Never had there been a voice strong enough to bridge the gap between black militant activists and piss-drunk frat boys until these cats rocked the hizzy.
The name should be well known by now. Hell, you would have to be almost completely socially retarded to have not at least HEARD of P.E. Their story is as convoluted as it is awesome. Let's go back to where it all began, in a little known wilderness called Long Island, NY.
In the early 80's, there were no hip-hop artists with a total political agenda. MC's like Ice-T, Kool Moe Dee, and Grandmaster Flash flirted with the notion, but left it largely alone. Enter Chuck D and Flavor Flav, relatively unknown outside their own scene. As fortune would have it, they were signed to Def Jam Records in 1986 by Rick "Which Is Bigger, My Ego or Beard?" Rubin based solely on the strength of a single given to him by Dr. Dre of Yo MTV Raps (you know, the REAAAAAAAALY fat one)..
Chuck D then recruited Spectrum City members Hank and Keith Shocklee, and Eric "Vietnam" Sadler to the fold, where they were re-christened The Bomb Squad. Adding also Professor Griff, Flavor Flav, and DJ Terminator X; Public Enemy was thus born!
Yo! Bum Rush The USA
After a successful foray along the East Coast opening for meathead punkers-turned- meathead B-Boys, the Beastie Boys, P.E. headed into the studio to record their critically acclaimed debut Yo! Bum Rush the Show album in 1987, and headed out on their first headlining tour in support of it. Audiences worldwide were seeing something special, and I don't mean "Corky from Life Goes On" special.
Nobody had ever seen a group with such highly charged political statements, least of all statements capable of shaking white America from it's complacency.
It Takes A Nation...
"Loud, obnoxious, funky, avant-garde, political, uncompromising, hilarious; Public Enemy's brilliant second album is all of these things and, on nearly every track, all at once," Rolling Stone said about 1988's It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. P.E. was starting to make waves with hip-hop's elite as well as in the underground. The album could be heard on college campuses and radio throughout the United States. For the first time, black power activists stood shoulder-to-shoulder with muscleheaded white douchebags who insist on calling you 'brah'.
It was at this time when the Enemy was first accused of having a "racialist, anti-Semitic" stance, an accusation that would eventually lead to the ouster of Professor Griff, and along with him, his S1W (Security of the First World). The hoopla died down none too quick, and the inclusion of the track "Fight The Power" in Spike Lee's 1989 film Do The Right Thing garnered them more accolades with the public and in the media. The film was a masterpiece of dogshit-like proportion, but the track propelled them into the mainstream.
Black Planet Explosion!!!
The time was ripe for the release of 1990's Fear Of A Black Planet, their most heralded record to date. The album pushed 5 singles, including "Fight The Power" and "Welcome To The Terrordome," a comment on their recent racial ugliness. Ironically, the track would lead to a further backlash for anti-Semitism. Like black lyrical geniuses have nothing better to talk shit about than a race of people more fucked and persecuted than THEY have been. The race hype again failed to overwhelm them and they entered the Billboard Top 10 and received a Grammy nomination. The troop was riding high.
Unfortunately, it wasn't to last. The release of Apocaypse '91: The Enemy Strikes Black, although well received by the critics, suffered a loss of momentum in the charts. The track "Bring Tha Noize," a re-tooling of the original with New York poodleheads Anthrax, was the highest plateau the group would ever reach. The album produced other singles, but ultimately failed to gain any steam.
Unfairly perhaps, critics panned their next two efforts, 1992's remix album Greatest Misses, and 1994's Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age. The continual legal and drug troubles of Flavor Flav was also a crushing blow to their productivity and spirit. The Flav? On DRUGS!?!? But he seems so well adjusted!!!. Terminator X and Hank Shocklee both left the group at this time, further destroying their hype and dope-ass beats.
Still, not one to be broken, Chuck D struggled through the tribulations and began his own record label and arranged a well-received tour with metal titans Anthrax. There was little else shaking in Public Enemy's camp. That is until they received a call from Spike Lee in 1997.
1998 saw the release of the new Spike Lee joint "He Got Game," a film featuring a soundtrack by a renewed and reinvigorated Public Enemy. The original members all returned for the outing, resulting in the soundtrack reaching #26 on Billboard's Top 100. It would appear that Public Enemy once again had wind in their sails. Their renewed collaboration saw the release of 1999's There's A Poison Goin' On to mixed reviews. Chuck D then took a short hiatus from P.E. to write and record with Confrontation Camp, his funk-metal trio. He brought Professor Griff along for the ride.
They returned for 2002's Revolverlution, 2005's New Whirl Odor, 2006's Rebirth of A Nation, and 2007's unwieldy-titled How You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul? The first decade of the new millenium has been a flash-bang of creativity for the group, including Flavor Flav's ass-tastic misadventures on VH-1's The Surreal Life and MTV's Flavor of Love, which will cement always his place in the Crackhead Hall of Fame.
Apparently, God already used Photoshop on this image...