Monday, April 16, 1990
The Michigan Daily
. Public Enemy
Fear of a Black Planet
I won't even attempt to pussy-
foot around the issues that caused
Public Enemy to come to power.
America is, as Chuck D. and Profes-
sor Griff have asserted for so long, a
breeding ground for revolution.
America's color scheme is too con-
stricting for its people. Asians are
not Yellows, Native Americans are
not Reds, Indians are not Browns.
The powers that be have been play-
ing their games for too long, and
after more than 256 years, the pawns
have had enough. Quite simply,
whenever a Black and a White person
come together, the child will be
Black. There is no half Black, just as
there is no half White. This is why
the dominant gene, Black, is such a
threat to so many. As Chuck D
says, many Americans fear a Black
America, let alone a Black planet.
The first track, "Contract on the
World Love Jam," is a non-vocal
piece that reviews the situation that
PE has been in for the past six
months, with the group's future be-
ing constantly threatened. The track
opens many options for the LP's pa-
rameters with its harmonic melo-
drama. This is followed by one of
the most optimistic raps Chuck has
ever released, "Brothers Gonna Work
it Out." Over a strangulated guitar
distortion, he does not exhort but
rather promises a united Black race.
His trump card is, judging from
"history not his story," the fact that
an African American who knows
her/his past cannot be deterred from
building a proper future.
The next track, "911 Is a Joke,"
does a better job of telling you to
get up, get into it and get involved
than anything PE has ever done.
Flavor-Flav is lampin' about how
the police will not be coming, over
party noise of all things. "You bet-
ter wake up and smell the real Fla-
vor/ 'cause 911 is a fake lifesaver,"
he says. Rather than telling people
for the umpteenth time to rise, the
cold lamper suggests that only you
can protect yourself in the ghetto.
Likewise, the mind-blowing "Polly-
wanacraka" is subtly, cleverly effec-
tive, with Chuck drawling in a slyly
distorted voice about the last great
American taboo - miscegenation.
The tune is, among other things,
much better at lampooning street
humor than so many Ruthless
"Burn Hollywood Burn" pos-
sesses the same bold revolutionary
spirit as NWA's "Fuck tha Police,"
exploding subject matter that Black
people, if not me personally, have
always wanted to hear. The fact is,
NO progressive, sensible African
American in the year 1990 wants to
hear about idiotic, sycophantic
garbage like "Driving Miss Daisy."
Refer to Robert Townsend for further
news. Among syncopated whistles,
brass hits and riotous screams,
Chuck explains his problem with
the movies: "It'll take a Black one to
move me." The move to rap with Ice
Cube and Big Daddy Kane shows a
great display of unity, with three dif-
ferent classes of rappers all coming
together to diss a common enemy.
Big Daddy Kane's ever-formidable
vernacular is the most devastating
weapon here, as he explains Holly-
wood's assault of oppressive roles,
"butlers and maids, slaves and hoes."
His final line is the most lethal:
"For what they play Aunt Jemima is
the perfect term - even if now she
got a perm/ there's nothing that the
Black man could use to earn
BURN hollywood BURN."
The last cut on this side, a party
track titled "Power to the People," is
followed by a sonic collage of cries
for freedom. This bold move entails
come to life at
by Satik Andriassian 4
TONIGHT the composition department of the School of Music will
present the fifth and last Composers' Forum of the year, displaying a
variety of works ranging from solo vocal and instrumental pieces to
chamber choir pieces. The works in tonight's concert are the final product
of undergraduate and graduate composition students' experiments with
rhythm, harmony, melodic structure and other elements of music.
Experimenting with these elements is one of the most important aspects
of composing; the opportunity to hear their works performed is invaluable
in helping the composer develop his or her unique language and style. At
the same time, preparing for the performance encourages an interaction
between composers and performers, giving the performers a better
understanding and appreciation of new works.
Despite little campus-wide recognition, the Forum has a long and
active history. Initiated in 1948 by professor and composer-in-residence
emeritus Ross Lee Finney, the Forums showcased not only student
compositions but also works by established composers. This was
necessary in order to expand the programming of a then-small department;
and to provide a much-needed venue for contemporary music on
See FORUM, page 9
Public Enemy is back for more confrontation with their new album , Fear
of a Black Planet
still more drama, or at the very least,
better things to come for the next
side. Indeed, "Who Stole the Soul?"
utterly crushes music industry
pimps, while the title track segues
into a brilliant chorus. In yet another
distorted voice, Chuck says, "Excuse
us for the news, you may not be
amused/ but did you know White
comes from Black? No need to be
confused." And further along, the
lyrical terrorist turns to a decidedly
different side, preaching love of all
things. The line "All I want is peace
and love on this planet" would've
seemed curiously out of place on Yo!
Bum Rush the Show. What's more,
race mixing would seem to be the
most unlikely topic to follow up
with the furious "Revolutionary
And as if mixed messages are not
bad enough, Public Enemy's overall
theme remains utterly confused as
the content changes over some more.
Flavor-Flav's solo track, "Can't Do
Nuttin' For Ya Man," tells a street
parasite where to go. Terminator X's
body-checking "Leave This Off Your
Fuckin' Charts" gives a blessed re-
cess from all the proselytizing as
well. And the former backside to
"Black Steel," "B-Side Wins Again,"
contains one of the funkiest beats of
But including the inexplicable
"Reggie Jax," these tracks form a
shaky pretext to the supposed cli-
max, "War at 33 and 1/3." The lyrics
are as intentionally dense as the title
is misleading. Chuck attacks dissen-
sion, social waste, religious hypo-
crisy, the oppressive nature of Chris-
tianity and evangelism, feds, the ma-
jority and Uncle Sam, all in less
than four minutes. The LP ends with
the previously released "Fight the
Power," a resolution that is climac-
tic enough but still disappointing.
It's as if Chuck, Eric "Vietnam"
Sadler and Hank Shocklee ran out of
earth-shaking ideas, and so conve-
niently left a bottom line that we'd
all recognize. But this is a small
gripe - after all, PE remain artists,
not politicians, and this is their tour
Then again, the track also recalls
the end of the last LP, "Party For
Your Right to Fight," which at the
very least opened doors and provoked
thought about PE's true politics.
While their first two albums are
clearly forerunners, given Chuck D's
ultimate goal of a mind revolution
this one should stand on its own.
The final blurb, with an interviewer
asking "Wh'at is the future for Public
Enemy?" is more prophetic than
anything else on the record. If Fear
of a Black Planet does in fact suc-
ceed in its objective, there will not
be any need for a fourth album.
-Forrest Green III
(Thursday is part of the weekend
I descended into the plane of the
preppy Beast with some trepidation,
which proved well-founded: the evil
anti-stoner icon Izod was spotted
within 30 minutes. Fortunately, Lee
Atwater was not present though. For
the amount of would-be rebels
smoking death sticks there, it was
amazing how few had actually
brought a lighter with them.
The Lonnie Brooks blues band
delivered as expected, though. Lon-
nie Brooks Jr. led the band so well
that I'll wager that in 2010, when
indie bands all over the world are
busy ripping off Big Chief and Mol
Triffid, a Brooks blues band of ope
sort or another will still be wowing
the half of the crowd at Rick's tha
knew they were coming. The true lt-
traction of the night was Mr. Brooks
Sr., who can play that guitar jist
like he's ringing a bell, as the man
said of another country boy downin
Louisiana across the railroad tracks.
In the end, the 400-penny price of
admission for two hours of searing
Chicago blues was well worth it.
With the 1,850 pennies saved by not
attending Stevie Ray Vaughn, on*
could buy a lot of beer. On the other
hand, Michigan Theater attendees
were probably not subjected to a
continous Miller Genuine Draft
advertisement from the stage.
I guess when it comes to seeing
live blues, you have to pick your
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