Public Enemy – “Fear of a Black Planet” Anniversary Album Review

Public Enemy – “Fear of a Black Planet” Album Anniversary

Public Enemy’s third studio album “Fear of a Black Planet” was released of April 10 1990.  It was produced by The Bomb Squad and is Public Enemy’s most commercially successful album selling over 2 million albums to date.

The album begins with a mega mix of sorts before we get a blast of positivity with “Brother’s Gonna Work It Out” where Chuck exclaims,

“So many of us in limbo
How to get it on, it’s quite simple
3 stones from the sun
We need a piece of this rock
Our goal indestructible soul
Answers to this quizzin’
To the Brothers in the street, schools and the prisons
History shouldn’t be a mystery
Our stories real history
Not his story
We gonna work it one day
Till we all get paid
The right way in full, no bull
Talkin’, no walkin’, drivin’, arrivin’ in style
Soon you’ll see what I’m talkin’ ’bout
‘Cause one day
The brothers gonna work it out
Brothers, brothers gonna work it out!”

But Chuck D is not the only one with lyrical skill.  Don’t sleep on Flavor Flav!  On “911 Is A Joke” he reminds us all about how slow the 911 Emergency Services can react when dealing with people from the “other side of the tracks”.  The mixture of seriousness with Flavor Flav comedy makes for a dope track.

One of PE’s greatest tracks of all time is included in this album.  “Welcome to the Terrordome” goes for the jugular.  The beginning of the track gives you a warning that what you are about to hear, is something you haven’t heard before.  Who can forget “I got so much trouble on my mind…”?  Chuck D even goes after a certain group that made him drop the leader of the S1W’s with the lines,

“Crucifixion ain’t no fiction
So called chosen frozen
Apology made to who ever pleases
Still they got me like Jesus
I rather sing, bring, think reminisce
‘Bout a brother while I’m in sync
Every brother ain’t a brother cause a color
Just as well could be undercover
Backstabbed, grabbed a flag
From the back of the lab
Told a Rab get off the rag
Sad to say I got sold down the river
Still some quiver when I deliver
Never to say I never know or had a clue
Word was heard, plus hard on the boulevard
Lies, scandalizin’, basin’
Traits of hate who’s celebratin’ wit satan?
I rope a dope the evil with righteous
Bobbin’ and weavin’ and let the good get even
C’mon down
And welcome to the Terrordome”

On “Anti N*gger Machine” we get Chuck talking about corrupt cops and how they kill more blacks in the hood than other blacks.  He even gives us a glimpse of what the brothers in Cali were talking about (N.W.A) with the final verse,

“Instead of peace the police
Just wanna wreck and flex
On the kid
What I did was try to be the best
So they fingered the trigger
Figured I was a bigger n*gger
And started to search me
So I headed west
Went to Cali a rally
Was for a brothers death
It was the fuzz who shot him
An not da blood or cuzz
I wondered why it was like
So I just held my mic
But in my mind I was blind
So I just tried to find
A reason we was quick
Just the way that we was
So I just stayed in the crib
Until I got a buzz…”

We also get a rare posse cut with “Burn Hollywood Burn” where Chuck, Ice Cube and Big Daddy Kane all drop memorable versus about how Hollywood “exploits the color” and gives blacks derogatory roles in every movie.  BDK steals the show with his memorable verse.

“As I walk the streets of Hollywood Boulevard
Thinkin’ how hard it was to those that starred
In the movies portrayin’ the roles
Of butlers and maids slaves and hoes
Many intelligent Black men seemed to look uncivilized
When on the screen
Like a guess I figure you to play some jigaboo
On the plantation, what else can a n*gger do
And Black women in this profession
As for playin’ a lawyer, out of the question
For what they play Aunt Jemima is the perfect term
Even if now she got a perm
So let’s make our own movies like Spike Lee
Cause the roles being offered don’t strike me
There’s nothing that the Black man could use to earn
Burn Hollywood burn”

We also get to hear Chuck D praise Black women on “Revolutionary Generation” and Flavor Flav drops comedy on “I Can’t Do Nothin For Ya Man”, but there are some tracks like “Meet The G That Killed Me” and “Reggie Jax” that could’ve easily been deleted from the album.  The one track that I remember playing over and over again and is that gem that heads forget about is “B Side Wins Again” where Chuck sounds like he’s rapping from a phone (True Mathematics style) and seems as if he just can’t stop rapping.  “Fight The Power” finishes off the album and as soon as the track ends you hear Chuck responding to a question about the future of the group as he answers “The future of Public Enemy gotta…”  We later find out that they weren’t quite ready to retire just yet.

Revolutionary album from a revolutionary group!  Salute!

-Al E.

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  1. I always felt this was their best work after “Nations”. Even remember “Can’t Do Nothing For You Man” was used in the movie Three Kings. I agree that “Reggae Jax” should have been left off the album. After Apocalypse 91. The group went down hill with the Greatest Misses album. Though the singles they released for the album were great.

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