Public Enemy off the Charts
I have learned that "Rebel without a Pause" is part of the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto: Sand Andreas, an addictive video game widely noted for racial stereotyping (the player's character is a Black man and the objective is committing brutal crimes).
I wrote the review in Fall 2006, but "my computer ate it"…really. However, most of my thesis is much better conveyed in a blog entry entitled The Political Significance of the Flavor of Love.
I was motivated to write this blog (and to post the link to Jenifer's blog above) because Public Enemy once spoke to me. Their lyrics prodded me to do more than listen and love music. Sometimes they still do. A few years ago, Solidarity bought copies of their single Make Love, F*ck War (2004 "power to the people, 'cause the people want peace.") and played it at anti-war events.
But since 1991 Public Enemy has continued a decline from a chart topping political hip hop group to obscurity. No album since the 1998 soundtrack to Spike Lee's He Got Game has even hit the Billboard charts. They can still occasionally drop a track that will rekindle fire in the heart of a revolutionary. But their tired lyrics and mediocre beats don't speak to the youth.
Flavor of Love: turn off that bullshit!
Capitalism makes a fool of our heroes. Once proof that a hip hop act could drop science without selling out, Public Enemy is now content to preach to the already converted thought their internet releases and college radio play. In turn, we all- Chuck, Flav, you, me, the movements- suffer from their self-imposed isolation. Media corporations have enormous power. The industry that Chuck D decided to take on "turn off the radio...turn off that bullshit"... "burn Hollywood, burn!" have power over placement and distribution and even music reviews. Meanwhile, Flava Flav drank the Kool Aid and has moved from the hype man of a leading force for social change to a leading minstrel in the television world of failed human relationships.
Later this year, Public Enemy- together with Louis Armstrong and Count Basie will be inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. Oh, did I say they were also admitting Mariah Carey?