For those who grew up in the 1980s, Public Enemy was one of a handful of nationally-known hip-hop acts that created socially-conscious rap almost exclusively. From “Don’t Believe The Hype” to “Fight The Power” (from Spike Lee‘s still-all-too-relevant movie about racism and police brutality Do The Right Thing) to “By The Time I Get To Arizona”, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Terminator X and the crew were on the forefront of calling out media manipulation, systemic racism and bigotry, and the widespread mistreatment of black people in America.
Now, over 30 years after they’ve formed and three years since their last album, Public Enemy has released Man Plans God Laughs, offering much-needed and necessary protest music once again. The video for the single “No Sympathy From The Devil” was just released today, and it packs a chilling punch. It ties historical acts of racism with the racism of today – and so much of it looks the same (at the 1:56 mark, Sandra Bland‘s mug shot appears and has the effect of a gut punch).
The entire album, which was released a few weeks ago on July 15, can be heard on Spotify:
The greatest hip-hop album ever was made 25 years ago this month. Its title alone speaks volumes: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. At the time, it was a metaphor for African-American people, a nod to the systemic racism plaguing America, but for others, it also represented the uphill battle Public Enemy faced.
The album was crafted at a time, 1988, when hip-hop had no boundaries and every landmark album was groundbreaking. But Public Enemy broke ground that went clear through to the other side of the world when they made It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. The album is what we call a Magnum Opus (Latin for ‘great work’).
PE’s second album, It Takes A Nation boasts one of the slickest intros, but it forecasted what was to come — world domination. It Takes A Nation kicks off from a recording in London, while the Long-Island-born group toured the world on the 1987 Def Jam tour. They were informing America that they had already been approved by the world and now it was America’s turn.
Of course, hardcore hip-hop heads had already embraced their first album, Yo! Bum Rush The Show, but this was special.