Similar artists

Albums

£14.03

Rap - Released October 14, 2014 | Def Jam Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
For many, Public Enemy’s second album is the greatest in rap history. And when it hit music stores in 1988, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back enshrined Chuck D’s gang as the Rolling Stones of hip hop. An uppercut that changed the course of the genre’s history, Public Enemy remains thanks to this album THE benchmark in terms of ideological AND musical engagement. Offering a black version of CNN stripped of political correctness, examining each corner of American society with (extremely) rich rhymes and layers of literate and often carnivorous samples, Public Enemy impose their words as well as their sound. An aggressive approach to musical production (the Bomb Squad led by producer Hank Schocklee) that produces literal acoustic miracles. An electric and groovy tsunami, light years away from the bling-bling rap that would eventually take control of the genre, which attained its creative Golden Age in 1988. This Deluxe Edition includes a second record featuring thirteen bonuses, including the No Noise version of Bring The Noise, instrumentals for Rebel Without a Pause, Night Of The Living Baseheads and Black Steel In The Hour of Chaos, and the soundtrack version of Fight The Power for Spike Lee’s eponymous film. © MZ/Qobuz
£11.56

Rap - Released January 1, 1988 | Def Jam Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Yo! Bum Rush the Show was an invigorating record, but it looks like child's play compared to its monumental sequel, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, a record that rewrote the rules of what hip-hop could do. That's not to say the album is without precedent, since what's particularly ingenious about the album is how it reconfigures things that came before into a startling, fresh, modern sound. Public Enemy used the template Run-D.M.C. created of a rap crew as a rock band, then brought in elements of free jazz, hard funk, even musique concrète, via their producing team, the Bomb Squad, creating a dense, ferocious sound unlike anything that came before. This coincided with a breakthrough in Chuck D's writing, both in his themes and lyrics. It's not that Chuck D was smarter or more ambitious than his contemporaries -- certainly, KRS-One tackled many similar sociopolitical tracts, while Rakim had a greater flow -- but he marshaled considerable revolutionary force, clear vision, and a boundless vocabulary to create galvanizing, logical arguments that were undeniable in their strength. They only gained strength from Flavor Flav's frenzied jokes, which provided a needed contrast. What's amazing is how the words and music become intertwined, gaining strength from each other. Though this music is certainly a representation of its time, it hasn't dated at all. It set a standard that few could touch then, and even fewer have attempted to meet since. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£7.49

Rap - Released January 1, 1990 | Def Jam Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
£11.56

Rap - Released January 1, 1990 | Def Jam Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
At the time of its release in March 1990 -- just a mere two years after It Takes a Nation of Millions -- nearly all of the attention spent on Public Enemy's third album, Fear of a Black Planet, was concentrated on the dying controversy over Professor Griff's anti-Semitic statements of 1989, and how leader Chuck D bungled the public relations regarding his dismissal. References to the controversy are scattered throughout the album -- and it fueled the incendiary lead single, "Welcome to the Terrordome" -- but years later, after the furor has died down, what remains is a remarkable piece of modern art, a record that ushered in the '90s in a hail of multiculturalism and kaleidoscopic confusion. It also easily stands as the Bomb Squad's finest musical moment. Where Millions was all about aggression -- layered aggression, but aggression nonetheless -- Fear of a Black Planet encompasses everything, touching on seductive grooves, relentless beats, hard funk, and dub reggae without blinking an eye. All the more impressive is that this is one of the records made during the golden age of sampling, before legal limits were set on sampling, so this is a wild, endlessly layered record filled with familiar sounds you can't place; it's nearly as heady as the Beastie Boys' magnum opus, Paul's Boutique, in how it pulls from anonymous and familiar sources to create something totally original and modern. While the Bomb Squad were casting a wider net, Chuck D's writing was tighter than ever, with each track tackling a specific topic (apart from the aforementioned "Welcome to the Terrordome," whose careening rhymes and paranoid confusion are all the more effective when surrounded by such detailed arguments), a sentiment that spills over to Flavor Flav, who delivers the pungent black humor of "911 Is a Joke," perhaps the best-known song here. Chuck gets himself into trouble here and there -- most notoriously on "Meet the G That Killed Me," where he skirts with homophobia -- but by and large, he's never been so eloquent, angry, or persuasive as he is here. This isn't as revolutionary or as potent as Millions, but it holds together better, and as a piece of music, this is the best hip-hop has ever had to offer. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£14.03

Rap - Released November 24, 2014 | Def Jam Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
£38.47

Rap - Released January 1, 2013 | Def Jam Recordings

Public Enemy weren't the most popular hip-hop act of the '80s and '90s, but they were arguably the most important. Rappers Chuck D and Flavor Flav filled their lyrics with streetwise political commentary about race, class, and economics in America, and their tracks all but exploded with densely layered beats, samples, and instrumental breaks, creating a distinctive sound that was wildly influential and set new standards for production in hip-hop. At their peak, Public Enemy were the most critically lauded group in rap music, and this special box set documents their most successful and acclaimed period. 25th Anniversary Collection includes six Public Enemy albums in full: their 1987 debut Yo! Bum Rush the Show, 1988's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (generally regarded as PE's best and most influential album), 1990's Fear of a Black Planet (featuring their epochal single "Fight the Power"), 1991's Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black, 1994's Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age, and 1998's soundtrack to the Spike Lee film He Got Game. ~ Mark Deming
£11.56

Rap - Released January 1, 1994 | Def Jam Recordings

If Greatest Misses was viewed as a temporary stumble upon its release in 1992, Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age was viewed as proof positive that Public Enemy was creatively bankrupt and washed up when it appeared in 1994. By and large, it was savaged in the press, most notably in a two-star pan by Touré in Rolling Stone, whose review still irked PE leader Chuck D years later. In retrospect, it's hard not to agree with Chuck's anger, since Muse Sick is hardly the disaster it was painted at the time. In fact, it's a thoroughly enjoyable, powerful album, one that is certainly not as visionary as the group's first four records, but is as musically satisfying. Its greatest crime is that it arrived at a time when so few were interested in not just Public Enemy, but what the group represents -- namely, aggressive, uncompromising, noisy political rap that's unafraid, and places as much emphasis on soundscape as it does on groove. In 1994, hip-hop was immersed in gangsta murk (the Wu-Tang Clan's visionary 1993 debut, Enter the Wu-Tang, was only beginning to break the stranglehold of G-funk), and nobody cared to hear Public Enemy's unapologetic music, particularly since it made no concessions to the fads and trends of the times. Based solely on the sound, Muse Sick, in fact, could have appeared in 1991 as the sequel to Fear of a Black Planet, and even if it doesn't have the glorious highs of Apocalypse 91, it is arguably a more cohesive listen, with a greater sense of purpose and more consistent material than that record. But, timing does count for something, and Apocalypse did arrive when the group was not just at the peak of their powers, but at the peak of their hold on the public imagination, two things that cannot be discounted when considering the impact of an album. This record, in contrast, stands outside of time, sounding better as the years have passed, because when it's separated from fashion and trends, it's revealed as a damn good Public Enemy record. True, it doesn't offer anything new, but it offers a uniformly satisfying listen and it has stood the test of time better than many records that elbowed it off the charts and out of public consciousness during that bleak summer of 1994. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£11.56

Rap - Released January 1, 2005 | Universal Music

Apart from their 2001 installment in Universal's ongoing 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection series, Public Enemy had not been given a career compilation prior to 2005's Power to the People and the Beats: Public Enemy's Greatest Hits. The 2001 comp overlooked such major cuts as "Rebel Without a Pause" and "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos," plus it was sequenced in a non-chronological order. Power to the People rights those two wrongs by including all of PE's major songs from 1987-1998 -- which doesn't mean it's all their best music, of course -- presented in a chronological fashion, beginning with "You're Gonna Get Yours" and ending with "He Got Game." As such, it provides not only a useful summary of their groundbreaking work, it's also a bracing, exciting listen in its own right. Of course, each individual Public Enemy release recorded during these ten years is worth hearing -- especially 1988's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and 1990's Fear of a Black Planet, which are two of the great works of art of the 20th century -- but for those who want a quick introduction to the greatest hip-hop group of all time, this fits the bill perfectly. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£11.56

Rap - Released January 1, 1998 | Def Jam Recordings

Nominally a soundtrack to Spike Lee's basketball drama, but in reality more of an individual album, He Got Game appeared in 1998, just the second Public Enemy album since 1991's Apocalypse 91. Even though Chuck D was pushing 40, the late '90s were friendlier to PE's noisy, claustrophobic hip-hop than the mid-'90s, largely because hip-hop terrorists like the Wu-Tang Clan, Jeru the Damaja, and DJ Shadow were bringing the music back to its roots. PE followed in their path, stripping away the sonic blitzkrieg that was the Bomb Squad's trademark and leaving behind skeletal rhythm tracks, simple loops, and basslines. Taking on the Wu at their own game -- and, if you think about it, Puff Daddy as well, since the simple, repetitive loop of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" on the title track was nothing more than a brazenly successful one-upmanship of Puff's shameless thievery -- didn't hurt the group's credibility, since they did it well. Listen to the circular, menacing synth lines of the opening "Resurrection" or the scratching strings on "Unstoppable" and it's clear that Public Enemy could compete with the most innovative artists in the younger generation, while "Is Your God a Dog" and "Politics of the Sneaker Pimps" proved that they could draw their own rules. That said, He Got Game simply lacked the excitement and thrill of prime period PE -- Chuck D, Terminator X, and the Bomb Squad were seasoned, experienced craftsmen, and it showed, for better and worse. They could craft a solid comeback like He Got Game, but no matter how enjoyable and even thought-provoking the album was, that doesn't mean it's where you'll turn when you want to hear Public Enemy. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£18.88
£14.03

Rap - Released September 4, 2015 | Universal Music

Hi-Res
Recorded live in a studio in a suburb of London, Live from the Metropolis Studios appeared just a few months after Public Enemy's muscular 2015 studio effort Man Plans, God Laughs, so there's nothing from that album here. That said, this double-disc live album -- which is accompanied by a longer home video release, including a documentary -- isn't fixated on the past. To be sure, PE thread in their big hits -- "911 Is a Joke" and "Welcome to the Terrordome" come early, "Night of the Living Baseheads" and "Fight the Power" show up later -- but there are sharp selections from deep in the catalog (including the title track to Spike Lee's "He Got Game"), and the proceedings conclude with "Harder Than You Think," the 2007 single that became their biggest-ever hit in the U.K. What impresses is both the depth of the songbook plus the vigorous, sinewy attack. As they bear down on their 30th anniversary, Public Enemy may no longer sound like young men but they're canny, muscled survivors, a group intent to preach thegospel until they die with their boots on. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£14.03

Rap - Released September 4, 2015 | Universal Music

£6.49

Rap - Released August 28, 2015 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

£11.56

Rap - Released January 1, 2013 | Def Jam Recordings

It would be unfair to say that 1992's Greatest Misses is where it all began to go wrong for Public Enemy, but it wouldn't be entirely inaccurate. Following Apocalypse 91 by a little less than a year, the album is a jumble of six new songs and six remixes, with a live cut added as a bonus track -- a sure sign that the group was either finding a way to buy time or didn't quite have the energy to finish a full album. The resulting record doesn't indicate which answer is better, which is part of the problem: It never quite comes into focus, which is a startling change in course from a crew who, prior to this, never took an unsure step with their recordings. That lack of direction is what really hurts the record, since it seeps into not just the superfluous remixes (many waterlogged with introductory hot-button talk-show samples), but also the new material. Here, the Bomb Squad and their legions of co-producers -- most prominently the Imperial Grand Ministers of Funk, but also Dr. Treble n Mr. Bass -- sound restrained as they try to move PE away from their signature sonic assault and into newer, soulful territory. To a certain extent, it works on "Hit da Road Jack," but when the Parliament allusions are hauled out on this album's obligatory Flavor Flav showcase, "Gett off My Back," for the first time Public Enemy sound like followers, not leaders. This trouble is compounded by the fact that the tracks where they sound the most comfortable -- "Tie Goes to the Runner," the basketball saga "Air Hoodlum," and the record's best track, "Hazy Shade of Criminal" -- are the ones that sound closest to the band's classic sound, which, at that point, was beginning to sound outdated as hip-hop became ensconced in gangsta. In retrospect, it sounds better -- still not among their best material, but solid genre material nonetheless, with the aforementioned songs (apart from "Gett off My Back") all being satisfying within the sound that PE has developed, even if it's not among their best work. So, Greatest Misses is not the outright disaster that it seemed at the time, but neither is it a lost treasure, since it's just too damn diffuse to be something worthwhile for anyone outside of the dedicated. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£7.99

Rap - Released August 8, 2006 | eOne Music

£7.99

Rap - Released July 23, 2002 | eOne Music

They may go in and out of fashion, fall out of critical favor, have comebacks and slumps, but even at their worst, the truly great artists have flashes where their brilliance shines through. Public Enemy is one of those bands. When they released Revolverlution in 2002, they had been out of favor for a full decade, and throughout that time in the wilderness, the band fluctuated between brilliance (He Got Game) and unfocused meandering (Muse Sick), but the one constant remained -- even when they were bad, it was a thrill to hear them, especially Chuck D, whose voice is one of those intangible, transcendent thrills in all of popular music; it's as magical and undefinable as John Coltrane's sheets of sound, Jeff Beck's head-spinning guitar, Duke Ellington's piano, Frank Sinatra or Hank Williams' singing, Keith Richards' open-G chords -- no matter the quality of the material at hand, it's worth listening just to hear him rap. That was true when the Bomb Squad was producing PE, but, as subsequent recordings have proved, Chuck and PE could still sound shatteringly good without them. True, they built on that sound, but they did find ways to expand it, and, unlike their peers and many new artists, they were restless, not afraid of falling on their face by trying something new. Indeed, Chuck D made a point of trying something new, as he says in the liner notes for Revolverlution. Given the state of the industry and hip-hop, he's decided that there's no reason for Public Enemy to release a new album unless it covered uncharted territory. Unlike many veteran artists, he's acutely aware that new product directly competes with the band's classic albums, and that the new audience has changed, looking for individual tracks instead of full-fledged, cohesive albums -- and that might mean that they want killer new songs, live tracks, contemporary remixes, old remixes, whatever sounds good. So, Revolverlution is an attempt to craft a record along those lines. Cohesion has been thrown out the window in favor of new tunes, live tracks from 1992, new remixes by fans, remixes of songs debuted on this album, PSAs, and interviews -- the kind of album you'd burn if you spent some time on a really good artist's MP3 site. There's a bunch of good stuff here, whether it's new stuff ("Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need," the title track, the fiercely political "Son of a Bush," and "Get Your Sh*t Together"), remixes or archival material (great live versions of "Fight the Power" and "Welcome to the Terrordome"), along with collector-bait interview snippets that don't amount to much. But, there's a lot to be said for old-fashioned, cohesive albums -- they keep a consistent tone and message, delivering an album that felt unified, and thereby easier to listen to at length. This is deliberately the opposite of that kind of record, which is an admirable artistic move, but it does make the album feel like a bewildering hodge-podge, even after you understand the intent behind the entire thing. Even so, it's a worthwhile listen because, no matter what, it is still a thrill to hear Public Enemy. They might not be hip, they're not as innovative as they used to be, but they still make very good, even great music, and that's evident on Revolverlution. If only it were presented better. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine