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Public Enemy|Fear Of A Black Planet

Fear Of A Black Planet

Public Enemy

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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 /TiVo

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Fear Of A Black Planet

Public Enemy

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1
Contract On The World Love Jam (Instrumental)
00:01:44

Carlton Ridenhour, Composer - Keith Shocklee, Composer - Eric Sadler, Composer - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

2
Brothers Gonna Work It Out
00:05:07

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Garry Shider, ComposerLyricist - David Spradley, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - George Clinton, ComposerLyricist - The Bomb Squad, Producer - Keith M Boxley, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

3
911 Is A Joke
00:03:17

William Earl Collins, ComposerLyricist - Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - George Clinton, ComposerLyricist - Bernie Worrell, ComposerLyricist - The Bomb Squad, Producer - Keith M Boxley, ComposerLyricist - William Jonathan Drayton, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

4
Incident At 66.6 FM (Instrumental)
00:01:37

Carlton Ridenhour, Composer - Keith Shocklee, Composer - Eric Sadler, Composer - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

5
Welcome To The Terrordome
00:05:25

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer - Keith M Boxley, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1990 UMG Recordings, Inc.

6
Meet The G That Killed Me
00:00:44

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Keith Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

7
Pollywanacraka
00:03:52

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Keith Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

8
Anti-Nigger Machine
00:03:17

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Keith Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

9
Burn Hollywood Burn
00:02:47

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Zack De La Rocha, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - Big Daddy Kane, FeaturedArtist - Ice Cube, FeaturedArtist - Ahmir Thompson, ComposerLyricist - The Bomb Squad, Producer - James Henry Boxley III, ComposerLyricist - Antonio M. Hardy, ComposerLyricist - Tariq "Trotter" Collins, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

10
Power To The People
00:03:50

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Keith Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

11
Who Stole The Soul?
00:03:49

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Keith Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

12
Fear Of A Black Planet
00:03:45

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Keith Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

13
Revolutionary Generation
00:05:43

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Keith Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

14
Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya, Man!
00:02:46

Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer - Keith M Boxley, ComposerLyricist - William Jonathan Drayton, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

15
Reggie Jax
00:01:36

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Keith Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

16
Leave This Off Your Fu*Kin Charts (Instrumental)
00:02:31

N. Rogers, Composer - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

17
B Side Wins Again (Original Version)
00:03:45

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Keith Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 Def Jam Recordings, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

18
War At 33 1/3
00:02:07

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Keith Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

19
Final Count Of The Collision Between Us And The Damned (Instrumental)
00:00:48

Carlton Ridenhour, Composer - Keith Shocklee, Composer - Eric Sadler, Composer - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 The Island Def Jam Music Group

20
Fight The Power
00:04:42

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Keith Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Public Enemy, MainArtist - The Bomb Squad, Producer

℗ 1990 UMG Recordings, Inc.

Album Description

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 /TiVo

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