Veteran rap group Public Enemy has made a career of crafting socially and politically charged songs. From one album to the next, the group – Chuck D. Flava Flav, Terminator X, and the S1Ws – has made sure listeners know that it has gotten anything but complacent. At times controversial and at others uniting, this group’s work has proven time and again why it is one of the rap genre’s most important and respected acts. Its latest album What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? Is no exception to that rule. That is proven in part through the musical content featured in the 17-song record’s presentation. That content will be discussed shortly. The lyrical content that accompanies the record’s musical content does just as much as that noted material to make the album so strong. It will be discussed a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will be discussed later, too. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this album. All things considered, the 43-minute album proves itself to be the absolute best of this year’s new rap and hip-hop albums.
Public Enemy’s latest album What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? is another powerful offering from the veteran rap group that audiences will enjoy. That is proven in part through the record’s musical content. The musical content that is featured throughout the course of the record’s 17 songs largely continue a tradition that the group has held ever since its early days. Rather than using a bunch of keyboards, auto tuning and everything else that so much rap and hip-hop uses today, the group has opted once more, to go old school and use turntables and specific samples and electronics. What’s really interesting here is that there are also some guitars incorporated into the songs, to give that vintage approach and sound a slight modern touch without losing any of that old school air. It is an approach that proves that if something’s not broken, there’s no need to fix it. Even more appealing is the fact that while the arrangements maintain the group’s familiar old school sound and stylistic approach, they are not just rehashing of the group’s past works. There is still plenty of originality here even with that familiarity to make the record’s musical content so appealing. This is just one of the most important aspects of Public Enemy’s new album that audiences will appreciate. The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical content strengthens the record’s appeal even more.
The lyrical content that is featured in Public Enemy’s new album follows a familiar tradition, much as its musical arrangements. From start to end, the record’s lyrical content hits hard. There are even some moments in this record that some might find controversial, which again is not a surprise considering that this is Public Enemy. Right from the album’s outset, Chuck D. and company take on the nation’s addiction to technology, going so far as to say, “Folks might have to pick up a book/Pick up a pen/hey, back to basics again.” From there, Chuck D notes that ironically, if the grid does go down, the issue of police brutality, but that there will be less way to prove it, showing that balance of the good and bad of technology in a short span. More than once, the group goes after outgoing President Donald Trump in ‘Toxic’ and the album’s single, ‘State of the Union (STFU).’ ‘Fight The Power: Remix 2020’ takes the group’s classic song and steps it up for the new age, bringing in Nas, ?uestlove, Jahi, Rhapsody, Black Thought and YG for the song. In the case of this update, reminds audiences of certain history, and pointing out once again, who killed George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. YG makes the statement while also taking his own verbal swing at Trump in his verse while Chuck D points out the racism spewed by Elvis and John Wayne. It should be stressed here that Chuck D and company are not saying that all white Americans are to blame. They are stressing that there are certain elements within America that are causing the problems and that they just want unity. It is really the strongest of the album’s lyrical statements and will resonate so much with listeners. Between that content, the other noted here and the rest of the album’s lyrical themes, the content in whole proves to be its own strong point for this album. It is just one more of the album’s most important elements. The album’s production rounds out its most important elements.
There is a lot going on in each of the songs featured in Public Enemy’s new album lyrically and musically. From verse changes to all of the old school and modern elements incorporated into the record, there is a lot of content here. That means a lot of time and effort had to happen in order to balance it all. Thanks to the work of those behind the glass, it did in fact all balance out. ‘Public Enemy Number Won’ is proof positive of that. Between the electronics, the turntables, the lines from Beastie Boys members Adrock and Mike D, and Run DMC, Flava Flav’s verses and those from Chuck D, so much is happening here. Listening to this song, it is clear that a lot is happening, yet it comes across as controlled chaos almost. It collectively makes for such an appealing song. ‘Smash The Crowd (ft. Ice-T and PMD)’ has its own share of things happening, between the guitars, beats, rapping and electronics. It sounds so busy, but yet once more, there is so much control that actually makes it all blend together and balance. It all comes together to show in its own way, the painstaking efforts that were taken to make all the elements work so well together. On another note, the production of ‘State of the Union (STFU)’ was clearly easier as that song’s musical content was not as complex as the record’s other songs. Featured here are Chuck D and Flava Flav rapping over an old school beat and sample. That’s pretty much it. It would have been easy for this song’s production to be phoned in considering its minimalist approach, but that didn’t happen. Even here, everything is balanced so well together. When it is considered along with the success in the production of the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s songs, the result is a record that proves just as enjoyable for the sound of its content as for its content.
Public Enemy’s latest album What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? is everything that audiences have come to expect from the group over the course of its life. That is not a bad thing, though. Its musical arrangements bring audiences a familiar old school hip-hop stylistic approach and sound without just rehashing the sounds of its past albums. The arrangements are original while stylistically being original. The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical content adds to its appeal because it is just as hard hitting and at times controversial as that of the band’s exiting lyrical content. The record’s production balances all of the musical content and vocal delivery expertly from start to end. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, the album proves to be another powerful offering from Public Enemy that is also the best of this year’s best new rap and hip-hop albums. What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Public Enemy’s latest news at:
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