Nestled midway on "Fear of a Black Planet," Public Enemy's 1990 platinum album—and one of the greatest musical releases of all time—comes "Burn Hollywood Burn." (Halfway between "911 Is A Joke" and "Fight the Power"! I mean!)
The track is notable not just for rhyming "burn" TERM and "perm" (important correction!) but for the collaboration with Ice Cube and Big Daddy Kane—the only guest stars on the album. "Butlers and maids," slaves and hoes" is how Kane describes available Hollywood roles for black people.
Here we are in the future, 24 years later! How did the fellas take last night's best picture win for 12 Years A Slave, in [...]
"Chuck D, Public Enemy’s No. 1, will induct fellow New York rap act Beastie Boys. The groups’ debut albums were released within two months of each other. The Beasties have topped the Billboard 200 album chart four times." —Next month, when Chuck D gives his speech to induct the Beastie Boys into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it would be funny if he quoted himself and referred to the three Jewish rappers being "so-called chosen/frozen" for perpetuity among the pantheon of rock greats. I love the Beastie Boys and I think they're deserving of all accolades available. But I think the Rock and Roll Hall of [...]
Picture it! March, 1990. Twenty years ago. Public Enemy's third album, "Fear of a Black Planet," was coming out in April-and then-popular music rag Spin put them on the cover. Sort of. They got the big type, but the B-52s got the picture. ("Love Shack" had just been a big hit!) And then there was another of Spin's long series of interesting if often insanely misguided articles on AIDS-this one by B. D. Colen was totally sensible!
Elvis may have been a hero to most, but he hasn't had a new album in over thirty years. And now, somehow appropriate during this week of full blownrace war, Jay-Z has just displaced him as the American artist, and the solo artist, with the most no. 1 albums on Billboard's Top 200 albums chart, ever. Jay-Z is black. Elvis, who died in 1977, was actually white.
“Rap culture is interesting and different and has purpose, but it has a nonromantic view of life and of social feelings. There may be a void in that.” —Hal David, who wrote "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" and about a million other songs you know whether you want to or not with his partner Burt Bacharach, had a pretty clear-eyed take on hip-hop. (Though I would argue that rap's antiromance goes towards its interestingness and differentness. And that, as much as it may signal a void, it has done us a service in counterbalancing, even just a little bit, the vast preponderance of overly romantic, "breakup-and-makeup" love [...]