“Some foreign power, some group of terrorists, some individual concern,” begins the third studio record from Public Enemy. Fear of a Black Planet showcases a hip-hop group’s love for the controversy and publicity while pushing a social agenda through sound and engaging production.
Each record from Public Enemy plays out as a storybook narrator with Chuck D and Flavor Flav either getting jiggy or completely wrecking over an ice-cold assortment of beats directly from Bomb Squad. Comprised of both Hank and Keith Shockley, Eric Sadler, and Gary G-Wiz, the team was a swan dive of deep club beats and the foundation of militant rhyme styles coming from obscure electronic resonation. Public Enemy grabs the listener’s attention with the opening track, “Brothers Gonna Work It Out” that features some raging guitar work in the backing that is accompanied by authentic drum patterns that create order. Following the Black Power stance that Public Enemy essentially embodied through rap. Chuck D explains, “1995, you’ll twist to this. As you raise your fist to the music, united we stand, yes divided we fall. Together we can stand tall.”
With the now somewhat aged rhymes of Fear Of A Black Planet still capturing the eternal screams of black youth that was able to use positive music as a communication device. While they are by no means rookies at this point in their career, Public Enemy shows a dedication to making Fear Of A Black Planet as substantial as it could have been at the time of release. The works of the catchy following track, “911 Is A Joke,” echoes of history stay stamped with fresh ink. Toasting to a hook that is more memorable than half of the other artist’s entire discography in the rap game, Flavor Flav describes, “So get up, get, get, get down, 911 is a joke in yo town. Get up, get, get, get down, late 911 wears the late crown.” As a mockery of police enforcement through rap in the ’90s was no surprise, this was two years after N.W.A.’s “Fuck Tha Police” which capsulized the scrutiny that came with being a young, black, successful artist across America.
As Fear Of A Black Planet stands fist-clenched to be a silent protector and less of a shouting dictator, the Public Enemy logo burns into a planet the size of Earth that is soon to be eclipsing. As a symbol of status and power, Fear Of A Black Planet shined less gold and more muscle with the intimidation factor behind the performance. Almost every second of Public Enemy’s third studio record leads up to the exploding point of funk tension where “Welcome To The Terrordome” shatters backboards with one of hip-hop’s greatest joints pressed to wax. Spitting four separate verses over the five-minute and 26-second song gives aggression over a ‘68 Olympics closed-fist salute.
With one man’s struggle turning to another man’s pleasure, Fear Of A Black Planet continues to have relevance as a snapshot of rebellion through airwaves. As the 1990 release turns the corner into near 30-years of burning flames, Public Enemy rises up once again and strikes through the night as a Black Panther coalition.