Snap Judgement: Public Enemy just released an awesome new album today
by Ray Rahman
Tags: Chuck D, Flava Flav, Hip-Hop/Rap, Most Of My Heroes Still Don't Appear On No Stamp, New Stuff,Public Enemy, Snap Judgment, News
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Happy Hip-Hop Week, everybody!
As you surely know by now, Monday unexpectedly brought usFrank Ocean's Channel Orange, and yesterday dropped Azealia Banks' Fantasea mixtape on our unsuspecting heads. And now to end the work week, none other than Public Enemy has sneaked out their new album Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp on iTunes today.
Much like Green Day's strategy with the imminent Uno!-Dos!-Tre!trilogy, the influential rap group's new LP is meant to be paired with the upcoming September release The Evil Empire of Everything; according to a press release, Public Enemy frontman Chuck D considers the two albums to be "twins, not identical but fraternal."
Obviously, we can't speak for The Evil Empire of Everything, but we can say this: Most of My Heroes... is pretty damn great.Let's start off with the obvious: Who are these heroes Chuck D speaks of? They are legion. To be specific, some of the under-repped, disenfranchised political and civil-rights figures that the record throws shout-outs to include Cynthia McKinney, Dorothy Height, Dolores Huerta, Emiliano Zapata, Fred Hampton,Huey Newton (though he does have a comic character named after him), Cesar Chavez, Elizabeth Martinez, and Emmett Till (plus many, many more).
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So in case you were wondering: yes, the album's 11 tracks are indeed politically inclined. As the statistics-happy lead track "Run Till It's Dark" makes clear, Chuck D has never sipped the post-racial-America Kool-Aid: "Forty or so million blacks in America/How can 13.5 percent of the population be scarin' ya?"
And as one would expect, the group doesn't spare the hip-hop community either. Just take a gander at this indictment of the state of current rap music (or, really, most popular music today), taken from "Get Up, Stand Up": "This song don't give a damn/If the rhymes don't fit/Beat don't bounce/If the DJ quit." And to drive the point home: "This song don't give a damn/If you can't sing or dance to it/Can't romance to it."
The Hard Rhymer's just as merciless on "Truth Decay": "Truth don't sell a lot of records or books/To hell with rapes, to murder rates/To lying on mixtapes/I want the truth." The album's great lead single "I Shall Not Be Moved" expands on that theme: "They got me started; where I start?/Cause I do it to support the art/What good is learnin' from some record/When y'all only listen to 15 seconds." And then there's the crafty, Large Professor-featuring track "Catch the Thrown" - a play on Jay-Z and Kanye West's luxury-rap monster Watch the Throne - which argues that a disadvantaged community can certainly find socioeconomic progress and prosperity, but in the end, "You can't change race in the United States."
But what makes Most of My Heroes so good isn't just its revolution-keen lyrics - it's also its evolution-keen production. In a year that saw Killer Mike bring back Bomb Squad production and fight-the-power urgency with R.A.P. Music, these O.G.s (with help from great guests like Bumpy Knuckles, Brother Ali, and a Run-less DMC) seize the moment by spiking their usual formula with newer, weirder, and welcome musical elements. Even for non-fans of Public Enemy, this is a crisp, listenable album. The Z-Trip-assisted title track, for instance, is built on a minimal alarm-clock hook that mesmerizingly complements the song's shout-speak vocal track, while the record's closing number "WTF?" further confirms that Chuck and Co. are equipped to handle relaxed, non-agitated production.
We have no idea what The Evil Empire will end up sounding like, but we can say that at least this half of PE's twin-album series is an unexpected but good way to end a great week in music.
Entertainment Weekly(CLICK HERE)
GQ Magazine(CLICK HERE )
Still hype averse 25 years on: Public Enemy on being "the security of the hip-hop party"
By Kevin Perry 17 July 12
"That's a nice t-shirt!" Chuck D is admiring the image of Brian Jones on GQ.com's chest backstage at the Heineken Open'er Festival in Gdynia, northern Poland. "They call us the Rolling Stones of the rap game. I don't know if I'm Mick and Flavor's Keith. I think we switch back and forth!" Public Enemy have just come offstage after a storming set which included the first ever performance of their new single "I Shall Not Be Moved" as well as a host of songs from their canonical albums It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back and Fear of A Black Planet. Despite the high-intensityperformance we've just witnessed, Chuck D, now aged 51, exudes a Zen-like state of calm. All around us people are cracking open drinks and digging into food while main-stage headliners Franz Ferdinandhave shyly snuck in to hang out with the hip-hoplegends. It's 25 years since Public Enemy dropped their debut record Yo! Bum Rush the Show and to mark the anniversary they're currently preparing two new albums, Most Of My Heroes Still Don't Appear On No Stamp and The Evil Empire Of Everything. Here, Chuck D and Flavor Flav tell us about staying politically aware on tour and share their advice for life in typically righteous fashion.
GQ.com: When you're on tour here in Europe are you very aware of the history of the countries you visit?
Chuck D: That's very important. In Belgium, we dedicated "Fight The Power" to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The memory of Patrice Lumumba will not be in vain. You always have to be aware where you're going to when you step into somebody's home. That's the thing that sets us apart as different. We're not the normal rap group.
Do you think young rappers should be more politically conscious?
CD: Everybody can do whatever they've got to do. Younger generations can have a good time or whatever. There's no obligation that they've got to do something, but every party has security. Public Enemy is the security of the hip-hop party.
Flavor Flav said onstage that this is your 81st tour. How do you keep things fresh?
CD: Just travelling the world. Look! He's consumed by that sandwich!
[Flavor Flav walks in eating a ham sandwich bigger than his own head.]
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
CD: There's been plenty of advice. I would say: "Do what you like to do well, so that you can do it for a long time."
Flavor Flav: Best advice that I ever got is to do whatever it takes to make myself happy, so that I'll be able to make others happy. If I'm not happy, I can't make other people happy.
CD: That's what he told me the other day. Trust me. We had a conversation about this.
FF: That's real talk. I'll tell you one thing you can't do: you can't put your shoes on, then your socks on.
[Chuck D starts laughing]
FF: That's what I was taught! I was taught never to be an asshole, because an asshole gets nothing but a good wipe. Do you know what I mean? That's exactly what I teach in America. If you're an asshole, then you're gonna get wiped. If you're in a situation where you're being forced to be an asshole, then you have to change it to make it work for yourself. You get what I'm saying? I love you, baby!
Public Enemy were performing at Heineken Open'er in Poland. Most Of My Heroes Still Don't Appear On No Stamp is out now.
Both Chuck D and Flavor Flav are on Twitter:@MrChuckD and @FlavorFlav
TIME Entertainment(CLICK HERE)
Public Enemy Still Fighting, Still Fresh
By MATT MELIS | July 27, 2012 |
Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp
Artist: Public Enemy
Label: Enemy Records
This post is in partnership with Consequence of Sound, an online music publication devoted to the ever growing and always thriving worldwide music scene.
It's somehow fitting that less than three months after the tragic passing of Beastie Boy Adam "MCA" Yauch, former Def Jam labelmates and fellow old-school hip-hop icons Public Enemy have dropped Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp, their first of two albums slated for 2012 release. On the surface, Beastie Boys and Public Enemy couldn't be more different: rap's Peter Pan pranksters ("fight for your right to party") and the Black Panthers of hip-hop ("party for your right to fight"). But the two acts share the bond of what Public Enemy front man Chuck D calls "the senior circuit"-groups who have avoided trends in hip-hop over the years in favor of building strong, reliable brands as live performers, album droppers, and crews. It's part of the reason why golden age records like Paul's Boutique and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back still spin fresh nearly a quarter-century later. And it's the reason why Most of My Heroes..., rolling with that familiar PE style (from crosshairs logo and sloganeering cover art to aggressive beats and social commentary), hits nearly as hard as ever. After all these years, the PSA is still a party.
Regular PE crew Chuck D (a.k.a. The Hard Rhymer), hype man extraordinaire Flavor Flav, and Professor Griff return with several longtime PE producers (Gary G-Wiz, DJ Johnny Juice, CDOC) and a slew of guests (Brother Ali, Bumpy Knuckles, DMC) on Most of My Heroes..., a title that plays off a lyric from Public Enemy's seminal track "Fight the Power" (best remembered as the anthem of Spike Lee's 1989 joint Do the Right Thing). In 2012, the powers Public Enemy set their sights on are society, the corporate world, and all-glitz-no-substance rap game out of touch with common folks struggling to make ends meet. Standout "Catch the Throne"-a polemic against elitism in both hip-hop and society-delivers this dose of perspective with classic PE blaze, Flav echoing and punctuating Chuck's bark on rants "against those standing in mansions/ Spittin' at us from up that higher ground/ Feed the people/ Fight the power/ Fix the poor / But that 1% done shut the door."
Most of this record falls into tried-and-true PE formulas, but there's no dust or rust to be found on the album's top tracks. Public Enemy deliver their signature style with an angst and tenacity typical of men half their age, combined with the wisdom of 25 years in the rap game. Opening track "Run Til It's Dark," a classic PE barnburner, funnels freight train beats and guitar solo interludes into a chaotic, anthemic chorus, shredded by DJ scratches. "Hoovermusic" revamps the rap-rock of New Whirl Odor's harder tracks, Chuck D broadcasting the score ("Tell me why do y'all love it?/ Songs meant to send you to prison/ Bids to influence a million and a half kids") atop buzz-saw guitars and slamming percussion. Funky drums and brass-courtesy of producer Gary G-Wiz-give a bucking, old-school feel to "Get Up Stand Up," the record's best track. Guest vocalist Brother Ali drops an illusive, rapid-fire verse that bobs and weaves, a vocal style that fits like a boxing glove alongside Chuck D's knockout punches and Flav's incessant jabs. "But the mighty PE is what birthed Ali/ So, what you gonna think come after me?" asks Ali in one of several nods to Public Enemy's influence on younger generations.
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Most of My Heroes... does contain a few cuts completely out of left field. The fragmented "I Shall Not Be Moved," a late-night studio experiment between Chuck D and Gary G-Wiz, features Chuck's vitriolic verses partitioned by pauses, asides, and instrumentals and closes repeating the unlikely line "On Wi-Fi got you gaggin' on Gaga." Somehow this track works, despite the fact that it intentionally kills the momentum that most PE songs rely upon. Other surprise cuts aren't as successful. The legendary Darryl "DMC" McDaniels (of Run-DMC fame) trades straightforward verses with Chuck on the slower-tempo "RLTK," but the track fails to find its groove with its foot off the accelerator. Closing numbers "Fassfood" and "WTF?" jettison the group's longstanding frontman/sidekick vocal dynamic, with Chuck and Flav instead sharing equal mic duties. Neither track stacks up to the record's better cuts, but it's hard not to smile as Chuck and Flav each have their say, side-by-side, atop the warm, upbeat (think "He Got Game") arrangement of "WTF?", which Chuck D says might as well stand for "What the Flav?"
(MORE: Sugar's Copper Blue Reissued: 20th Anniversary of Bob Mould's Groundbreaking Album)
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Public Enemy as a hip-hop group. That quarter-century has seen them on top, under fire, and everywhere between. But with new material as hard-hitting as the choice cuts on Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp, old-school hip-hop fans can rest assured that rap's senior circuit is alive and strong. Even without one of Flavor Flav's giant clocks, Public Enemy still know what time it is.
Essential Tracks: "Get Up Stand Up", "Run Til It's Dark"
>USA TODAY(CLICK HERE)