Public Enemy

Public Enemy

Average Rating:

Hometown: Long Island, NY (USA)


Public Enemy is considered to be one of the most influential rap bands in music history. They have given rap legitimacy beyond its core following through their delivery of controversial lyrics dealing with social issues.

Public Enemy was officially formed in 1982 by rapper Chuck D. (Carlton Ridenhour, born in 1960), who was studying art at Adelphi University. He was joined by producer, Hank Shocklee, and publicist, Bill Stepheny as the initial members. The group signed onto the Def Jam label and then recruited; D.J. Terminator X (Norman Lee Rogers, born in 1966), Professor Griff (Richard Griff), and Flavor Flav (William Drayton, born in 1959) to the group.

Although formed in 1982, Public Enemy did not release a record until 1987, when the album, "Yo! Bum Rush The Show" was released and received critical praise but failed commercially. Their next album, "It Takes Millions To Hold Us Back" got a much better reception and it rose high on the Billboard charts and made "People Magazine's" list as one of the best rap recordings ever made. The album was considered revolutionary as Chuck D. rapped about social problems plaguing the black community and pushed for social activism.

The power delivered by Chuck D. was balanced out with the humor delivered by the group's visual focal point, Flavor Flav, who was known for comic his sunglasses and a huge clock hanging from around his neck. Working with the production team, Bomb Squad, Public Enemy found their sound by sampling indistinguishable cuts, incorporating funk, and building upon Run–D.M.C.'s street oriented beats. It was clear that from this point on that Public Enemy saw itself as a revolutionary social force. But they were much more than that, and as they built their powerful music with avant–garde cut and paste techniques, deep funk and relentless beats they rewrote the rules of hip–hop.

Just as easily as Public Enemy received praise commercially and critically, they met as much controversy for their military stance and positive endorsement of Black Muslim leader, Louis Farrakhan. Griff's anti–Semitic remarks also added to the fire that eventually led to his dismissal from the group in 1989.

Despite the negative publicity, Public Enemy continued to generate top selling albums. In 1990 the album, "Fear of a Black Planet" reached the top 10 spot on the pop charts. The following year, the album, "Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black" continued their success as it reached #4 on the pop charts. Public Enemy sought to appeal to their white audience by making their version of "Bring The Noize" featuring the metal band, Anthrax. The album also continued their controversy with the single, "By The Time I Get To Arizona" which referred to Arizona's refusal to recognize Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday as a national holiday.

The following year, the group faced a hiatus as Flavor Flav ran into trouble with the law and as the group released their negatively reviewed remix collection, "Greatest Misses". In 1994, Public Enemy returned with the album, "Music Sick–N–Hour Mess Age" which also was not received as well as their earlier work. Chuck D. then retired from touring with the group and broke away from Def Jam Records to start his own label and release his first solo project, "The Autobiography of Mista Chuck". In 1999, Public Enemy then returned again with the album, "There's a Poison Goin' On" released on the Atomic Pop label.

Public Enemy is important not only for the way they developed rap artistically, but for their emphasis on the social concerns of the black community to which they gave attention and exposure. They often blurred the lines between music and politics by delivering a message that was strongly political and often militant through the entertainment medium.

Current Releases

Public EnemyMan Plans God Laughs

Public Enemy

Man Plans God Laughs

July 14, 2015

Related News

Public Enemy announces new LP
Public Enemy have announced a new LP. The album will be called Man Plans God Laughs. It will be out July 14, 2015 via Spit…
July 01, 2015
Public Enemy to reissue classic albums
Public Enemy are set to release two of their classic albums. 1988's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and 1990's Fear of a Black Planet will be released November 24, 2014 and…
November 03, 2014
Chuck D announces solo album
Chuck D of Public Enemy has announced a new solo LP. The album will be called The Black in Man and will have ten tracks. It features the single "Give We the Pride" which features famed soul singer Mavis…
July 30, 2014
Punknews Podcast: The week of June 18, 2013
On the 151st episode of the Punknews Podcast Adam White, John Gentile discuss the Low controversy and what expectations we should put on performers. We're also joined by staff interviewer Christopher Barrett to chat about Social…
June 24, 2013
Punknews Podcast: Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, AFI, Rocket from the Crypt to headline Riot Fest 2013
Riot Fest - which we are co-sponsoring this year - has announced a huge lineup of artists for the 2013 festival. Some of the notable performers include: Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, Violent Femmes,…
May 16, 2013
Punknews Podcast: Boots Riley of the Coup posts election day playlist
Outspoken rapper and activist Boots Riley (of The Coup) has compiled a diverse playlist of political songs to help encourage voting and perhaps get your blood boiling over all the horrible things about that guy you're not voting for. The playlist includes songs from Public Enemy, The…
November 06, 2012
Punknews Podcast: Joan Jett, Public Enemy, N.W.A., Rush nominated for Rock Hall of Fame
The nominations have been announced for the 2013 class of the Rock Hall of Fame. The nominees are The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep…
October 04, 2012
Punknews Podcast: Green Day to induct Guns n' Roses into Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame
According to a Rolling Stone report, Green Day will induct Guns n' Roses into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the ceremony on April 12th. Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong…
April 03, 2012
Punknews Podcast: Fun Fun Fun Fest adds Hum, Hot Snakes, Cave In, Bane, Touche Amore, Henry Rollins, Danzig
The promoters have confirmed the rest of the lineup for this year's Fun Fun Fun Fest in Texas. The event takes place November 4th,5th and 6th. The event features notable reunions from…
August 01, 2011

Exclusive Streams


Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Managing Editor

Adam White

Contributing Editors

Kira Wisniewski Brittany Strummer Armando Olivas John Flynn Chris Moran John Gentile Mark Little

Copy Editor

Adam Eisenberg Britt Reiser

Podcast Producer

Greg Simpson


Aubin Paul

ISSN 1710-5366

© Copyright 1999-2013 Punknews.org

Terms of Use Privacy Policy Contact Us About Punknews.org

Other Places to Go