Remembering Rebirth of a Nation
Eleven years ago today, Public Enemy released "Rebirth of a Nation," an aptly titled album that pushed the classic hip hop group to take on new challenges and risks.
"Rebirth of a Nation" saw Public Enemy, one of the pioneers of socially conscious hip hop, combine their talents with fellow rap legend Paris, a Bay Area musician acclaimed for his powerful, politically charged lyrics. The collaboration broke new ground for Public Enemy, as it was the first album in the group's history to be written primarily by someone other than Chuck D. Instead, Paris penned and produced most of the album, infusing the classic Public Enemy sound and message with his own unique perspective and style.
In addition to their extensive collaboration with Paris, the album also featured guest appearances from some of the biggest legends in hip hop, including NWA's MC Ren, The Conscious Daughters, the legendary Kam, NYC duo dead prez, frequent PE collaborator Sister Souljah, and social activist and legendary battle rapper Immortal Technique.
Despite the change behind the scenes, many professional music critics lauded "Rebirth of the Nation" for recapturing the passion and the fire of classic Public Enemy. "The black is back, I'm all in with the noise I bring!," Chuck spits on the opening track of "Rebirth of a Nation," setting the tone for the rest of the album. In his review for AllMusic, critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine praised the mix of old and new on the album, saying "It's hard not to be impressed by a record that sounds like a blast from the past while playing like a news bulletin from today -- not an easy trick to pull off, but Paris and Public Enemy manage it with Rebirth of a Nation." Chuck himself embraced the change in the album's production as a welcome new challenge for the group, and many critics commented that the hip hop veterans sounded especially energized and engaged on this album.
By Michael Lacerna for PublicEnemy.com