public enemy 11

Public Enemy: 25th anniversary collection

Public Enemy


Despite Hip Hop’s unequivocal musical and cultural influence on just about everything since the late 70s, the genre’s most exalted and celebrated protagonists have failed to be honored in say the same way as rock, pop, R&B etc. This is in some ways down to the lack of consistency and longevity, and the emphasis on individual tracks over albums – though the LP has always been faithfully adhered in the Hip Hop community, regardless of quality.

It’s hardly sacrilegious to suggest that apart from KRS One, under the auspices of Boogie Down Productions, there have been very few artists and groups able to constantly deliver the goods other than Public Enemy – a sweeping statement I know, yet one I’m willing to stand firm and resolute by.

Bombastically launching their depth charge declaration to the world in 1987 with the raw snarling clarion call Yo! Bum Rush The Show, Public Enemy remain one of Hip Hop’s patriarchs, now commanding a celebratory anniversary edition of their first six albums – from the debut to 1998’s He Got Game. Of course they were honored back 2010 with the 20th anniversary of, in my view, their most accomplished masterpiece Fear Of A Black Planet – for which I wrote an essay on this very site, here


Public Enemy 2


Jabbing and cutting a durable pathway through the good time block jams and boastful rep schools of rap, the P.E scornfully, and piqued with frustration, offered diatribes and denouncements a plenty. Broadcasting a black version of CNN in the mode of a camarilla, complete with a minister of information and menacing paramilitary style security (both run by Professor Griff), the rhetoric was mostly spot-on, though certain ideas were unpalatable – Griff was eventually forced to leave the band for a number of years, after a succession of anti-Semitic and homophobic statements in 1989.


With the dual force of Bomb Squad production (a mix of aggressive sonorous beats, sirens, Terminator X cuts and heavy rock growling guitars) and Chuck D’s explosive machine gun scattered pronouncements – lightened by Flavor Flav’s dark comedic soliloquies – proved daringly revolutionary. Through their relationship with the progenitor of quality Hip Hop from the late 80s onwards, Def Jam, and exalted producer Rick Rubin, Public Enemy left an indelible mark on not only rap but influenced a myriad of musicians, artists, writers, producers and even film directors – though working both ways, Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing Bedford-Stuyvesant tragedy, wouldn’t have been quite the same without the P.E single, Fight The Power.

Public Enemy


That influence and impact has finally been appraised by the industry with a nomination for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame – as if they needed anyone, especially the establishments, approval; the equivalent of doffing one’s cap to the landowner.

As a tribune the 25th Anniversary Vinyl Collection boxset (9×12” LPs) sets out to honour the group’s first decade together. The full list of original albums includes: Yo! Bum Rush The Show (originally released April 1987), It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (April 14th 1988), Fear Of A Black Planet (April 10th 1990), Apocalypse 91…The Enemy Strikes Black (October 3rd 1991), Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age (August 23rd 1994) and He Got Game (April 21st 1998).


In the spirit of celebration here’s my own ‘bring the noise’ selection of choice tunes from that period.



You’re Gonna Get Yours from Yo! Bum Rush The Show (Def Jam) 1987

Public Enemy No.1 from Yo! Bum Rush The Show (Def Jam) 1987

She Watch Channel Zero from It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (Def Jam) 1988

Rebel Without A Pause from It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (Def Jam) 1988

Who Stole The Soul from Fear Of A Black Planet (Def Jam) 1990

Brothers Gonna Work It Out from Fear Of A Black Planet (Def Jam) 1990

By The Time I Get To Arizona from Apocalypse 91…The Enemy Strikes Black (Def Jam) 1991

Shut’em Down from Apocalypse 91…The Enemy Strikes Black (Def Jam) 1991

Give It Up from Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age (Def Jam) 1994

Bedlam 13:13 from Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age (Def Jam) 1994
Unstoppable feat. KRS-One from He Got Game (Def Jam) 1998

What You Need Is Jesus from He Got Game (Def Jam) 1998

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.