It's been 25 years since Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" upended hip-hop and much of pop culture with "1989 -- the number, another summer, sound of the funky drummer."
But Public Enemy's Chuck D isn't looking back. He's too focused on the next fights. His new "The Black in Man" (Spitdigital) EP takes on the PIC (prison-industrial complex) in the straightforward "PIC I Hate Every Inch of You" and corporately held radio stations in the metal-fueled rager "Grudge."
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer saves his sharpest lines for urban radio -- especially Hot 97. He's been battling the hip-hop radio station since its Summer Jam concert and what he believes is its disrespect for hip-hop fans.
In "Get It Right or Be Gone," Chuck declares, "We ain't in the same game. I point my finger at you. The problem is you. Shuttin' you down 'cause you tearin' us down."
It's pretty potent stuff, especially when combined with his efforts to make radio stations more responsible to their local communities by requiring them to play more local artists.
However, that doesn't mean "The Black in Man" is a lecture. Like his best work with Public Enemy, Chuck offers his viewpoints so cleverly over such powerful beats that it's entertaining as well as thought provoking.
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The first single, "Give We the Pride," featuring the great Mavis Staples, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer in her own right, is a funk-filled winner, where Staples sings, "We need pride to survive" and Chuck rhymes, "Give 'em hope, give 'em love, give 'em pride, instead of turning raps into little old traps."
They want people to be proud of themselves, not what they own. It's a message Chuck D lives every day.