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PUBLIC ENEMY

A group of rappers and DJ's influenced by Black nationalism and underground New York, Public Enemy sparked an incredible hip-hop revolution.

Their name's a jab at Richard Nixon, who incorrectly called drug abuse "public enemy number one".


Public Enemy are the second hip-hop generation, building on proto-gangsta rap with darker, more conscious lyricism. Together they're Chuck D, Flava Flav, Professor Griff and formerly Terminator X.

Chuck D came from an activist family who stressed pro-Black education and educating others.

Public Enemy wove Black Nationalism's core teachings into every album they produced. Professor Griff used the Nation of Islam and Farrakhan for inspiration.

 The four met in Adelphi University early 1980's. DJ Shocklee (rap radio pioneer) mixed records live on-air as Chuck and Bill Stephney rapped over them.

They combined young Black aggression with political catalysts in their lyrics. Public Enemy's fusion provoked a direct conversation with America's real gangsters.

 

But more importantly, it sparked a wave of consciousness. Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine said so himself.

"Can music change the world? Of course it can. It does every day. Music changed me.

It was the music of Public Enemy and the Clash...that made me feel less alone in my worldview. Harmonizing and hell-raising, poetry and politics, singing and striking, rhythm and rebellion.

The message was a simple one:  “The world ain’t gonna change itself. That’s up to you.”" (LA Times)

Axl Rose felt the same way about Public Enemy, see for yourself.

Their music set a precedent you can track in hip-hop today. Chuck D is very involved in community activism. He's also close with Farrakhan.

Public Enemy and the spiritual leader have a unique working relationship. Their raps feature Farrakhan's message of radical Black Americans as U.S. imperialism's Public Enemy #1.

"Philosophers in the past said as the Govt wrote the laws, the rebels chose to write the songs."

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