Been completely gorging myself on vintage Rakim this week. All that charisma! All that talent! It shouldn’t be allowed.
Even the older videos are all utterly hypnotic, utterly awesome. Highlight of the lot, though, has to be the video for “I Ain’t No Joke,” where no less of a scene-stealer than Flavor Flav himself pops up, moonlighting on a still young Public Enemy (cheating on Chuck D, if you ask me) and pulling some terrific twitching, twisting, not-quite-the-full-ticket dance moves to Eric B’s lead-heavy scratching.
Directed by Vivien Goldman. You can read about behind the scenes making of the video here.
Public Enemy’s explosion onto the American music scene in the mid-to-late-‘80s transformed the musical views of a lot of people, myself included. These guys were the full package. Sonically they fused hardcore New York rap style with militant black power lyrics and a dense, bombastic sample-heavy rhythm attack. Visually, they had a solidly political graphic style and tough, utilitarian fashion sense that accentuated their revolutionary attitude. PE were a dream come true for dorky college students like me who were in love with both serious anarcho-punk bands like the then-recently defunct Crass and black music in general—especially hip-hop. Their 1988 album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is a landmark in American pop music.
PE marks their entrance into collectors’ posterity via a 3-CD/3-DVD-photo-book-and-t-shirt box set with a new video for their summer single, “Say It Like It Really Is,” shot in the surprisingly peaceful surroundings of Niagra Falls. Older, but still dangerous minds.
After the jump: a 2007 video re-contextualizing of P.E.’s 1999 tune “I”, with Chuck D. surveying New Orleans’ Ninth Ward…