Public Enemy was THE game changer.

Revolutionary.  PE was the game changer. 
They ushered in a new movement of rap music that was challenging to your mind, political, questioning of authority, questioning of our current state of mentally.  It was the large question of, ‘okay, life’s a bitch – but what are you doing about it?’  It was a cry for activism.  What made it work though was, even with all the subliminal and blunt messaging Chuck D voiced and Flava Flav undermined, the king and the joker, it was not preachy.  Within the Shocklee brothers kaleidoscope of beats and Terminator X slicing, cutting and scratching over them respectively, all chopped up in a blender mix of rock, funk, odd ball sound effects assaulting your senses!  Oddly, it worked, you could get down to P.E., dance, rock your jeep, play in your walkmans and jammed.  Conscious lyrics worked with a hot soundtrack, you had no need to dumb down your message to appeal to the masses, it was incredible!  One wonders how that concept got lost in post-P.E. heyday?  Hip-hop to that point had its disco/funk side with the most political being Grandmaster Melle Mel with the Message, you had the harder side with Run-DMC dominating the charts with a then young LL cool J popping off at the lip to great success.  Eric B & Rakim and Beastie Boys dominated in 87 when crazy, squealing, obnoxious noises blasted from boomboxes with PE’s ‘Rebel Without a Pause’.  It was sick.  I couldn’t even listen to it at the time and avoided their first CD ‘Yo, Bum Rush The Show’ as Black Panther Thugs, being middle American suburban/small town black – their concept was out of my comfort zone.  P.E. was like a harsh bitter beer, they hit hard making you want to puke on first sips, but got easier to digest after you got curious and tried again.  I was more open to them after visiting Times Square in NYC and buying fresh copies of De La Soul, Slick Rick and Boogie Down Productions.  KRS was blending gangsta with militant but his banging Scott LA Rock production was more straight forward such as R.DMC and E & R which made him easier to digest.  “Bass, how low can you go, Def Row, what a brother knows, once again back is the incredible…”  Starting with those words, ‘Bring the Noise’ was the epitome of black dynamic.  I like how another reviewer stated “Chuck D’s deep voice sounded like ‘the voice of God’.”  Chuck D boomed out of your speakers dripped with such authority as an Army sergeant cussing you out, or your pissed off father about to whup your ass with a belt, you HAD to listen!  ‘Bring the Noise’ ironically was the hook line and sinker that pulled me into their noise, fully committed to their blend of mayhem.  At one point I could rap that song with Chuck word for word.  It elevated the standards for hip-hop and music in general and with the Anthrax remix a year later, that cemented them as rap Gods.  “Night of the living Bassheads’ was classic, placing you in the blurry vision of drug indicted zombies on our streets.   Their music was rap-rock with its samples of guitars and screeches all combined in one.  They definitely was ground – breaking which many artists today can’t even compete with, gangsta rap, even the great and late 2Pac (Pac was good but not great with his sporadic political mindedness, dwelling in more vengeful gangsta delights or juvenile craziness.) paled in their retroactive messages years later.  Only N.W.A. and Ice Cube early work came close to having such a political force from the streets. Conventional gangsta rap affectiono’s don’t get it, P.E. and BDP and Rakim’s messages were 10x harder, but unfortunately went over most heads.  I wore ‘Millions’ out song for song, beat for beat.  I played them constantly on my college radio shows and when I hosted parties.  P.E. went where I went.  ‘Millions’ is on my list of top 10 life-changing albums of all time which I blogged about previously.   Ironically, I went backwards and started jamming ‘Yo, Bum rush the Show’ right before ‘Feat of a Black Planet’ dropped.  I met Chuck and Flava a few years later, after a Cincinnati show where my mutual friends Bonnie & Clyde opened for them.  Like an excited groupie I wanted to express my thanks to Chuck for opening my eyes to political disparagement, activism, power of thought, I wanted to share our common love of broadcasting, art and good vibes.  Unfortunately he was tired and grabbed his nightcap and quickly ditched me to the confines of his room.  Bummer, even though I had chilled with other greats such as LL, Queen Latifah, MC Search, De La Soul, Digable Planets, Naughty By Nature, Aaliyah, Masta Ace and others with no issues, it was Chuck who I wanted to have a beer with and discuss worldwide politics and the state of hip-hop.  In true gentleman fashion, bumming out a hotel bench, Flava Flav joined me to talk about life and shared a drink with me.  Crazy as that man is, and as much flack as he gets, he’s a true homie.  And this was after he got his sneakers stolen at the concert!   Without ‘Millions’, that all wouldn’t have happened, but it did, and I (and many others) benefited greatly from their contribution.  Keep rockin’ Chuck, ‘Say it How it Really Is’!


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