A documentary film and a very special concert. A show performed by the most compelling hip hop act of their generation. We have news that a valuable recording is about to be released …
On 6 August 2014 — Public Enemy performed a one-off concert in one of the most historical recording studios in London. It was the most intimate concert of their career. Soon you’ll have a chance to own the soundtrack and to get involved.
The close-and-personal show took place in the same room that Amy Winehouse put down her ‘Back To Black‘.
The concert was recorded in front of just 125 fans. It took place at The Powerhouse (a building once used to generate the energy for London’s tram network.) The Powerhouse is the Metropolis Studios.
Twenty-five years after the release of Public Enemy’s most successful album “Fear of a Black Planet” — the rap legends including Chuck D, Flavor Flav and DJ Lord performed their fan favourites, interspersed (as you would expect) with some frank exchanges.
“London is ground zero, this is Public Enemy’s base….” Said Chuck D.
We had a listen:
Songs at the concert included the classic super-hit ‘Bring the Noise’ which appeared on the soundtrack for the 1987 film ‘Less Than Zero’ and contained shout-outs to all and sundry (and not least Yoko Ono) and also included reference to thrash metallers Anthrax who later released a competent collab.
It’s worth repeating the line: “Too black, too strong?” over-and-over, to get an idea of how far we have travelled since 1987.
Chuck D’s lyrics (and vocals) still contain the power, the vim and the heartbeat of revolution. This still feels urgent and neat even though (now) we are more used to the innovative cut-up techniques that were used on the original take (it was revolutionary…) But that incredibly powerful poetry cannot be ignored.
Flavor Flav’s song “911 Is a Joke” was originally recorded for the band’s 1990 ‘Fear of a Black Planet’ disc, and so it was released eleven years before the September 11 attacks.
Despite the provocative prophecies [and here we are referring to the shootings of Walter Scott, Michael Brown and countless others] anyone hearing this, of a certain age, will undoubtedly smile to themselves. That’s the anarchy of Public Enemy! Yes, you will think of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And, yes, you will nod along to the hypnotic, shining beat. It’s so good we cannot help ourselves. We get emotionally involved.
The hi-top fades of 1989 might be salt ‘n’ pepper now (hopefully, they are completely grown out) — but the revolutionary zeal that those days ignited cannot be quenched. Or can it? With ‘Fight The Power’ the Public Enemy turned their back on “All that 1963 nonsense…” And they decided to commit.
Back in the late 1980s, of course, they preached to brothers and sisters. Not to “Ho’s and Gangstas.”
And Public Enemy rapped about social issues. In a way that stars don’t do today.
So what has happened to hip-hop since then? Why has it lost its authority? Why do hip hop artists like Kanye West seem less educated than Public Enemy? Why are todays stars unable to take a stand? Why are they less articulate? Why do they lack inner strength? Why are they less able to impose their wishes? Why do they seem unable to demonstrate their dignity? All we can say is — Thank God for Chuck!
“Night of the Living Baseheads” was the third single Public Enemy. It was taken from the album “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.” The subtext of this 1988 hit attempted to deal with the effects of crack ( or “base” ) cocaine. An epidemic had taken over the American cities.
Chuck D uttered “Bass!” and the reply was “How low can you go?”
But now — in 2015 — the nation is filled with zombies. How low did they go?
And it’s not only crack-heads either! The adolescent population has been de-skilled, de-educated and freed from their sense of duty, responsibility and obligation. The ‘man’ won! The Zombie Nation has been (de)-mobilized.
Nowadays, Marx’s “Opiates of the Masses” will include such things as greed, selfishness, ego-vanity, fantasy-porn, indolence etc.
It turns out that, in the end, crack cocaine did not have to be invented …. All they had to do, to zombify a nation (and a generation) was swap the Coca Leaf for common LUST. That’s right… They didn’t rob us… they just started giving us stuff! They gave us everything. Uncontrollable greed! That’s how to enslave!
Re-listening to this superb track (and comparing it) — it is easy to say that the original is still the best. It was such an incredible achievement. Deep, anxious and filled with amazing patterns, light and dark moods, intricate rhythms… But not too overly-complicated to enjoy.
The 2007 hit “Harder Than You Think” produced by Gary G-Wiz became popular in 2012 as the sound-track for the London Paralympic Games.
Above all the other tracks by Public Enemy, this song reminds us that Hip Hop used to be our motivation.
God give us strength to, please, make it happen again…
Do ya remember when rap actually meant something? Yeah me too!
But these days, it’s harder than you think …
Words: @neilmach 2015 ©
“Harder Than You Think” cover art with thanks to SLAMjamz Records.
Universal Music Group and Metropolis Studios are releasing the sounds: “PUBLIC ENEMY – LIVE FROM METROPOLIS STUDIOS.” Available from November 6, 2015. The recordings will include three hours of quality footage and songs include: ‘Bring Tha Noize’, ‘911 Is A Joke’, ‘Fight The Power’, ‘Night Of The Living Baseheads’ and concluding with ‘Harder Than You Think.’ The concert recording will be available in various formats to meet all your desires, wishes and expectations…