Today's Artists are arguably one of the most critically acclaimed and influential groups of all time, they brought their own brand of politics and sonic innovation into hip-hop in the 80s, and some would say, changed it forever.Their first four albums during the late 1980s and early 1990s were all certified either gold or platinum and were, according to music critic Robert Hilburn in 1998, "the most acclaimed body of work ever by a hip hop act ...... N Joy
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Public Enemy rewrote the rules of hip-hop, becoming the most influential and controversial rap group of the late '80s and, for many, the definitive rap group of all time. Building from Run-D.M.C.'s street-oriented beats and Boogie Down Productions' proto-gangsta rhyming, Public Enemy pioneered a variation of hardcore rap that was musically and politically revolutionary. With his powerful, authoritative baritone, lead rapper Chuck D rhymed about all kinds of social problems, particularly those plaguing the black community, often condoning revolutionary tactics and social activism. In the process, he directed hip-hop toward an explicitly self-aware, pro-black consciousness that became the culture's signature throughout the next decade. While Public Enemy's early Def Jam albums, produced with the Bomb Squad, earned them a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they continued to release relevant material up to and beyond their 2013 induction.
Musically, Public Enemy were just as revolutionary, as their production team, the Bomb Squad, created dense soundscapes that relied on avant-garde cut-and-paste techniques, unrecognizable samples, piercing sirens, relentless beats, and deep funk. It was chaotic and invigorating music, made all the more intoxicating by Chuck D's forceful vocals and the absurdist raps of his comic foil, Flavor Flav. With his comic sunglasses and an oversized clock hanging from his neck, Flav became the group's visual focal point, but he never obscured the music. While rap and rock critics embraced the group's late-'80s and early-'90s records, Public Enemy frequently ran into controversy with their militant stance and lyrics, especially after their 1988 album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back made them into celebrities. After all the controversy settled in the early '90s, once the group entered a hiatus, it became clear that Public Enemy were the most influential and radical band of their time.
Chuck D (born Carlton Ridenhour, August 1, 1960) formed Public Enemy in 1982, as he was studying graphic design at Adelphi University on Long Island. He had been DJ'ing at the student radio station WBAU, where he met Hank Shocklee and Bill Stephney. All three shared a love of hip-hop and politics, which made them close friends. Shocklee had been assembling hip-hop demo tapes, and Ridenhour rapped over one song, "Public Enemy No. 1," around the same time he began appearing on Stephney's radio show under the Chuckie D pseudonym. Def Jam co-founder and producer Rick Rubin heard a tape of "Public Enemy No. 1" and immediately courted Ridenhour in hopes of signing him to his fledgling label.
Chuck D initially was reluctant, but he eventually developed a concept for a literally revolutionary hip-hop group -- one that would be driven by sonically extreme productions and socially revolutionary politics. Enlisting Shocklee as his chief producer and Stephney as a publicist, Chuck D formed a crew with DJ Terminator X (born Norman Lee Rogers, August 25, 1966) and fellow Nation of Islam member Professor Griff (born Richard Griffin) as the choreographer of the group's backup dancers, the Security of the First World, who performed homages to old Stax and Motown dancers with their martial moves and fake Uzis. He also asked his old friend William Drayton (born March 16, 1959) to join as a fellow rapper. Drayton developed an alter ego called Flavor Flav, who functioned as a court jester to Chuck D's booming voice and somber rhymes in Public Enemy.
Public Enemy's debut album, Yo! Bum Rush the Show, was released on Def Jam Records in 1987. Its spare beats and powerful rhetoric were acclaimed by hip-hop critics and aficionados, but the record was ignored by the rock and R&B mainstream. However, their second album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, was impossible to ignore. Under Shocklee's direction, PE's production team, the Bomb Squad, developed a dense, chaotic mix that relied as much on found sounds and avant-garde noise as it did on old-school funk. Similarly, Chuck D's rhetoric gained focus and Flavor Flav's raps were wilder and funnier. A Nation of Millions was hailed as revolutionary by both rap and rock critics, and it was -- hip-hop had suddenly become a force for social change. As Public Enemy's profile was raised, they opened themselves up to controversy. In a notorious statement, Chuck D claimed that rap was "the black CNN," relating what was happening in the inner city in a way that mainstream media could not project. Public Enemy's lyrics were naturally dissected in the wake of such a statement, and many critics were uncomfortable with the positive endorsement of black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan on "Bring the Noise." "Fight the Power," Public Enemy's theme for Spike Lee's controversial 1989 film Do the Right Thing, also caused an uproar for its attacks on Elvis Presley and John Wayne, but that was considerably overshadowed by an interview Professor Griff gave The Washington Times that summer. Griff had previously said anti-Semitic remarks on-stage, but his quotation that Jews were responsible for "the majority of the wickedness that goes on across the globe" was greeted with shock and outrage, especially by white critics who previously embraced the group. Faced with a major crisis, Chuck D faltered. First he fired Griff, then brought him back, then broke up the group entirely. Griff gave one more interview where he attacked Chuck D and PE, which led to his permanent departure from the group.
Public Enemy spent the remainder of 1989 preparing their third album, releasing "Welcome to the Terrordome" as its first single in early 1990. Again, the hit single caused controversy as its lyrics "still they got me like Jesus" were labeled anti-Semitic by some quarters. Despite all the controversy, Fear of a Black Planet was released to enthusiastic reviews in the spring of 1990, and it shot into the pop Top Ten as the singles "911 Is a Joke," "Brothers Gonna Work It Out," and "Can't Do Nuttin' for Ya Man" became Top 40 R&B hits. For their next album, 1991's Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black, the group re-recorded "Bring the Noise" with thrash metal band Anthrax, the first sign that the group was trying to consolidate its white audience. Apocalypse 91 was greeted with overwhelmingly positive reviews upon its fall release, and it debuted at number four on the pop charts, but Public Enemy began to lose momentum in 1992 as they toured with the second leg of U2's Zoo TV tour and Flavor Flav was repeatedly in trouble with the law. In the fall of 1992, they released the remix collection Greatest Misses as an attempt to keep their name viable, but it was greeted to nasty reviews.
Public Enemy were on hiatus during 1993, as Flav attempted to wean himself off drugs, returning in the summer of 1994 with Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age. Prior to its release, it was subjected to exceedingly negative reviews in Rolling Stone and The Source, which affected the perception of the album considerably. Muse Sick debuted at number 14, but it quickly fell off the charts as it failed to generate any singles. Chuck D retired Public Enemy from touring in 1995 as he severed ties with Def Jam, developed his own record label and publishing company, and attempted to rethink Public Enemy. In 1996, he released his first debut album, The Autobiography of Mistachuck. As it was released in the fall, he announced that he planned to record a new Public Enemy album the following year.
Before that record was made, Chuck D published an autobiography in the fall of 1997. During 1997, Chuck D reassembled the original Bomb Squad and began work on three albums. In the spring of 1998, Public Enemy kicked off their major comeback with their soundtrack to Spike Lee's He Got Game, which was played more like a proper album than a soundtrack. Upon its April 1998 release, the record received the strongest reviews of any Public Enemy album since Apocalypse '91...The Enemy Strikes Black. After Def Jam refused to help Chuck D's attempts to bring PE's music straight to the masses via the Internet, he signed the group to the web-savvy independent Atomic Pop. Before the retail release of Public Enemy's seventh LP, There's a Poison Goin' On..., the label made MP3 files of the album available on the Internet. It finally appeared in stores in July 1999.
After a three-year break from recording and a switch to the In the Paint label, Public Enemy released Revolverlution, a mix of new tracks, remixes, and live cuts. The CD/DVD combo It Takes a Nation appeared in 2005. The multimedia package contained an hour-long video of the band live in London in 1987 and a CD with rare remixes. The studio album New Whirl Odor also appeared in 2005. The "special projects" album Rebirth of a Nation -- an album with all rhymes written by Bay Area rapper Paris -- was supposed to be released right along with it, but didn't appear until early the next year. The odds-and-ends collection Beats and Places appeared before the end of 2006.
In 2007, the group released an album entitled How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul?. Public Enemy's single from the album was "Harder Than You Think". Four years after How You Sell Soul ... , in January 2011, Public Enemy released the album Beats and Places, a compilation of remixes and "lost" tracks. On July 13, 2012, Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp was released and was exclusively available on iTunes. In July 2012, on UK television an advert for the London 2012 Summer Paralympics featured a short remix of the song "Harder Than You Think". The advert caused the song to reach No. 4[ in the UK Singles Chart on September 2, 2012. On July 30, 2012, Public Enemy performed a free concert with Salt-N-Pepa and Kid 'n Play at Wingate Park in Brooklyn, New York as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series. On August 26, 2012, Public Enemy performed at South West Four music festival in Clapham Common in London. On October 1, 2012 The Evil Empire of Everything was released. On June 29, 2013, they performed at Glastonbury Festival 2013. On September 14, 2013 they performed at Riot Fest & Carnival 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. On September 20, 2013 they performed at Riot Fest & Side Show in Byers, Colorado.
In 2014 Chuck D launched PE 2.0 with Oakland rapper Jahi as a spiritual successor and "next generation" of Public Enemy. Jahi met Chuck D backstage during a soundcheck at the 1999 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and later appeared as a support act on Public Enemy's 20th Anniversary Tour in 2007. PE 2.0's task is twofold, Jahi says, to "take select songs from the PE catalog and cover or revisit them" as well as new material with members of the original Public Enemy including DJ Lord, Davy DMX, Professor Griff and Chuck D. PE 2.0's first album People Get Ready was released on October 7, 2014. InsPirEd PE 2.0's second album and part two of a proposed trilogy was released a year later on October 11, 2015. Man Plans God Laughs, Public Enemy's thirteenth album, was released in July 2015. On June 29, 2017, Public Enemy released their fourteenth album, Nothing Is Quick in the Desert. The album was available for free download through Bandcamp until July 4, 2017
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Appropriately for the only hip-hop group that's been active for 20 years, cutting records and touring during that entire time, Public Enemy has a long memory. Long enough to be self-referential, as the title of their 2006 Paris collaboration Rebirth of a Nation suggested, but 2007's How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul??? bubbles over with references to their past: the title alone is an elliptical throwback to "Who Stole the Soul" on Fear of a Black Planet, but there are scores of musical nods to their past here, from the heavy metal shred on "Black Is Back" to how "Between Hard and Rock Place" plays like one of the bridges on Fear of a Black Planet, or the It Takes a Nation of Millions samples on "Can You Hear Me Now." Far from being recycled, these quotes and allusions provide a history that Public Enemy builds upon here, either in the beats or the words. The indictment of gangsta rap on "Sex, Drugs & Violence" or the materialism on "Can You Hear Me Now" carry a greater weight because their past is reflected within the music, offering a reminder of how things have changed in 20 years. Smartly, Public Enemy never tries to run from their middle age, but this isn't stilted like New Whirl Odor. They subtly yet sharply change the productions, expanding their signature dense soundscapes and sometimes departing from it as well, as in the hardcore gangsta of "Amerikan Gangster." Even if it hardly sounds like hip-hop that reaches the charts in 2007, this is ferocious and vital as music, while Chuck D remains one of the greatest lyricists in either rap or pop, as well as one of the more incisive political commentators. And in this context, Flavor Flav loses any of the cartoonish trappings his endless VH1 reality shows have given him, and remains a potent source of comic relief. In that sense, Public Enemy is the same as they ever were, but what's remarkable about How You Sell is how PE grows and matures without abandoning their core identity, proving that it's possible to age as a rap group without turning into an embarrassment. And even if PE doesn't pack the same kind of commercial punch as it used to, it's hard to call an album this spirited and alive irrelevant.
Public Enemy - How You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul (flac 439mb)
01 How You Sell Soul to a Souless People Who Sold Their Soul? 2:36
02 Black Is Back 2:42
03 Harder Than You Think 4:09
04 Between Hard & a Rock Place 0:59
05 Sex, Drugs & Violence feat. KRS-One 3:35
06 Amerikan Gangster feat. E.Infinite 4:03
07 Can You Hear Me Now 3:58
08 Head Wide Shut 1:31
09 Flavor Man 3:44
10 The Enemy Battle Hymn of the Public 3:23
11 Escapism 4:53
12 Frankenstar 3:23
13 Col-Leepin 3:58
14 Radiation of a Radiotvmovie Nation 1:10
15 See Something, Say Something 3:46
16 Long & Whining Road 4:24
17 Bridge of Pain 3:07
18 Eve of Destruction 4:15
19 How You Sell Soul (Time Is God Refrain) 2:31
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Its title hearkens back to a line in Public Enemy's incendiary 1989 anthem "Fight the Power," recalling the band's glory days but cutting deeper, exposing an ugly truth: 20-plus years and a black president in the White House later, things still haven't changed all that much in America. That lingering inequality nags at Chuck D throughout Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear On No Stamp, PE's twelfth album and their first released after the election of Barack Obama, a development that would perhaps seem to the casual observer a vindication of everything Public Enemy represents -- famously, the Obamas' first date was at a showing of Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing where "Fight the Power" plays a crucial role -- but Public Enemy seems angrier than ever here. And deservedly so, as so much of what PE stands for -- sonically, politically, culturally -- is submerged in 2012, obscured by a marginalization of radicalization and imagination. Public Enemy fights against the dying light of Black Power and counterculture throughout Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear On No Stamp, the phrase not only providing a title but a motif (it appears repeatedly throughout the record's 11 songs), the band deliberately evoking their past by sampling earlier records and tossing off allusions to older lyrics, staying true to the template created by the Bomb Squad in the late '80s yet avoiding a meticulous re-creation of that sonic onslaught. The music here isn't as dense as It Takes a Nation of Millions or Fear of a Black Planet -- it's nimble and spare, a steely reduction of the J.B.'s relentless groove, augmented by cacophonic flourishes of guitar and white noise. It's all the better to push the spotlight onto Chuck D, who is in full-blown preacher/teacher mode here, intent on tying the past into the present and doing a pretty effective job, too. Chuck doesn't much care if he comes across as an indignant professor here, and that's part of the charm of not just this, but all latter-day Public Enemy: this is the sound of true believers who give not a damn about fashion, they remain true to the sounds and sensibilities they laid out back in the late '80s. And the music remains vital and vibrant, possibly because, despite some progress, things still haven't changed all that much and, in some respects, have gotten worse...and as long as Public Enemy's heroes remain consigned to the margins, they'll still make music as dynamic as this.
Public Enemy - Most Of My Heroes Still Don't Appear On No Stamp (flac 340mb)
01 Run Til It's Dark 3:18
02 Get Up, Stand Up 5:03
03 Most Of My Heroes Still... 3:31
04 I Shall Not Be Moved 5:23
05 Get It In 3:09
06 Hoover Music 3:58
07 Catch The Thrown 4:26
08 RLTK 4:38
09 Truth Decay 4:11
10 FassFood 4:03
11 WTF? 6:22
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Arriving just a few months after Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp, Public Enemy's The Evil Empire of Everything is a decidedly different album than their other 2012 album. It's leaner and harder, stripped down to its hard, unbreakable basics, Public Enemy honing their politics and music so Evil Empire of Everything has a precise, steely glint. There is no hiding Chuck D's anger at the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin, not when the album opens with 911 calls where black teenagers are held under suspicion for the color of their skin, and not when there's a centerpiece called "Beyond Trayvon," but for as hard as these songs hit, what's striking about Evil Empire of Everything is its music. Despite some prominent guests -- Ziggy Marley shows up on "Don't Give Up the Fight" and Tom Morello ladles guitar over "Riotstarted" -- Public Enemy make clear, conscious connections between their music and classic '60s soul, most notably on the slow-burning "Everything" (featuring vocals by Gerald Albright and Sheila Brody), where Chuck D's testifying sounds straight from the roster of Stax, but also on the hard funk of "Notice" or the blaring horns of "Say It Like It Really Is." This is how a hip-hop group reaches middle age: by placing themselves as part of a tradition, never lingering in the past but never desperately riding trends.
Public Enemy - The Evil Empire of Everything (flac 357mb)
01 The Evil Empire Of 1:52
02 Don't Give Up The Fight 3:47
03 1 (Peace) 2:46
04 2 (Respect) :09
05 Beyond Trayvon 4:29
06 Everything 4:11
07 31 Flavors 3:09
08 Riotstarted 3:27
09 Notice (Know This) 2:14
10 Icebreaker 7:14
11 Fame 4:49
12 Broke Diva 3:12
13 Say It Like It Really Is 6:23
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The first generation of rockers who grew up in public faced their share of ridicule, a fact that does not escape Chuck D. A keen observer of history who also possesses a sly sense of humor, he raps over a sample of the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women" on Man Plans God Laughs, Public Enemy's 13th album. Like the Stones, PE have been around so long and their influence has been so thoroughly absorbed into the culture that it's easy to take them for granted, but where Mick & Keith played arenas, Public Enemy consciously shrugged off the majors and remained fierce insurrectionists, existing just under the radar. By the end of the 2000s, they may not have been regulars in mainstream music publications, but they still had underground hits, such as "Harder Than You Think," which surprisingly became the group's biggest-ever British hit in 2007. PE brings back that track's producer, Gary "G-Wiz" Rinaldo, to produce the entirety of Man Plans God Laughs, and he helps Chuck D create a hard, furious flash of a record that deliberately leans on Public Enemy's history while keeping a steely eye on the present. All the self-allusions -- samples from Nation of Millions, lyrical callbacks, horn stabs straight out of the Bomb Squad -- aren't a way to revive the past but rather to provide a context: this isn't music that came from nowhere, it is tied to history as well as the future. This is the worldview of a group that feels the weight of its years yet is unashamed -- Chuck admits at the outset that he's 55 -- and this sensibility lends gravitas to an album that's just shy of a half-hour. At this length, Man Plans God Laughs speeds by, but it also leaves a heavy imprint, both as politics -- it's a fierce, unflinching snapshot of the ravages of institutional racism, late capitalism, and cultural conformity in 2015 -- but also as music. Early Public Enemy was formatively innovative, but on this latter-day record PE explore and deepen that signature not unlike master jazzmen -- or the Stones, for that matter -- and that's not only worthy of an album, it's groundbreaking in terms of hip-hop.
Public Enemy - Man Plans God Laughs (flac 226mb)
01 No Sympathy From The Devil 2:50
02 Me To We 2:15
03 Man Plans God Laughs 2:04
04 Give Peace A Damn 3:01
05 Those Who Know, Know Who 2:11
06 Honky Talk Rules 3:48
07 Mine Again 2:12
08 Lost In Space Music 2:26
09 Corplantationopoly 2:27
10 Earthizen 2:27
11 Praise The Loud 2:14
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