N.W.A. may have been threatened by the U.S. government, but Public Enemy can safely lay claim to rap's most dangerous group.
"The United States Constitution once considered black people to be three-fifths of a human being," Chuck D says. "If this is a public document, obviously we must be the enemy, so that's where the name Public Enemy came from."
Yes, they were part of the wave of rap's mainstream invasion along with RUN DMC, NWA and LL Cool J. And yes, they were part of rap's social conscience trinity along with NWA and Boogie Down Productions. But what made Public Enemy stand out from everyone else is their melding of political commentary with classic showmanship, best demonstrated by their leads:
Chuck D is the angry intellectual poet, inspiring his listeners to come together and fight for whatever cause he believed in. Flavor Flav is the crazed, mercurial clown prince who reels you in with his wacked-out charisma and keeps you with the profound lyrics he spits out. They are the classic push-and pull combination that makes every legendary group exactly that - legendary. They are rap's Jagger/Richards, Cash/Carter, or even early Axl/Slash.
That, combined with their stage show complete with Black Panther-esque shock troops and earworm beats supplied by Tha Bomb Squad, album titles like Fear Of A Black Planet and their provocative target logo, Public Enemy is the true rap conscience.
And it doesn't hurt that they have an affinity for metal either...
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