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Public Enemy Biography

Public Enemy Biography

Developing his talents as an MC with Flav while delivering furniture for his father's business, Chuck and "Spectrum City", as they were called, released the record "Check Out The Radio", backed by "Lies", a social commentary - both of which would influence RUSH Productions' Run D.M.C. and Beastie Boys. They were signed to the still developing Def Jam record label after co-founder Rick Rubin heard Chuck D freestyling on a demo.

Around 1986, Bill Stephney, the former Program Director at WBAU, was approached by Rubin and offered a position with the label. Stephney accepted, and his first assignment was to help Rubin sign Chuck D, whose song "Public Enemy Number One" he had heard from Andre "Doctor Dre" Brown. According to the book The History of Rap Music by Cookie Lommel: "Stephney thought it was time to mesh the hard-hitting style of Run DMC with politics that addressed black youth. Chuck recruited Spectrum City, which included Hank Shocklee, his brother Keith Shocklee and Eric "Vietnam" Sadler, collectively known as 'The Bomb Squad,' to be his production team and added another Spectrum City partner, Professor Griff, to become the group's Minister of Information. With the addition of Flavor Flav and another local mobile DJ named Terminator X, the group Public Enemy was born."

It then took roughly one year before their debut, Yo! Bum Rush The Show, was released in 1987 to critical acclaim. They went on to release the revolutionary It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back in 1988, which performed better in the charts than their previous release, and included the hit single "Don't Believe the Hype" in addition to "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" chronicling a daring prison break.

Epic samplers, Public Enemy saw Madonna and Lenny Kravitz, lift the beat for Madonna's hit "Justify My Love" from PE's instrumental "Security of the First World." Nation of Millions... was voted Album of the Year by the The Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll, the first rap album to be ranked number one by predominantly rock critics in a major periodical. It is also ranked the 18th best album of all time by Acclaimedmusic.net.

They also went on to release Fear of a Black Planet, which was considered to be just as militant and controversial as their first two releases. It was also the most successful of any of their albums to date and in 2005 was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress. It included the singles "911 (is a Joke)", which criticized emergency response units for taking longer to arrive at emergencies in the black community than those in the white community, and "Fight the Power", which is considered by many to be the group's anthem. The song is regarded as among the most popular and influential in Hip Hop history and was the theme song for Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing. It is ranked the 84th best song of all time by Acclaimedmusic.net "Fight the Power" contains the classic lines: "Elvis was a hero to most but he never meant shit to me/Straight-up racist that sucker was simple and plain/MuthaF*ck him and John Wayne"

Their next release, Apocalypse '91...The Enemy Strikes Black, continued this trend, with songs like "Can't Truss It" and "# I Don't Wanna Be Called Yo Nigga". The album's influence could be seen and heard in the controversial song and video "By the Time I Get To Arizona" which chronicled the black community's frustration that some states did not recognize the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The video featured members of Public Enemy taking out their frustrations on politicians in the states not recognizing the holiday.


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