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TERRORDOME
Songs That Mean Something
March 1st, 2012

This month, I was honored to induct the Beastie Boys into the 2012
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As I sat in the audience beforehand, I
was fortunate to be at a table with legendary singer songwriter Carole
King. Across from me, seated at the same table, was the equally
incredible songwriting singing giant Mr Smokey Robinson. The Kirshner
family, whose patriarch Don Kirshner made history in the publishing
business with many great songs, were also seated with me. Awestruck as
I was honored to present the Beastie Boys induction as a benchmark
moment of the genre of rap, I was incredibly gratified to just be
seated, soaking in the magnitude of those around me, from Berry Gordy
on my left to John Mellencamp to my right. It was in that moment that
I realized why the Beastie Boys requested that I be the one to induct
them.

The Beasties brought Public Enemy out on our first tour in the spring
of 1987, and they were also instrumental in delivering our music to
Rick Rubin of Def Jam with Jammaster Jay. They had long given me
proper respect for my commitment to the craft, something I try to
honor by putting my full consciousness into a song, because it
inspires artists and audiences to look beyond the gimmick of industry
hits into a world of technical expertise and qualitative meaning. The
Beasties themselves had transcended their 1986 frat rap explosion of
License to Ill into great crafts-persons. It's why we were all in
Cleveland that night, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I was raised
listening to artists, singers, and songwriters played on my parents'
record player, and all who wrote or heard them swore by the words
written in their music. Their words echoed through my childhood home
as I grew up listening to them like like an invisible group of aunts
and uncles.

In post-disco R&B ( Ronald Reagan and George H.W Bush ) 1980s, the era
required a bit more commentary than just body rocking the party.
Blackfolk were not on television much and only a select few of us were
invited into Hollyweird. The news was tragically one sided as the
world of musical artists and their respective DJs and VJs became
increasingly transparent. RAP music and HipHop seemed to be saying and
showing it Like it really was, political message or none. Like the
late Gil Scott Heron stated, 'life was politic anyway everyday.' In
1982 Melle Mel and Duke Bootee of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5
created a standard in RAP music by linking it with the news and voices
of the Black past and present. This record, aptly named The Message,
inspired recognition both within rap and OF rap music.

Then came a slew of RAP songs that meant something in the early to
mid 80s.The moved minds and the crowd. From the early How We Gonna
Make The Black Nation Rise from BROTHER D, iMHOTEP GARY BYRDs The
Crown, and post-MESSAGE gems like Street Justice by The RAKE, It's
Like That, Hard Times and my good friend Andre "Doctor Dre" Brown
written inspired Proud To Be Black for and by RUN DMC, DIVINE SOUNDS'
What People Do For Money, to Stetsasonics A.F.R.I.C.A, rap music
filled some critical informational and inspirational voids in this
decade.

By the time I signed with Rick Rubin and Russell Simmon at DEF JAM in
1986, Hank Shocklee, Bill Stephney and I KNEW that a rap song had the
ability to change the earth for the better, not unlike the impact of
music by Curtis MAYFIELD, JAMES BROWN, NINA SIMONE, THE CLASH and PETE
SEEGER. We didn't create this particular style, we just totally
believed in it. WE believed that beyond the streets lies the reason
for how and why the streets are influenced, and we knew this was not
always a good influence. For example, we know that today, "beyond the
streets," especially for many youth of color, lie the ever-waiting,
booming businesses of jail and death. We wanted to expose masses of
youth, especially, to the good and to the peril of what was expected
of them. This is why we started Public Enemy.

The 'golden era of hip hop and rap from 1986-1993 witnessed a solid
sequence of great artists, who tried to follow what so many of the
artists I mentioned above had done. These people are incredible
artists, and many are also my friends and peers. There wasn't any
commercialized or created animosity for the sake of profit, like we
see now; folks like MC LYTE, DOUG E FRESH, KRS ONE, A TRIBE CALLED
QUEST, DE LA SOUL, QUEEN LATIFAH, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, ERIC B AND
RAKIM, PARIS, BRAND NUBIAN - and the list goes on to the breaka dawn -
so many artists created 'gotcha back, looking out, love music for the
people. Even my "hardcore" or more street-science allies realized that
beyond their contractual obligations of song delivery and getting
paid, hey had to drop that one obligatory love song of consciousness
for the hood. ICE T, ICE CUBE and TOO SHORT are examples of this
especially SHORT's The GHETTO which ranks one of my favorite of all time.

This standard is still powerful all over the earth, in many different
languages, yet with the unifying vibe of emitting necessary consciousness.
Having been to 80 countries in the name of rap, I'm here to tell it.
Like the Bobs of Marley, Dylan, and even Bobby Womack, a song can
change the world for the betterment of it. Public Enemy songs, usually
written from the title forward, attempt to reflect the power of change
from the very first word, projecting heavyweight titles that allow a
mind to open to their meaning, to travel up down and around it. We try
to have the titles alone speak for themselves. Songs like FIGHT THE
POWER, BROTHERS GONNA WORK IT OUT, 911 IS A JOKE, GIVE THE PEEPS WHAT
THEY NEED, and album titles such as FEAR OF A BLACK PLANET, THERE'S A
POISON GOIN' ON, and our most recent two albums, due out within months
of this writing: MOST OF MY HEROES STILL DONT APPEAR ON NO STAMP and
THE EVIL EMPIRE OF EVERYTHING