falling off when Democrats took the White House. But with the Middle East at war, the economy in turmoil and another Bush in the driver's seat, America once again needs its Public Enemy. For "Son of a Bush," a Professor Griff-produced slow jam between grinding metal guitars and what sounds like a car alarm, Chuck spews pissed-off puns, ill alliteration and wrathful rhymes such as "I ain't callin' for no assassination/I'm just sayin', sayin'/Who voted for that asshole of your nation?"
Recalling 1992's Greatest Misses collection, Revolverlution includes three live recordings, four electronica-rock remixes that won an online contest, a pair of old public-service announcements, eight new tracks of varying quality and a few odd bits of feisty filler. The resulting aural rummage sale brings some timely noise while proving D can still deliver lyrical knocks to the deserving.
(RS 904 - September 5, 2002)
Contest-winning fans got to remix four Public Enemy hits, including "Shut 'Em Down" (Austria's DJ Functionist) and "Public Enemy No. 1" (Jeronimo Punx). While the interactive nature of the project is admirable, DJ Functionist is no Pete Rock and Jeronimo Punx's postmodern twist on "Public Enemy No. 1" only makes you crave to hear the original version again.
In the end, the live cuts (such as "Welcome to the Terrordome") and the so-so remixes bog down what would have otherwise been a tighter project. The often eloquent Revolverlution is no It Takes a Nation of Millions, but then again, what is? --Dalton Higgins
They may go in and out of fashion, fall out of critical favor, have comebacks and slumps, but even at their worst, the truly great artists have flashes where their brilliance shines through. Public Enemy is one of those bands.
When they released Revolverlution in 2002, they had been out of favor for a full decade, and throughout that time in the wilderness, the band fluctuated between brilliance (He Got Game) and unfocused meandering (Muse Sick), but the one constant remained [even when they were bad, it was a thrill to hear them, especially Chuck D., whose voice is one of those intangible, transcendent thrills in all of popular music; it's as magical and undefinable as John Coltrane's sheets of sound, Jeff Beck's head-spinning guitar, Duke Ellington's piano, Frank Sinatra or Hank Williams' singing, Keith Richards' open-G chords] no matter the quality of the material at hand, it's worth listening just to hear him rap. That was true when the Bomb Squad was producing PE, but, as subsequent recordings have proved, Chuck and PE could still sound shatteringly good without them.
True, they built on that sound, but they did find ways to expand it, and, unlike their peers and many new artists, they were restless, not afraid of falling on their face by trying something new. Indeed, Chuck D. made a point of trying something new, as he says in the liner notes for Revolverlution. Given the state of the industry and hip-hop, he's decided that there's no reason for Public Enemy to release a new album unless it covered uncharted territory.
Unlike many veteran artists, he's acutely aware that new product directly competes with the band's classic albums, and that the new audience has changed, looking for individual tracks instead of full-fledged, cohesive albums [and that might mean that they want killer new songs, live tracks, contemporary remixes, old remixes, whatever sounds good.
So, Revolverlution is an attempt to craft a record along those lines. Cohesion has been thrown out the window in favor of new tunes, live tracks from 1992, new remixes by fans, remixes of songs debuted on this album, PSAs, and interviews] the kind of album you'd burn if you spent some time on a really good artist's MP3 site. There's a bunch of good stuff here, whether it's new stuff ("Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need," the title track, the fiercely political "Son of a Bush," and "Get Your Sh*t Together"), remixes or archival material (great live versions of "Fight the Power" and "Welcome to the Terrordome"), along with collector-bait interview snippets that don't amount to much.
But, there's a lot to be said for old-fashioned, cohesive albums -they keep a consistent tone and message, delivering an album that felt unified, and thereby easier to listen to at length. This is deliberately the opposite of that kind of record, which is an admirable artistic move, but it does make the album feel like a bewildering hodge-podge, even after you understand the intent behind the entire thing.
Even so, it's a worthwhile listen because, no matter what, it is still a thrill to hear Public Enemy. They might not be hip, they're not as innovative as they used to be, but they still make very good, even great music, and that's evident on Revolverlution. If only it were presented better.Stephen Thomas Erlewine [Public Enemy: Revolverlution...18.9 Euro]
1. GOTTA GIVE THE PEEPS WHAT THEY NEED (3:31) Most of you already know how dope this track is. The sampled drums, the looped guitar lick, Chuck's vocals & Johnny Juice tearing up the one & twos...And it's a perfect track to kick this album off...
2. REVOLVERLUTION (3:01) - the Production on this track is EXCELLENT. This feels like classic Bomb Squad shit. Chuck's vocals are ferocious...he's amped on this track...killing it...you're all gonna love this track...it's reminiscent of classic PE in the sonics & the energy & ferocity...Only the 3rd song I've heard & only heard it twice but it's already my favorite...gonna play it a third time...
3. Miuzi weighs a ton LIVE San Francisco October 21st 1999 (1:47) - ..more of a shorter DJ Lord cut it up live remix type joint...it's a dope clip...almost an interlude at 1:48 but it's enough to be its own song...it's a great live track..you can feel the energy. Contrary to some expectations this is NOT filler
4. PUT IT UP (3:11) - ill beat again...hard to describe...Great lyrics as usual ("now patriotic MCs on bended knees") in fact on one listen Chuck's lyrics are the star here..flav makes a more notable appearance on the song...good track but short.
5. CAN A WOMAN MAKE A MAN LOSE HIS MIND? (3:34) - Flava in full effect. I can't believe this is the 5th song in a row that is DOPE. I'm serious. Flav's sounding good here...better than I've heard him a while...like he's tidied u his flow a bit...
and he's perfect to chant "can a woman make a man lose his mind". I am seriously tempted to say this is the illest solo Flav track I have ever heard...you just wanna chant the chorus with him too...I love the samped crowd chant of "go flava". Also a short track but lean.
6. PESA #1 (0:21) - this is a brief Public (Enemy #1) Service Announcement.
7. FIGHT THE POWER LIVE Winterthur Switzerland 1992 (3:55) - This is of course the iconic PE track. Though I found it to be a straight live track. Not as excitin to me as the "My Uzi Weights a Ton" live one. Still; it's "Fight The Power".
8. BY THE TIME I GET TO ARIZONA 'the moleman mixx' (3:57)
-Wow..I had not heard this remix before...it's ill...I promise I am being genuinely surprised by the dopeness of all this...I had not expected for so many dead on tracks. It's hard to describe the sonics of the soundtrack...it's as layered as bombsquad production..with something of a slight techno feel to it.
9. POSTconcert ARIZONA Interview/ UT ZOO TOUR (1:03) -I may be wrong but I could swear that's Geraldo Rivera interviewing Chuck.
10. SON OF A BUSH (5:50) - Metal guitars in the beginning but more straight & traditional than on say "She Watch Channel Zero". The guitar effect sounds are very reminiscent of Tom Morello's from RATM (Specifically from "Calm Like a Bomb" & "Ashes In The Fall"). This is probably as close as to what a Tom Morello/PE collaboration would sound like. To me it's interesting but only an ok track.
11. 54321...BOOM (3:37) - Drum N Bass?...or beats somewhat influenced by that style but slower...at least that's what it sounds like to ME...an off-beat beat...Chuck rides the beat at his own steady rhythm though...this is a head banger & hadda listen to it twice to fully absorb this track..it's definetely interesting...can't remember hearing anything that boom baps quite like this before...
12. WELCOME TO THE TERRORDOME LIVE Winterthur Switzerland 1992 (3:37) - This comes off with as much live energy as the "Uzi" live track..DJ Lord's also very prominently cutting it up as it plays.
13. B SIDE WINS AGAIN (Scattershot Remix) (4:54) - I also hadn't heard this remix; so it's new to me...feedback laden...almost industrial sounding remix...but with a funky bassline riding in there..real chaotic, a lot going on here in the Bomb Squad Spirit. I like this; Good remix.
14. GET YOUR S#IT TOGETHER (4:45) - THe more traditionally "hard-core rap" sounding track. Deep menacing funk bass...scratching peppered along the track...Chuck's voice sounding powerful...lyrics deal with our current...well current events. I hear a sample; "we got Johnny Juice on the one & two's" & of course he's cutting up along the track. The hardest track on here. Yes; this track is also dope.
15. PESA #2 (0:29)
16. SHUT EM DOWN 'The Functionis Version' (5:28) - I'm glad I hadn't heard most of these remixes because they then sound like new material. Another interesting remix..ambient sounds in the background but with ill drum beats prominent...it runs too long but other than that no complaints.
17. NOW A' DAZE (3:24) - Proffessor Griff in the spotlight...and he's ALSO sounding better than I've heard him in a while...his flow is good & the lyrics on point. there's a "viva la revolucion" sample in the back...This is almost a solo Griff track though Chuck jumps in the chorus. an OK track.
18. PUBLIC ENEMY NO 1 'jeronimo punx redu' (4:49) - I had heard this remix before...a technoish kinda rework of "PE No.1"...but actually this is *A REMIX OF THE REMIX*. They made it better. complete with a new clearer doper verse in Spanish by one of the Jeronimo Punks; "seguro como Maradona & amargo como un condenado a la gorda"...and the rest of the verse in Spanish is actually pretty dope. What can I say they made a nice remix even better.
19. The making of BURN HOLLYWOOD BURN / w big daddy kane, Flavor Flav, Chuck D ..1989 (2:45) - ? Not sure if this is linked to the correct track...it seems to be a remix of another track..johny Juice scratchig up a storm though..
20. GOTTA GIVE THE PEEPS WHAT THEY NEED (dj johnny juice - paris revolverlutionary mix) (3:35) - fuck yeah!...the ill beat from the original but...Paris lays down a vicious verse; "I got a call, Mistahuck said I/should take the red eye/gotta come to get the /to what I said I..." As dope as this track already was; with Paris this shit just explodes over the top...DAYYAM!..then Johnny Juice cutting up the record...this is everything you'd think a collabo with Paris would be!...and the perfect way to close the record...
Alright, as far as the new material is concered I am going to say the 2 weaker tracks are "Son of A Bush" & the Griff track "Now A Daze". They ain't wack; there was NOTHING on this album that I'd say was straight wack; but I feel these 2 tracks were only good & not on the level as the others. "REvolverlution" is tied with the "Give The Peeps remix" with Paris as my favorite joints..the flav track is impressive...even the remixes are impressive.
I think this woulda been an even stronger leaner listen if it was just the new material though...even if it's just 8 or 9 new tracks & some new remixes. THe intercut live tracks are dope but personally I feel they cut into the vibe of the new stuff. "Fight The Power" & "Welcome the Terordome" are classics and demand their own attention & hence take it away from the new stuff...kinda disruptive..
Chuck's lyrics...it's gonna take some more listens to fully absorb them all; but rest assured the legendary socio-political critiques are as fervent as ever...it's still the great writing & wit & intelligence of always...looking fwd to catchin more "oh shit!" verses or double entendres.
Overall on first impressions I am going to say that the new material (plus new remixes) is the best Public Enemy album I've heard since "Apocalypse '91"...Yeah I said it. Of course this is only my opinion I don't wanna underhype it or overhype it...but from what I know of the pepps on the EB you're all NOT going to be dissapointed at all...I wasn't.