Public Enemy - Rebirth of a Nation
By Ruben Diaz, Ballerstatus.net
When Pharrell Williams, of The Neptunes/N*E*R*D, was once asked on Los Angeles' biggest radio station (Power 106) -- by Felli Fel (during Felli's famous show) -- what his favorite record of all time was, with little to no hesitation, Pharrell replied with "Public Enemy, 'Shut 'Em Down'! You play that sh-- in New York, and n----s'll go CRAZY!." That statement speaks volumes as to just what kind of an impact Chuck D, Flava Flav, Terminator X and the Bomb Squad, or better yet, Public Enemy, had on the hip-hop culture, and the World.
For PE, it was a time when it was cool to go against the grain and "stick it to the man" and revolt in any way, shape, or form. It's that rebellion and furious delivery with a message always involved that won over fans and drew furious opposition and uneasiness amongst those who PE chose to address and verbally attack in their music. Uncle Sam and the U.S. government felt the wrath of Public Enemy's music with seminal albums such as It Takes A Nation To Hold Us Back and "Fear Of A Black Planet.
Now, in a time where socially relevant music or entertainment for that matter, seems non-existent and struggles to find a place in today's mainstream, PE is still around, and trying to reinstill their lyrics in today's new generation of rap consumers.
With a bulk of work already established with Paris, PE enlists his production services as well as what seems to be a "Public Enemy AND Paris" album on their most recent full length feature, Rebirth Of A Nation.
With 16 tracks full of Chuck D's potent lyrics, it's a decent outing, but doesn't quite have the same impact PE music once had. Partially, or perhaps, mostly to blame, is Bomb Squad's absence on the production end of things, though Paris attempts to breathe life back into Public Enemy with futile attempts on "Raw Sh--", "Hard Rhymin'," and "Plastic Nation." But, Paris' sparse guitars and keyboard/G-Funk sounds just don't fill the void left when the Bomb Squad isn't there under "Produced By" credits.
Chuck still has his moments that show he still "has it." Unfortunately, the themes and content are revisited, and the same people are being called out (i.e., the C.I.A., the Bush administration, and so on). With well over a decade of impacting music, the times have simply changed, and the world is in a different state of being for PE to be taken in the same light it was when they initially burst on the scene. Though solid, Rebirth just doesn't shine in the same light that Public Enemy once did.