Public Enemy

Public Enemy Headshot

Band

Members: Chuck D, Flavor Flav

Combining the imposing delivery of Chuck D with the comedic flow of Flavor Flav, Public Enemy were the most revolutionary, provocative and most important act to emerge from the golden age of hip-hop.

Carlton Ridenhour and William Drayton first met at Long Island's Adelphi College in the early '80s and after putting out a tape named Public Enemy #1, the pair adopted their more familiar monikers of Chuck D and Flavor Flav, added DJ Terminator X and Minister of Information Professor Griff to their line-up, and assembled a production team, The Bomb Squad, whose abrasive sampling-heavy approach helped power the group's politically-charged and socially-conscious rhymes.

Despite the initial reluctance of label boss Rick Rubin, who believed Flav - famous for wearing wacky sunglasses and an oversized clock around his neck - detracted from Chuck D's powerful rhetoric, the group signed to Def Jam in 1986 and a year later released critically-acclaimed debut album, Yo! Bum Rush the Show.

The group then fulfilled their goal of making hip-hop's equivalent of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On with 1987's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, a truly seminal record credited with ushering in a new wave of black consciousness.

After recording the theme to Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" (1989), the group fired Professor Griff over anti-Semitic comments he made to The Washington Post, and briefly disbanded before returning with 1990's Fear of a Black Planet, a typically fearless affair which entered the US Top 10.

Follow-up Apocalypse 91 The Enemy Strikes Back fared even better, peaking at No.4 on the Billboard 200 and spawning their first Top 50 hit, while its reworking of "Bring the Noise" with thrash metal giants Anthrax is widely recognized as the invention of nu-metal.

1994's Muse Sick-n-Hour Message was the first Public Enemy album to receive mixed reviews, but after an eventful break in which DJ Lord replaced Terminator X, Professor Griff rejoined the fold and Chuck D retired the band from touring, they returned to form with the soundtrack to basketball drama "He Got Game" (1998).

In 1999, Public Enemy became one of the first major acts to debut an album on the internet with There's a Poison Goin' On, and although their commercial appeal waned over the following decade, the likes of 2002's Revolverlution, 2005's New Whirl Odor and 2006's collaborative album with California rapper Paris, Rebirth of a Nation, all proved they still remained as vital as ever.

Tenth album, How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul first hit stores in 2007, but third single, "Harder Than You Think," became an unexpected UK Top 5 hit five years later when it soundtracked Channel 4's London Olympics coverage.

Later that year, the group released two albums, Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp and The Evil Empire of Everything, while after their 2013 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, they added to their legacy with 2015's Man Plans God Laughs.

Credits

A Grammy Salute to 50 Years of Hip Hop

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2023

iHeartRadio Music Festival

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2023

The 65th Annual Grammy Awards

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2023

Public Enemy: Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya, Man!

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2021

Public Enemy: I Stand Accused

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2021

Anthrax & Public Enemy: Bring Tha Noize

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2021

The BET Awards 2020

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2020

Loud and Clear

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2020

Public Enemy: Grid

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2020

Public Enemy Feat. Mike D, Ad-Rock & Run DMC: Public Enemy Number Won

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2020

Public Enemy: Public Enemy Number Won

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2020

Public Enemy Feat. Cypress HIll; George Clinton: GRID

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2020

90s CultureIcons

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2019

'80s Def Jam

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2019

'90s Def Jam

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2019

The Late Show With Stephen ColbertStream

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2015

Public Enemy: Live From Metropolis Studios

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2015

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy FallonStream

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2014

Glastonbury 2013

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2013

SXSW Live: Public Enemy, Ice Cube, LL Cool J

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2013

Holiday Hell 1995

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2012

Rock Hall Of Fame

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2012

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

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2009

Hip Hop Politics

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2007

Public Enemy: Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos

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2007

Public Enemy vs. Benny Benassi: Bring the Noise (Remix)

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2007

Public Enemy: Don't Believe the Hype

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2007

Jimmy Kimmel Live!Stream

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2003

Public Enemy: Shut 'Em Down

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1991

Public Enemy: Can't Truss It

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1991

Public Enemy: 911 Is a Joke

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1990

Public Enemy: Fight the Power

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1989

Saturday Night LiveStream

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1975

Great PerformancesStream

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Franchise
1972