Public Enemy emerged in 1987 with their debut record, "Yo! Bum Rush The Show". The album was totally different to the style of rap that was around at the time. Public Enemy built off the beats of groups like Run D.M.C. and created their own style of hardcore rap/hip-hop. Chuck D, the group's leader rapper about all kinds of social issues, particularly those affecting the black (African American) community. Flavor Flav, who was essentially Chuck D's sidekick created his own image with his gold teeth, comic sunglasses and a huge clock that dangled from his neck. Originally a classically trained pianist, Flavor Flav invented the image that was later on borrowed by rappers such as Busta Rhymes, Ol' Dirty Bastard and Juvinile.
Public Enemy's records were produced by Rick Rubin (the rock producer who has a soft spot for hip-hop). Rick has worked with many different groups, ranging from the Beastie Boys to Slayer. While Public Enemy were arguably the most influential hip-hop act of the late both in image and lyrically, the group's music was also heavily influential. The groups sounds had a lot of cut and paste in it as well as a lot of funk and heavy guitar sounds. The group's production crew, The Bomb Squad were the ones responsible for this as well as the group's lead turntableist, Terminator X.
The group's first record was entitled "Yo! Bum Rush The Show". Rock and hip-hop critics around the world fell in love with the record, despite the fact that it met it's fair share of controversy. Although many argued that "Yo! Bum Rush The Show" is just as good as anything else Public Enemy have ever done, it wasn't until the group's second record, "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back" that the group's status as one of the most important musical figures of the late 80s was solidified.
Public Enemy is (at the time of recording):
Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Terminator X and The Security Of The First World
Produced by Rick Rubin on Def Jam Recordings
Voice - Chuck D
Next Voice - Flavor Flav
Drum Programming - Hank Shocklee and Eric Sadler
Lead Scratch - Terminator X
Minimal Synth Programming - Hank Shocklee and Eric Sadler
Bass - Steve Linsley, Bill Stepheney
Guitar - Vernon Reid and Bill Stepheney
Rhythm Scratch - Johnny "Juice" Rasado
You're Gonna Get Yours
- Starts out with a quick intro and then Chuck's awesome low vocals come in. The song is based around Chuck's vocals and some awesome drumming and sampled sounds. The chorus has some really good bass work with Chuck's awesome rhyming followed by a group of male vocals yelling "You're gonna get yours!". This is a great song very badarse. A very excellent way to open up the album, as well as being one of the album's best tracks.
- The song is based around some pretty heavy, yet funky guitar playing. The guitars on this track along with the solo was all recorded by Vernon Reid of Living Color (early funk metal band) fame. The coolest part of the song is chorus where Chuck D says "She thinks she's soooophistocated". The rapping and the instrumentation of the chorus is a real highlight. Another great part of the song to watch out for is the very bad arse guitar solo. This may be the type of song to show a metalhead who says they hate rap, even if only for the kickarse guitar solo. Another of the album's best tracks. Possibly the
Miuzi Weighs A Ton
- A great track with a ton of groove. The rapping from Chuck is backed with little more than some drums and turntable scratches. The chorus is pretty much just some sampled sung sounds. This song has some great lyrics and rhymes, one of the best being "I'm a Public Enemy but I don't rob banks, I don't shoot bullets, I don't shoot blanks. A very cool track, maybe not up there with the album's best but it has a lot of groove and funk.
- This song starts with some spoken vocals from Flavor Flav. Flav is very funny, even if the actual thing that he's saying isn't all that funny. It's great how he says "Yo Chuck...we gotta do somethin' about dat man". Musically, the song has a funky guitar part with some great drumming and bass work to back it up. The rapping from Chuck in it is great again, rhythmically it fits in perfectly with the instrumentation. The song could be a bit longer, but then again if it was too much longer it would get quite boring. A great song overral.
Too Much Posse
- The song fades straight in from "Timebomb". The intro of this track is great, Flavor Flav's vocals are excellent. This is the first track on the song where Flavor Flav is the main vocallist of the track. The parts of the song where instrumentation cuts out and we are left with nothing but Flav saying "too much posse" are just great. The drumming in this song is great and there isn't a heap of other instrumentation in the song, which is fitting. Flav's vocals are easily the highlight of the song and the song's lyrics are also great.
Rightstarter (Message To A Black Man)
- One of the album's highlights. Chuck is back on vocals and he handles this track beautifully. The sampling on this song is very, very good as well as the drumming. The instrumentation and Chuck's vocals work together in perfect harmony. The chorus of the song is great, especially the first two, lines: "mind over matter, mouth in motion". The sampling of brass instruments is a big highlight of this song too. The other great thing about this track is that it's the absolute perfect length. It goes long enough as to not make you wish for more, but doesn't get too long and boring. Just great.
Public Enemy No. 1
- Another great song. The instrumentation during the verses is good and fitting with the vocals, but nothing amazing. The best parts are the choruses where Chuck just keeps repeating "one". Instrumentally, the best parts are the turntables after the choruses. The worst part of the song is the closing lyrics "this is the 80s and we can get all the ladies". A small gripe but it's just a bit of a lame ending for a good song.
- A fairly bare sounding song. The overall sound of the song is similar to the previous track as well as "Mizuzi Weighs A Ton". The best part of the song is the chorus which features a vocal sample simply saying "public, public, public enemy". The vocals of the song are quite good as well as the drumming. The vocals feature some swapping between Chuck and Flavor Flav. Pretty cool, but not even close to the album's best. Still not a bad song.
Yo! Bum Rush The Show
- A very 80s hip-hop sounding track. The verses feature Chuck rapping lyrics in time with the music. The music is excellent, especially the drumming, although it does have a pretty "corny 80s" sound to it. The intro is cool with some good vocal sampling. The chorus is the best part where Chuck just yells "yo!" and is responded by the vocal sampling saying "bum rush the show!". Flavor Flav does some very cool rapping in between choruses and verses. Flavor Flav has this thing that always makes him sound funny. Randomly in the choruses, there is the sound of a blow whistle. For some reason, it's quite funny if you look out for it.
Raise The Roof
- Good intro with some good drumming. Chuck D's vocals sound like they are from far away or something. The chorus is cool with Flavor Flav just saying "come on raise the roof". Towards the end there is some really sweet turntable work. The song isn't very fast and has a pretty 80s rap sound to it. The drumming in this song is very good especially the use of cymbals. Chuck does some great rhyming in the verses, overall making this a great song. The biggest criticism however, is that it is a bit too long and drawn out. The song drags a fair bit by the end.
- One of the album's slowest tracks. It's pretty bare sounding which makes it get boring after just a minute or so. The vocals in it are still great and the sampled effects are very cool sounding. The trade off vocals between Chuck D and Flavor Flav is easily the highlight.
Terminator X Speaks With His Hands
- One of the album's better tracks. Starts out with Flavor Flav yelling "kick that s**t!". Quite funny. The funky wah soaked guitar then comes in a starts playing some cool riffs. Flavor Flav then yells out something else and the sound of the song changes to some turntable noise and slower and more straight drumming. For a while, the noise drops out a little bit, but then comes back into the song. The track (and the album) ends with Flavor Flav yelling "yeah dat's right, kick it!". Maybe not the best possible album closer, but still a great track to listen to all the same. Good stuff.
"Yo! Bum Rush The Show" was Public Enemy's debut. While it is not as highly regarded as "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back", it is considered by many to be just as great. This was shown last year when the album made the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums Of All Time list. This record has truly stood the test of time. This album has some political messages in it as well as just being rap to listen to for fun. An excellent balance. While this album isn't perfect, it is an excellent piece of 80s hip-hop and an essential for anyone wanting to get into 80s hip-hop or Public Enemy.