By Public Enemy
Reviewed by D’Arcy Briggs
Referencing lyrics from their classic track Fight the Power, Public Enemy’s latest album is titled “Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp.” It is the first of two that the group has promised to see release it 2012. Both albums are conceptual in nature and are said to play counterpoint to various themes and political topics. Public enemy are doing more on this release than simply rehashing their previous works and being the ‘political-hip-hop’ representatives. The album contains a slew of featured artists (including DMC and Brother Ali) and address such topical issues as the Occupy movement the failing American state.
Musically the album wavers here and there, coming across as a little stretched. Maybe releasing it with fewer tracks would have bolstered the overall experience. It isn’t that Chuck D and co. are getting “old” or “tired”, but the ambition of so many guest artists and producers sometimes muddies the mix. To cite certain lyrics as representative of the album is tough. Each track blazes with both musical and political prowess. Stand-out tracks include “Run Till it’s Dark,” “Get up Stand up,” and “I Shall not be Moved.”
“GOT SO MUCH TO SHOUT ABOUT/ WHAT THE 1% IS GETTIN OUT/ RECESSION DEPRESSION DESPERATION DUE/ NEVER HAVE SO MANY BEEN SCREWED BY SO FEW,” shouts Chuck D in one track, while guest MC Cormega puts out “A STEREOTYPE/ THEY FEEL EVERY COLOR IS INFERIOR RIGHT/ BROTHERS WHO RESIST ARE CONSIDERED A THREAT/ FROM SITTING BULL TO MALCOLM X.”
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Public Enemy as a group. Their contribution to hip-hop as well as popular music cannot be understated. While their political stances were not at all unique to the genre, and the band has been followed with some controversy, their popularity in the mainstream has brought oft silenced and overlooked voices to the front.