Public Enemy's 'Everything': Unexpected

(L-R) Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, Terminator X, S1W

(L-R) Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, Terminator X, S1W and Chuck D of the rap group Public Enemy pose for a portrait in a studio. (Credit: Getty Images)

Glenn Gamboa

Newsday columnist Glenn Gamboa Glenn Gamboa

Glenn Gamboa writes about music for Newsday.

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Leave it to Public Enemy to do the unexpected.

Following the announcement that they would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, one of only a handful of acts to receive the honor in their first year of eligibility, most would expect the rap group from Roosevelt to raise their visibility.

They've done the opposite.

Their new single, "Everything," doesn't feature any rapping, relying on the R&B singers Gerald Albright and Sheila Brody to carry the message, "I got no private jets, but I also got no regrets," over a sweet, throwback soul backdrop. Though it isn't getting the same attention, "Everything" is just as worthy a part of the current R&B renaissance as Frank Ocean or Miguel.

The "Everything" video takes the message one step further -- featuring everyday people, instead of the band, singing the lyrics of delivering music for music's sake, instead of for monetary gain or for fame. "Never was hot, never was pop," Albright sings. "But I never ever stoppin' that real hip-hop."

Public Enemy's leader, Chuck D, told me recently that induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame means more to the group because he feels it further validates the importance of hip-hop. "We're not going to speak for ourselves," he says. "We've got to represent our constituencies -- not in a greedy way, but for the past, present and the future in this."

The unorthodox plan seems to be working. "Everything," the first single from "The Evil Empire of Everything," has gained the most attention Public Enemy has seen in years.

"Everyday people are real stars," Chuck D tweeted, thanking fans for all the support for the video and song. "We salute!"

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Contact The Long Island Sound at glenn.gamboa@newsday.com or follow @ndmusic on Twitter.