Whoever thought (or hoped) that Chuck D had reached the end of his ‘Swa¬hili’ was very mistaken. After the three highly successful albums ‘Yo! Bum rush the show’, ‘It takes a nation of millions to hold us back’, and ‘Fear of a black planet’, the no.1 rap group (‘always on the edge of controversy’) is back with a new, hard-hitting concept: “justice evolves only after injustice is defeated!” This record speaks out against blindly believing in things, matters, statements, etc. without first challenging them (thoroughly).
In terms of instrumentation, the album is once again a pinnacle of creative musical structures: innovative sounds in the Hip-Hop genre as well as in the funk domain. While ‘The bombsquad‘ were the progressive funk brain behind P.E. on previous albums, on this fourth album, it’s ‘The imperial grand ministers of funk’ who, under the supervision of the bombsquad, open new doors. This album is musically harder and fuller than the previous ones. The highlight of the hardcore sound is the remake of the song ‘Bring tha noise’, accompanied by the hard rock band Anthrax.
On a lyrical level, P.E. takes us to a new and tougher dimension in Hip-Hop. The last album ended with the words: “the future of Public Enemy’s gotta…”, and the first track of the successor begins with the statement: “The future holds nothing else but confrontation.” A warned homeboy counts for two, and thus, for the rest of the album, we find ourselves amidst smoothly flowing staccato rhymes (yes, equipped with enjambment and various other poetry fundamentals) that address (American) societal, incrowd, or personal issues.
A glimpse behind the curtain: In the song ‘Can’t truss* it’ (* tying the arms to the body), also a single, 12″, and (censored in the US and the UK) music video, a comparison is drawn between the black people of America during slavery and the black people of present-day America with its (mostly) white-dominated industry and money in general. The song ‘How to kill a radio consultant’ is an attack on radio stations that are increasingly falling under the influence of commercialism and thereby not giving enough opportunities to honest, real (underground) black music. And even the lyrics of fellow rappers who use so-called ‘explicit lyrics’ are heavily criticized, albeit without being named. In the uplifting funky track ‘I don’t wanna be called yo nia’, Flavor Flav opposes the growing trend of calling everything and everyone ‘nia’: “Take a small problem. Make a small problem bigger.”
But there’s more brain and soul food: respect for women, particularly black women (the least popular image in the US regarding jobs, etc.), must be regained. The problem of alcohol abuse should definitely not be popularized by frequently mentioning cheap alcoholic beverages that are only available in the ghettos (‘1 million bottlebags’). The corrupt American police, etc., etc. ‘They got many, many styles but we take a pick’ (IceCube). It would take up the entire newspaper to explain in detail why this latest P.E. expression is once again a (I would almost say historic) masterpiece. Therefore, I only have one thing left to proclaim: “Yo! Knowledge this: the album is extra crazy stupid def dope; be sure to check it out!” 5000.
Published in Dutch in Holland Nieuws 1991