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MUSIC
BEATS AND PLACES
2006

A collection of "the unleashed and the unreleased," Public Enemy's Beats and Places gets back to the outrage, back to the immediacy of the early days, and turns out to be the most satisfying full-length this crew has released since the millennium turned. Unfortunately, it's released at a time when the hip-hop community is PE-saturated with a remix album (Bring That Beat Back) and an album with lyrics written by Paris, not Chuck D (Rebirth of a Nation) both landing within the last 12 months. Beats and Places looks even less vital than the Paris album since it's marked as a compilation of remixes and tracks looking for a proper home, but as the short liner notes infer, these lost tracks aren't really leftovers. Instead they're venom-filled, immediate cuts originally set free on the Internet in hopes of viral destruction. "Hell No, We Ain't Allright" deals with "the son-of-a-Bush nation" and the Katrina aftermath while "Grand Theft Oil" manipulates said Bush's speeches into a doublespeak nightmare through the power of Johnny Juice Rosado's turntables. Rosado worked on both Yo! Bum Rush the Show and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and adds to the old-school flavor, as does "The Flavor Flav Show" which repeats everything great about Nation's "Cold Lampin' with Flavor"." It's unfortunate all the highlights are pushed upfront, but a bonus DVD of plenty of late-era videos and extras makes up for that, leaving only the lack of helpful track-by-track information to complain about. A great deal of the album doesn't seem to have been leaked or released in any shape or form before, but there's no telling why it was recorded or what for. This sure sounds like half to two-thirds of a proper, vital album with some exciting extras tacked on. Guessing what would have happened had they finished this possible album instead of the other projects is both interesting and frustrating, which has been par for the course with PE as of late. Beats and Places at least suggests the future could be much, much brighter. David Jeffries, All Music Guide