(Originally posted on Move the Crowd)
This has to be the most ignorant thing I've read in a very long time - Chuck D is a signifying monkey. The author of that article, Al Barger, made several statements that must be refuted. The first of which is this:
The greatest act in rap history, by any reasonable MUSICAL consideration, would have to be the Beastie Boys- hands down. However, they don't have the cheap political rhetoric. More importantly, they're not black. I can understand how it might pain some folk that the best rap act is not black, but them's the facts. Given some of the particular racial pathologies of modern black America, that the Beasties are not just white but specifically JEWISH makes it that much worse.
The claim that the Beastie Boys are the greatest rap act is just laughable. I have much respect for the Beasties and I loved their first album. But they are by no means the greatest rap act ever. And what's with the 'MUSICAL' reference? Is Al trying to say that most rap isn't music? A 'kick and a snare' isn't good enough for you? Too tribal for ya? If I were to use Al's 'MUSICAL' stipulation, the title clearly belongs to the good Dr. Dre. Nobody can touch Dre's music. And, as I've mentioned in an earlier post, I think that Dre's 'Chronic' album is the best hip-hop album of all time. Other artists/groups that I'd put up against the Beasties are Boogie Down Productions, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, EPMD, Public Enemy, Run-D.M.C., The Roots...
The article goes on to say:
Public Enemy, on the other hand, can't be praised highly enough among many people who care about rap. Besides the appropriate skin color, PE has the perfect schtick. They're radical militant black nationalist freedom fighters. Therefore, they are Highly Important.
Except of course that they're not. They're musicians and recording artists. Chuck D makes records. He's not in any significant sense a political leader or outlaw. For being a "public enemy," about the only significant lawlessness PE has been involved with has been Flavor Flav beating his woman. Wow, what a rebel.
I think the importance of Public Enemy is that they raised the consciousness level among many Blacks. I know that I learned a lot about Black history just from listening to their lyrics, especially on the 'Nation of Millions' album. Just by Chuck dropping a name made me want to investigate to learn who and what he was talking about. But I have never looked at them as leaders. And I interpret the term 'public enemy' in a couple of ways. The first is that the Black man is generally viewed by society as 'public enemy number 1' (or at least that was the case pre-9/11). Just looking at the group's symbol - the silhouette of a Black man in the cross-hairs of a rifle - should make that point crystal clear. The second meaning of 'public enemy' is that they are doing something that the government (school systems) have never done — teaching the masses of Black people the truth about their history. In doing so the group could be viewed as 'working against the greater good' by the powers that be.