When rap music was starting to make its way into the mainstream media Public Enemy was a perfectly named group. PE has been around since the early 80s but they didn’t release their first fist raised album until 1987, it was titled “Yo! Bum Rush The Show”. Chuck D, the “D” stands for dangerous and Flavor Flav are the main voices in Public Enemy. Other members such as Professor Griff and DJ Lord are often seen behind Chuck and Flav.
Their approach to rap music is based on the prejudices that they witnessed growing up in Long Island, New York. Always politically charged and never bowing from a lyrical fight, many mainstream media people saw Public Enemy as a voice that needed to be shut down. Although they spoke without censorship about African-American issues they were often branded as uninformed and uneducated soap box speakers.
Most of the people who began listening to PE were white kids who lived in the suburbs and didn’t understand what inner city life was like. That CD was their safe ticket into a world that was only reported on when the nightly news needed to make an example of crime and how it was destroying the fabric of our society.
Instead of glamorizing how great life was for Chuck D and Flavor Flav PE wrote about how hard it was to rise above the labels that were stuck on them. Since no political shows would ever give them a mic they decided to let people know through their music. As gritty as some people might say it was, it was still the truth.
Despite their parents advisory stickered CDs coming out every couple of years the music that Public Enemy created was pure rap. Songs such as “911 Is A Joke” told about how the response time for emergencies in black communities was longer than that in a white community were factually based. The song “Fight The Power” spoke about how the heroes of a white community were not the same for a black community. The song had very controversial lyrics but once you got past the initial shock the true meaning was clear.
There has been some controversy within the group; Professor Griff made some statements early on that the rest of the group did not agree with so he was fired. They have been accused of homophobic remarks as well. Their combination of rap and musical beats led the way for hip-hop music as we know it today. They also ventured into heavy metal with the group Anthrax and combined their hit “Fight The Power” and created rap metal.
The Bomb Squad that contained members of Public Enemy was responsible for producing acts such as Bell Biv DeVoe, Ice Cube, Paula Abdul, EPMD and L.L. Cool J. Their connection with MCA Records gave them a chance to produce new talent while working on their own music. Public Enemy recently released a disc in 2007 titled “How You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Souls?” it marks the 20th anniversary of their first release.