Socialist Worker

Public Enemy release a nostalgic album for new struggles

by Sam Ord
Issue No. 2725

The album cover for What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? harks back to some of Public Enemys past glories

The album cover for What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? harks back to some of Public Enemy's past glories

Fans have been waiting for Public Enemy to drop their new album What you Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? since they returned to the Def Jam label in August.

No doubt, Chuck D has managed to inject serious, hard lyrics to match the current pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement.

Never one to shy away from complex political issues, Chuck D hits back hard against the establishment and US elite throughout the album.

But unlike the early Public Enemy this album doesn’t have the energy to inspire millions.

The album has several high points.

Listening to State of the Union for the first time made me feel like Public Enemy had returned to ’90s Brooklyn.

Collaborations with Cypress Hill, Nas and Mike D are all also welcome. But prioritising nostalgia hasn’t appeared to win the fans over.

The track Rest in Beats made it clear to me that this is about trying to inject Public Enemy’s past experiences and talents into the new wave of struggle.

One track definitely overshadows the whole album. Public Enemy have remixed the classic Fight The Power, 31 years after the original was released.

With police brutality in the headlines and Trump in the White House the track couldn’t have landed at a better time.

The addition of the female artist Rapsody and their incredible flow really makes this track special.

It’s a shame that most of the other tracks don’t include female artists.

But the lyrics, “Our fight and our rights for freedom will never wane, but justice for Breonna Taylor, Salute Chuck and Flava” and, “The next generation still singing, ‘Fight the Power’” show that Public Enemy will always be part of the struggle.

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Fri 2 Oct 2020, 15:59 BST
Issue No. 2725
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