By Bruce Banter, Playahata.com
Just because "Da Man" gave Flavor Flav a reality TV show don't think that Public Enemy, is no longer the Enemy of "Da Man". The lyrics have changed a little considering the fact that Paris wrote much of the lyrics and not Chuck D, and you might be a little surprised by an occasional N-word where you are not accustomed to hearing one from Chuck D. However the main diversion from the average P.E. album is that there are more guest appearances on the album than any other P.E. project. The Guestlist is VIP in terms of political rappers Dead Prez, Immortal Technique, KAM, Conscious Daughters and MC Ren (formerly of NWA).
It's hard to imagine that much of the lyrics are not written by Chuck D but the flow is definitely his on "Pump the Music". I felt like I was listening to a missing cut from the "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" album. Any talk about Public Enemy being stuck in an earlier period is cliché as P.E. offers no evidence of being in a time warp. However, the album tracks bounce back and forth from Vintage '90s to attempts at capturing the swagger and psyche of the youth of 2006 - a task that may not be possible without the help of other propaganda mediums. Flavor Flav's newfound popularity should be reason enough for curious adolescents to check the newest Public Enemy project and they will find the same energy that I discovered when I was their age. In fact, although Flav is almost 50, his is a voice is ten years younger and Chuck's hasn't changed at all.
My personal favorites are "Plastic Nation" which discusses the ills of America's Botox and plastic surgery pandemic, "Hannibal Lecture" which is rawer than Sushi, "Consequences", a Paris solo where Flavor Flav's reality series is addressed, "Invisible Man" where Chuck D reasserts his voice as one of the most distinct in hip hop history, "Watch The Door" which has a 'Robin Hood' theme that comes off as quite original, and "Rise" which may be the best track on the album. It's hard to go into all the tracks that are pleasing in an album that scores in the Heavy Rotation category without turning this into a feature. Ironically the only track that I did not particularly like was the title track, which may be viewed as the most official Public Enemy cut because it has Professor Griff on it - something many long-time P.E. fans have missed. This album is classic just in the sense that there has never been an album to my knowledge which incorporates so many controversial political rappers. If it wasn't an independent release it might not have ever happened.
Quality %: B+
Bonus: Flavor Flav gets a solo track ( "They Call Me Flavor")