By Kevin Britton, Cincinnati CityBeat
Let's face it: Public Enemy now makes what could be referred to as "grown folk's music." Their latest 16-track offering, Rebirth of a Nation, won't draw many fans from today's Crunk, Screwed and Chopped demographic, yet children of Hip Hop's Golden Era will appreciate the group's consistent, no-nonsense approach to the politics of race and culture. The fact that PE, dead prez, Kam, Immortal Technique, MC Ren and other conscious Hip Hop luminaries appear on the same album should be enough to raise the "musically dead." If not, consider the fact that the true star of this show is the Bay-area political MC Paris, who exclusively wrote and produced Rebirth (a first for PE). Safely staying within Chuck D's preferred tempo and cadence, Paris masterfully recreates (as opposed to samples) much of the chaotic, urgent feel that characterized PE's early catalog while simultaneously adding the bouncy, synth-driven loops reminiscent of his own earlier work. Lyrically, there are few surprises -- what else would you expect when Chuck D, Paris, M1 and stic.man grace the mic? The standout single "Can't Hold Us Back," opening with an excerpt from Jesse Jackson's 1972 Wattstax speech, is a perfect example of what Rebirth of a Nation has to offer, something for us grown folk to consider as we pass the torch to younger generations. It's nation time.