Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

30 January, 2006

Brothers gonna work it out

We've been listening to Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet a lot lately - I think it's jiving with our sense of righteous anger these days. I remember this album coming out when I was in high school and being shocked at the raw indignation seething from the speakers. I didn't really get it then, and other than a few cuts, the album didn't ever make it into the regular rotation.

Which is a real shame, because FoaBP is a sonic marvel, first and foremost because of the socio-political commentary delivered in Chuck D's stacatto cadence, balanced by Flavor Flav's court jester antics. My sweetie, an ex-New Yorker, mentioned that listening to the lyrics makes her think of how much has changed since the album's release in 1990. I can kind of see her point - FoaBP documents the grit and racial tension of inner-city neighborhoods in New York during the 1980s. This tension hasn't been resolved, per se. Rather, it's slinked out of sight as the city has become increasingly gentrified. But beyond that particular historical context, this album is still able to speak to the ugly, unspoken (although at times, explicit) racism that remains at our nation's underbelly.

All of this occurs over some of the most adventurous beats and sampling in all of hip-hop. Chuck D's revolutionary message is delivered over funky-ass beats and a melange of samples that evoke the urban landscape he describes. The music highlights the anger of the rhymes while simultaneously causing your booty to irresistably swang.

This album has found its way into the permanent rotation. It's a true classic that should be listened to time and again for its lyrical consciousness and phat, phat beats.


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