Artist: Public Enemy
Album: Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp
Label: Enemy Records/SpitDigital
“I ain’t mad at evolution, but I stand for Revolution…”
Public Enemy, “Get Up, Stand Up”, 2012
Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp is the latest LP from the self-described Rolling Stones of Hip-Hop, Public Enemy. Purportedly recorded largely with funding from fan-subsidized musician website Sellaband, the 11-track digital-exclusive LP (now available at traditional retailers) is the first official studio album by the band since 2007’s How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People who Sold their Soul. Here, Chuck D and company offer a contemporary album that embraces preaching but avoids pandering.
Liner-notes literati will see familiar names from PE’s millennial-era production camp, including C-Doc, G-Wiz, and Johnny Juice. This time around, however, the band also reached out to several golden-age personalities for production duties and guest vocals. Among them are Large Professor and Cormega (on “Catch the Thrown”) and Bumpy Knuckles (a.k.a. Freddie Foxxx) on “Get it In”, among others. Live instruments slip in and out, including a nice guitar solo on leadoff track “Run ‘Til it’s Dark.”
“I Shall Not Be Moved” finds Chuck offering elder-statesman swagger over funk-guitar licks with comic partner Flavor Flav. “Hoover Music” is an oblique answer record to Rick Ross’s “BMF”, making a comparison to the FBI’s anti-black-power initiative COINTELPRO and today’s “trap star” themes in Hip-Hop: “You got the mic, peoples suppose screet cred, the radio, the TV, the worldwide web, but we can’t do nothing with what you said, sounds like somebody’s in bed with the feds..” “Truth Decay” (produced by Sam Sever of 3rd Bass fame) finds Chuck demanding what’s real beyond “keep it real” catchphrases: “Opinion’s what it is, and it’s all up to you/ challenge information, to see if it’s true/ and never have so many been screwed by so few..”
Run DMC’s Darryl McDaniels guests on “Rltk”: the retro-80s styled cut gives Chuck and D-Mac a spare, beats-and-bass platform to rant on: “I go hard for the people in the streets (real talk) the king of the rhyme and the beat (real talk)… Adidas is the sneakers on my feet.. and it’s the children in the streets we gotta reach…” Though McDaniels can’t scream like he used to, it’s one of the standouts on the LP.
Hip-Hop’s been around long enough to have its own generation gap. For sure, all ages are welcome for PE’s latest, but Most of My Heroes is an album for mature Hip-Hop sensibilities.
Christopher ‘Hype’ Currie