By Soren Baker, Los Angeles Times
The idea is a match made in political rap heaven, but the reality of Public Enemy and Paris teaming for the first time on an entire album ends up somewhere in music purgatory.
Both Public Enemy, arguably the most important rap group of all time because of its trailblazing political edge and jarring, unconventional production, and Paris, Public Enemy's Bay Area-based devotee and the self-proclaimed Black Panther of Rap, sound surprisingly rudimentary lyrically and sonically on several of the collection's 16 songs.
Sure, Public Enemy and Paris rage against the governmental and societal machines, but for artists who individually created such masterpieces as the anti-draft, prison-break "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" and the depressing soldier story "AWOL," their arguments on "Rebirth of a Nation" are general and only scratch the surface. Furthermore, Paris' largely funk-inspired production fails to reach the searing, mind-blowing levels he and Public Enemy have achieved previously. These deficiencies aside, the album contains a lyrical might and sense of urgency sorely missing from much of today's popular rap. PE's Chuck D rallies for unity against oppression on "Rise" and highlights the self-esteem problems linked with cosmetic surgery on "Plastic Nation," while Paris offers sharp insights on "Make It Hardcore" and "Coinsequences" - the kind of songs this "Nation" needs more of.