You were expecting maybe a cheerful title? Go buy a Marilyn McCoo record. This is Public Enemy, the Long Island gang that put manifesto rap on the map, delivering another album of blunt, militant hip hop.
Principal rhetorician Chuck D rails against racism in “By the Time I Get to Arizona,” “Shut Em Down” and “Can’t Truss It,” which equates our modern social injustices with slavery. In “How to Kill a Radio Consultant,” he blasts urban radio stations “Programmed by a sucker in a suit/Slick back hair, he don’t even live here.” In “1 Million Bottle-bags,” he trains his ire on the marketing of malt liquor and fortified wine to black neighborhoods.
The dense, industrial-tinged production by Public Enemy’s new crew of producers calling themselves the Imperial Grand Ministers of Funk isn’t quite up to the furious standards set by the group’s former console kings, the Bomb Squad. But it has its moments, such as the sirenlike background to “Lost at Birth,” which sounds like a prison break, and the hypnotic sway of “Shut Em Down.”
This release isn’t quite as astringent or impressive as its predecessor Fear of a Black Planet. But Public Enemy is still serving up deep-dish anger. Their vehemence is invigorating. (Def Jam/Columbia)