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Public Enemy

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Public Enemy, also known as P.E., is a seminal Golden Age era Hip-Hop group known for their densely layered production and politically charged lyrics demonstrating their interest in the concerns of the African American community.

PE formed in Long Island, New York, in 1982 around a WBAU radio show as Spectrum City. After one less-than-successful single, they regrouped and signed to the still developing Def Jam record label after Rick Rubin heard Chuck D freestyling on a demo. Their debut, ‘Yo! Bum Rush The Show’, was released in 1987 to mild critical acclaim, although the Hip-Hop climate changed dramatically due to sampling during the time of release. As a response, they went on to release the revolutionary ‘It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’ in 1988, which performed better in the charts than their previous release, and included the hit single ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’.

Slightly less militant than their previous releases Public Enemy’s, ‘Fear Of A Black Planet’ was officially recognised as being the most successful and influential of the Public Enemy recordings when, in 2004, it became one of 50 recordings, chosen that year by the Library of Congress, to be added to the National Recording Registry. Sales-wise it was the most successful of any of their albums to date. It included the powerful and controversial singles ‘911 is a Joke’ (which criticized emergency response units for taking longer to arrive at emergencies in the black community than those in the white community), and ‘Fight the Power’, which is considered by many to be the group’s premier self-describing anthem.

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