52 IN 52

The 52 Albums that define my love for music

Album 22/Week 22

Who: Public Enemy - Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black

When: 1991

Why:  Bring the Noize!!! The only Rap-Metal that ever needed to happen.  This record has it all.  Chuck D's lyrics are history lessons. They're brilliant and informing. Public Enemy had been around for a while and had made a name for themselves by the time this record came around, but they really busted through to kids like me with this record.  This record was the first hip-hop record that I started to memorize lyrics by writing them down, and started to understand them. My previous hip-hop experiences were kinda silly hip-hop and then straight into gangster rap... this record connected the two. This was real hip-hop to me. This record was a catalyst to all the great hip-hop I would jump into in the coming years. Plus, while Public Enemy embraced their past and were proud of where they came from, they also talked about respect for their fellow man and incorporated that into their music. That's what stuck with me.

When: I've seen P.E. a couple times, and they're still one of the best live shows around.


In 6th grade, I saw that video, and was hooked.  Mike Sobey and I went to the Record Exchange, bought the tape and both bought PE shirts (the black one with the silver ENEMY script on the front, and the target on the back) because we thought they were cool. We had no idea of meaning or their message. We just knew that the music was different, the things they said and did were different, and we loved it. Also, this record has the best opening song of a hip-hop album of all time. When it hits, it's hard not to get hyped. We wore those shirts every day that summer.  I didn't understand anything about Public Enemy. I knew Chuck D was the guy that rapped, and Flavor Flav was the one with the clock. Thats it.

As time went by, and I got older and was able to obtain their previous albums, I started to understand more about what Public Enemy stood for and why they were so important. Like I said, Chuck D told history lessons.  He is still one of the best lyricists that I've ever heard.  Even though this record is my personal favorite, its not their best...and picking a "best" P.E. record is like picking the best ice cream flavor, you just can't do it.  Public Enemy was political, which was something I hadn't heard of yet. To me, music was more about the music itself, and not the message.. Public Enemy changed all that for me.

P.E. faded slightly out of the 90's until Flavor Flav showed back up into the spotlight in the mid-2000's on reality TV....which in my opinion(and probably Chuck D's), kinda overshadowed what P.E. had done for music.  Although, put Flav on stage, and you have yourself a rock star. Last time I saw P.E. play, Flav played every instrument, as well as holding his reign as best hype man of all time.

Public Enemy's legacy is now solidified in the Rock Hall, as it should be. They were the voice of millions of people, and they made music about what they knew and what they believed in.  They influenced a generation of hip-hop and rock artists, including me: a young white kid in the suburbs.