Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Last year, I included Public Enemy among the artists who I thought should have been voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Actually, I'm not sure they were eligible: I think their first single came out 25 years ago, but their first album didn't come out until 1987, so I think should have been on the ballot next year. To me, Public Enemy are one of those bands, like U2 or The Clash, that should just go to the head of the class and be inducted in my opinion.  They shook the world.

I know some people feel that hip-hop doesn't belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To me, they are heavier than most metal bands, and more punk rock than most punk rockers. They are badass, they have a message, they get black and white folks to rock together.  They are rock and roll.

When their second album, 1988's It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, came out, they were the most badass, scary, in your face band out there, it did not matter that they were using turntables and samplers instead of guitars.

LIke reggae, country music and jazz, hip-hop figures strongly into the fabric of rock and roll. With the possible exception of Run-DMC, no band influenced more rock bands than PE. And none scared your parents the way PE did (not even N.W.A.).

I don't want to make it seem like it is only about that album, though. Their debut, 1987's Yo! Bum Rush The Show is pretty great. Nation's follow-up, 1990's Fear Of A Black Planet, is also a classic. And the next year's Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black, is the most underrated albums ever. And speaking of underrated, their 2005 album New Whirl Odor had some great songs (particularly the collaboration with Moby, "MKLVFKWR"). At it was criminal that more people didn't hear their latest album, 2007's How Do You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul? 

Chuck D and Flavor Flav may not have been the best MCs - they would probably admit that Rakim and KRS-One were better - but the entire unit of Public Enemy had a power that no one else had.  They toured with Anthrax, with U2, with Sisters Of Mercy. I don't know any rock bands that appeal to all of those artists.

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