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Public Enemy – 'What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?' Album Review


1. When The Grid Goes Down ft. George Clinton

2. Grid ft. Cypress Hill and George Clinton

3. State Of The Union (STFU) ft. DJ Premier

4, Merica Mirror ft. Pop Diesel

5. Public Enemy Number Won ft. Mike D, Ad-Rock, Run-DMC

6. Toxic

7. Yesterday Man ft. Daddy-O

8. Crossroads Burning (Interlude) ft. James Bomb

9. Fight The Power: Remix 2020 ft. Nas, Rapsody, Black Thought, Jahi, YG, Questlove

10. Beat Them All

11. Smash The Crowd ft.. Ice-T, PMD

12. If You Can’t Join Em Beat Em

13. Go At It ft. Jahi

14. Don’t Look At The Sky (Interlude) ft. Mark Jenkins

15. Rest In Beats ft. The Impossebulls

16. R.I.P. Blackat

17. Closing: I Am Black” ft. Ms. Ariel

Where do you start with reviewing this album? For many years now Public Enemy have been an articulate, if at times understandably angry, voice for many people who have felt left out of the American Dream. Chuck D had become the elder statesman of politically conscious Rap but what often seems forgotten about Public Enemy is what an excellent band they are.

If you’re in any doubt about how well respected they are in the music world have a look at the number, and quality, of guest artists appearing on this album. It’s like the ultimate Rap supergroup.

What Public Enemy have done so well for a long time now is marry their Raps with perfect beats, they create soundscapes to back up their messages which draw you in and make you want to wave your hands in the air like you really do care!

This new album has a mix of the kind of full on, confrontational songs you would expect from the band alongside more interesting and, at times, challenging songs.

If you’re not hooked by ‘When The Grid Goes Down’ or ‘State Of The Union’ surely you can’t resist the 2020 reboot of their classic ‘Fight The Power’?

I don’t think it was ever in doubt where this album would stand with regards to the current incumbent of the White House but it’s made very clear early on, if anything, personally, I was surprised it wasn’t more full on in its intent, maybe Chuck D has mellowed slightly as time has gone on or he’s just trying not to become too bogged down in going after an easy target as he’s never taken the easy route before. It doesn’t matter though, he still one of the truly eloquent voices within Rap, you are never in doubt what he’s trying to say and, personally, I think we need Public Enemy more than ever in these confusing and troubling times.

It’s not just an anti Trump album, it’s not even close to it. This album is so much more, Chuck doesn’t pull his punches on anything he Raps about and the constantly changing nature of the beats he Raps over just adds to what is an impressive album. I listened to this album a few times and I wanted to join the revolution! The revolution may not be televised but it will have the best soundtrack.

Review - Iain McClay

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