June 10, 2023

Fear Of A Black Planet – Public Enemy [A Throwback CD Review]

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From time to time I will be doing a series of throwback CD reviews of CD’s I find relevant and think need to be rediscovered and kept alive as well as introduced to a whole new audience that may be too young to remember. Here is the first in my series of throwback CD reviews, enjoy…

Public Enemy
Fear Of A Black Planet
Def Jam Recordings
March 1990

Public-Enemy-Fear-Of-A-Black-PlanetPublic Enemy’s third album, released by Def Jam Recordings and Columbia Records, was dense, heavy, and urgent as a bullet. “Fear of a Black Planet” single-handedly added half a dozen phrases to the language, and not just from Chuck D’s troop-rallying bellow and Master Of The Universe voice, but Flavor Flav shines on “911 Is a Joke” which is as catchy an indictment of urban policy as anyone has ever come up with.

In essence, along with KRS ONE, P.E provided dynamic, socially relevant hip-hop which transcended cliché and hype, this album’s concepts remains innovative and classic today. The production has stood the test of time, as well as any other album from that era.

 The Bomb Squad’s music is complicated, challenging, terse, and totally funky, and Chuck matches it with one impassioned pronouncement after another: on Hollywood’s racism, on miscegenation, on “real history / Not his story.”

I got so much trouble on my mind
I refuse to lose
Here’s your ticket
Hear the drummer get wicked

The lead single, “Welcome to the Terrordome” is a complete sonic apocalypse, driven by samples from no less than three James Brown tracks plus the shimmering, paranoid guitar line from the Temptations’ “Psychedelic Shack.” Some say this was one of Chuck’s greatest lyrical performances, set to the production peak of the Bomb Squad.

 “Fear…” released  just a mere two years after It Takes a Nation of Millions, is one of the best rap albums ever made, and at a time when sampling was affordable. It allowed Terminator X and the Bomb Squad to produce the most radical apocalyptic hip-hop assault on the ears. “Brothers Gonna Work it Out swirls with immediacy, as does “Power to the People” and “War at 33 1/3.” This album is so much more chaotic and dense It Takes a Nation of Millions,” the beats are huge, and Chuck D is full of fury. The album ends with “Fight the Power,” the ultimate statement of purpose, from its pounding, atonal sound collage to its furious politics. Put “Fear..” on, and it’s always a long, hot summer. When hip-hop needed credence and a cornerstone for a new decade, “Fear…” provided just that, and P.E delivered the funk. This controversial release in my opinion is perhaps P.E.’s greatest hour.

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1 comment

OG Easy Tee August 28, 2015 at 11:39 AM

Now I called 911 a long time ago! P.E. Was ahead of their time, pretty much more relevant today than ever. Griff being the Minister Of Information, Chuck being the messenger & Flav, being Flav made a heck of an impact. Big Up to Strong Islands Finest!!!


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