Monday, October 7, 2013

Public Enemy - Don't Believe the Hype

Powerful, political and controversial, Public Enemy (PE) helped to re-define rap, transforming it to a 'new school' sound.  However, unlike the gangsta rap acts, PE's lyrics were sophisticated and political, complimenting the strong backing sounds.

Public Enemy came out of Long Island, NY and was led by Chuck D (Carlton Douglas Ridenhour), complimented by sidekick/class clown Flavor Flav (William Drayton) and DJ Terminator X  (Norman Rogers).  The group's entourage included bodyguards who helped the group present a strong, militant image.

While PE's debut LP, 1987's Yo! Bum Rush the Show generated some buzz within the hip hop community, it was their second album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988) that really broke the band.  The aggressive funk/rock backing music seemed to be perfectly paired with Chuck D's words (and Flavor Flav's jokes).  The album would become critically acclaimed and commercially successful, helping to usher in the golden age of new school hip hop.

For the blog, we went with "Don't Believe the Hype" off the group's second album.  I don't believe that the song charted, while the album reached #42.  Of course, PE would go on to have tremendous success in the late 1980's and early 1990's.  While they have taken several breaks over the years, I believe that they are still together as of this writing.

Cool trivia fact:  PE is an official one hit wonder, as only 1994's "Give It Up" (#33) broke the top 40.

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