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The sticker on the front of this CD states 'The definitive collection', so, let's see.
First a little background:
Public Enemy have been going over 20 years now....I cannot thing of another rap group that have, certainly not as 'hardcore' as PE. They do not compromise, their lyrics are always hard hitting, the backing music is always funky, edgy and often sampled, by them, and in turn their music is sampled.
They have influenced many other rappers, and they remain original, they are unapologetic in their songs and embody, for me, the early days of rap, and yet move woith the times. Great website by the way: http://www.publicenemy.com/
It may seem strange a white, middle aged bloke writing about this CD and group, but in 1979 when I first heard Grandmaster Flash, at 17 I was hooked on rap, and Public Enemey have long been one of my fave's. Not that I pretend to understand all that they rap about or have experienced, of course I can't. I just love the rawness of their stuff, to me they are the black American equivalent of what the Sex Pistols were here. Irreverant, anarchic, and bloomin' great.
18 tracks, and you can pick this CD up for around £6 now, that is value in itself. There is a very neat booklet in the CD which covers some of PE background.
Track 1. You're gonna get yours.
Quite a busy opening, lot's of background 'noise'; guns, scratching, heavy funk beat. Serious 'old style' rapping with a kinda Cypress Hill feel about it. Not the best track in my opinion, in reality a song about a car! 6/10.
Track 2. Public Enemey No 1.
Track starts with a bit of a 'skit' rap, and a nice 70's funk electro backing, then breaks into a nice lyrical rap, usual guns n stuff rap. Minimal musical background, real headbanging track. 7/10.
Track 3. Rebel without a pause.
Now I really like this, the start is strong, very Cypress Hill again, but much better, love the backing screech that foloows the whole rap......then there is some interesting breaks and riffs that remind me of Grandmaster Flash. 7/10.
Track 4. Bring the noise.
Bit too busy for me, but has the classic line: 'Base, how low can you go?' For many fans this is a real classic, full of references to Black Power and political in the extreme, for that reason alone it is a real classic, not my favourite though. 6/10.
Track 5. Don't Believe the hype.
Love this track. Rappers that seem to be freestyling but they are not of course, it is planned, and they 'encourage' each other well, some great sound effects in this track. Bit slower than most of their stuff, but still well over 100 BPM. 8/10.
Track 6. Prophets of rage.
Great voice over to start the track; White American saying "You're quite hostile", getting the response: "I gotta right to be hostile man, my people been persecuted". This sets the scene for a really political, all out ranting rap, love it. 8/10.
Track 7. Black steel in the hour of chaos.
Anti enlistment/draft song, not the best in my opinion. 5/10.
Track 8. Fight the Power.
Very Martin Luther King in the message, though the opening voice over is from another activist, Thomas Todd. A real statement of a song and no doubt terrified a few white folk in the US, bit too repetitive for me. 7/10.
Track 9. Welcome to the Terrordome.
Bores me senseless, don't like this. 2/10.
Track 10. 911 is a joke.
Now if ever a title invoked some controversy this is it. Not much that is really controversial about the song though, a lame offering in my opinion. 2/10.
Track 11. Brothers gonna work it out.
Samples many of their earlier tracks. Almost like a compliation of their songs, another lame edition. 2/10.
Track 12. Can't do nuttin' for ya man.
Better than the last couple of tracks, nice fast, musical backing to a story of getting yourself in the Sh*t and needing to get out of it on your own. 6/10.
Track 13. Can't truss it.
One long lyrical rap, old style, got toi be honest I don't 'get it' but I don't care, just love it, it is one of those tracks that gets the foot tapping and head bobbing. 7/10.
Track 14. Shut em down.
Another long lyrical rap, another political statement based on racism in America. Very well thought out lyrics and a very nice bass background, one of their best, simple and to the point. 8/10.
Track 15. By the time I get to Arizona.
Quite a departure from their usual style of backing music with a rock riff mixed with a funky base line, very interesting. Lyrics about getting some equality and reperation. Top song. 8/10.
Track 16. Hazy shade of criminal.
This is one of PE's best tracks, highlighting the 'criminal' tag given to young black men, in contrast to some of the 'criminal' acts perpertrated by white America. Brilliant. 9/10.
Track 17. Give it up.
Rap for rap's sake, no real politics, cool backing riffs and the most 'fun' of anything they have on this album. 6/10.
Track 18. He got game.
This is such a great song, great backing music, every one of the group get a turn to rap, and at points the vocals are actually breaking into song. There is also some gospel at the end. I love this, very 'grown up' from PE. This track is taken from the album of the same name that acted as a backing track to Spike Lee film, "Are you ready for the real revolution, a revolution of the mind?" Great ending track. 10/10.
Very, very good, definitive? Yes, that means some of the not so great tracks are include. I'm okay with that.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 You're Gonna Get Yours
2 Public Enemy No.1
3 Rebel Without A Pause
4 Bring The Noise
5 Don't Believe The Hype
6 Prophets Of Rage
7 Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos
8 Fight The Power
9 Welcome To The Terrordome
10 911 Is A Joke
11 Brothers Gonna Work It Out
12 Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya Man
13 Can't Truss It
14 Shut Em Down
15 By The Time I Get To Arizona
16 Hazy Shade Of Criminal
17 Give It Up
18 He Got Game - Stephen Stills, Voices Of Shabach Community Choir Of Long Island, Public Enemy