5:02 PM GMT 17/05/2013
2012 marks the 25th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop legends Public Enemy, an occasion celebrated in the latest issue of MOJO magazine with an in-depth feature on the birth and rise of the band, featuring interviews with all the protagonists, including a rare sighting of the Lesser Spotted Rick Rubin. With roots in Long Island's Spectrum City sound system and Adelphi University's WBAU radio station, the group went on to add black power politics, rock group dynamics and ground-breaking sonic collaging techniques to mint one of the finest catalogues in any genre, peaking with their 1987 masterpiece, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.
To get you in the mood, or to augment the raptastic read you've already had, why not wallow in these sights and sounds from the dawn of hip-hop's "golden age"?
1. Spectrum City - Lies, 1984
Chuck D and Hank Shocklee's first stab at hip hop fame fell flat. No wonder, perhaps, given this plodding old-skool jam/fascinating period piece.
2. Public Enemy No 1, Radio Promo, 1986
On the radio station that spawned them, Adelphi's University's WBAU. DJ André Brown aka Dr Dré (not that one, the other one) drops Chuck and Flavor Flav's reputation-earning debut.
3. Rebel Without A Pause, 1987
Soul Train embraced rap early on (Kurtis Blow, Sugar Hill Gang, etc...). Here Don Cornelius welcomes a paramilitary invasion soundtracked by PE's hectic, sample-charged game-changer.
4. London Invasion Tour, 1987
Proustian period doc with footage of the Hammersmith show (introduced by Brit DJ "Dangerous" Dave Pearce) that would lend atmosphere to It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, PE's 1988 masterpiece.
5. Don't Believe The Hype, 1988
Great track, terrible film - but almost in a good way.
6. PETV, 1988
Attack of the concept vids as ITANOMTHUB's Night Of The Living Baseheads gets some extensions. Does overzealous ideologue Professor Griff really mean it's OK to sell crack to white people? It's possible.
7. Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos, 1989
Finally Def Jam spend some money on a promo. Chuck's in prison, but there's a riot goin' on. Has the killer opening line: "I got a letter from the government / I opened it and read it, it said they were suckers." Bonus! Here's the awesome Tricky version.
8. Fight The Power, 1989
Public Enemy reclaim the streets for a promo-cum-demonstration, roping in the ominous words of civil rights activist Thomas "TNT" Todd and moving on to diss - notoriously - Elvis and John Wayne.
9. Fight The Power (Do The Right Thing cameo)
The febrile heartbeat of Spike Lee's 1989 movie. This is the bit where Radio Raheem and Buggin' Out present their "brothers in the Hall Of Fame" ultimatum and... all hell breaks loose.
10. Public Enemy & Anthrax - Bring The Noise, 1991
Marriage made in Rick Rubin's version of heaven as rap and metal collide. The song of the tour (Anthrax and Public Enemy trekked jointly in 1991 and 1992) that may have inadvertently invented Limp Bizkit.
11. Chuck D & KRS-1 interview, 1991
LA burns after Rodney King (RIP) sustains 50 baton blows, 11 skull fractures and zero justice. Chuck D, as ever, very lucid on CNBC.
12. By The Time I Get To Arizona, 1991
Blazing, Mandrill-sampling track from underrated fourth album, 1991: The Enemy Strikes Black, with politically controversial video that appears to endorse the assassination of elected representatives. Chuck's riled at Arizona's reluctance to ratify Martin Luther King Day, btw.
13. The Surreal Life, 2004
Skip forward a decade and the going gets weird on Series 3 of VH-1's Celebrity Big Brother type thing. Witness the rebirth of Flavor Flav as a "reality" TV idol, via a mismatched public dalliance with Amazonian fruitcake Brigitte Nielsen. Their affair spawned their own reality TV spin-off, Strange Love, in 2005.
14. Flavor Of Love, 2007
And it don't stop! This Flav-themed show has rap's greatest hype man auditioning a lot of loud, violent women to be his next gf - a mixed blessing, surely. What can puritanical Chuck possibly think?
15. Story Time With Flavor Flav, 2007
How the mighty have fallen...
16. Flavor Flav's chicken restaurant, 2011
...And fallen. This time as Flav lends his name to an Iowan fried chicken franchise. Unmissable for the rap: "Y'all thought I was lying? Well, yeah, this is chicken I'm frying!" Oh, but look - it's gone wrong... Who saw that coming?
Posted by Ross_Bennett at 12:15 PM GMT 29/06/2012