Considering one-hit-wonders are as important to Rock 'n' Roll as artists who release the same album for twenty years, a group like Public Enemy, who made two bonafide classic LPs (one more than GnR and the Sex Pistols!) at a time when they were inventing their music, surely deserve immediate induction. Charges of "not-rock" are silly. Of all the hip-hop groups to share the times and college radio airwaves with the likes of the sleepy R.E.M. and contemporary Christian strains of U2, PE had the closest ties to rock 'n' roll, both in Chuck D's steely baritone and the Bomb Squad's uncompromising beats. And that was before they teamed with Anthrax. (Their use of Slayer was smarter, tho.)
Here are 25 reasons Public Enemy belong in the Hall and, more importantly, deserve your attention.
25) Contract On the World Love Jam: Public Enemy had been in a media sh**storm with some dumb things Professor Griff, their Minister of Information, had to say and so the opening of their Fear of a Black Planet album was the sound of Sly Stone's There's A Riot Goin' On and all the weariness that comes from dealing with a bad trip.
24) Pollywanacraka: Who doesn't love the idea of Chuck D sounding like Isaac Hayes on Quaaludes?
22) Sophisticated B**ch: The Vernon Reid electric guitar part should make some rock 'n' roll people happy! See everyone! Vernon's gone to find his electric guitar! But the song isn't likely to win many kudos for its sentiment, which seem to involve a young lady who the fellas in the band think is gold-digging and only wants to go out with guys with a refined wardrobe and who doesn't speak in street-slang. In other words, she's not interested in anybody in this group. So, it's the Rolling Stones' "Stupid Girl" all over again but different, eh?
21) Revolutionary Generation: Oh, wait, did we say that? No, we meant to say this. Though even here where the gents try to give a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the ladies, they compliment by saying, "Understand it takes a woman to make a stronger man (as we both get strong)." Guys, it might be better to not saying anything at all.
19) How To Kill A Radio Consultant: Does anyone actually listen to commercial radio anymore?
18) Black Is Back: Turns out AC/DC didn't want the riff to "Back In Black" used in this tune, so PE reworked the track to please all parties. The owners of the pentatonic scale will surely now sue AC/DC, right?
17) Long and Whining Road: Chuck D even writes like a rock critic, sometimes. Here he's name dropping Bob Dylan references from Nashville Skyline to "Shelter From The Storm" and even throws a nod to a 13th Floor Elevators tune in there!
15) You're Gonna Get Yours: Never doubt the opening cut on a band's debut album. This kicks it off in style! In a 1987 (?) Oldsmobile '98. Now if a band blows their opener, ignore them. They're idiots.
14) Terminator X To the Edge of Panic: Public Enemy knew the importance of graphic design and they understood a group is a group is a group. Let's put it in a way that won't scare baby-boomers: Chuck D is the lead singer. Flavor Flav is the other singer. Professor Griff must be the bass player because he doesn't appear to be doing anything. And Terminator X is the drummer and/or the guy who owns all the equipment.
12) Burn Hollywood Burn: So, how are those intelligent, educated black couples doing in those Woody Allen movies?
11) 911 Is A Joke: Sorry to disappoint you, Fox News. The song was released in 1990, so it's not about 9-11. It's about the horrible response time in urban neighborhoods when you dial for an emergency.
9) Party For Your Right To Fight: The reason why so many white rock critics liked these guys has something to do with the sheer velocity of the music. I don't think that audience was completely what Chuck D had in mind when he put together this "pro-Black radical mix" and name-checked Newton, Cleaver and Seale (though I do think we were on his mind somewhere). But you sell records to the audience you have and not the one you want.
8) She Watch Channel Zero?!: This is great. The girl here annoys everyone because she doesn't want to watch the Super Bowl and wishes to stick to her soap operas. Everyone has their stories to watch and everyone's a critic.
6) Cold Lampin' With Flavor Flav: Chuck D knew he was blowhard. It's what makes him an effective leader. But he knew the band could use some comic relief. Imagine if U2 or Radiohead had their Ringo? So, just as Peter Criss came out from behind his drums to warble "Beth" for Kiss, Flavor Flav comes out to tell us what time it is without ever telling us the time!
4) Don't Believe The Hype: I remember reading a critic saying when this single came out that PE had to be rock 'n' roll since they complain about rock critics. Sorry to disappoint you Chuck, but the reason radio doesn't play you in the daytime isn't because radio's scared of you in the way you think but because radio never plays anything good during the day. You think we were rolling in Replacements tunes in the 1980s?
2) Fight The Power: The video never did much for me, though it worked better in Do The Right Thingy. I didn't want to see this music actualized. I wanted to imagine it as I heard it. One friend unintentionally gave the song a huge compliment when he criticized it as sounding like two guys arguing while a stereo blasts in another room. Who wouldn't want to hear a record like that?
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