Review: Public Enemy – Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp
Published on August 15th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Righteous indignation, rallying beats, funky samples and bad-ass scratching: Public Enemy haven’t changed a bit, and – unlike with, say, Oasis – we should all be very glad of it too.
Heck, the fact that it cribs its title from the group’s own classic single “Fight the Power” should be all the proof we need that this familiar fire still burns brightly. The first of two Public Enemy albums in 2012 alone (the second, The Evil Empire of Everything, is set for a September release), Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp popped up on iTunes recently with very little forewarning or fanfare, and this is a shame because Chuck D and co still have so much of relevance to say.
That Public Enemy retain their knack for distilling their message into insanely catchy (and, dare we say it, fun) refrains is cause for celebration. If only the world at large would stop listening to Maroon 5 just long enough to take notice. Certainly this album’s opening line “Bomb drop! / Designed as a warning shot” does its best to disperse the throngs of complacent pigeons by throwing a big old cat of truth amongst them (yes, we can’t believe we just wrote that either), while the appeals to the rap community to put down their glasses of Cristal and join them in using their elevated status to highlight class and racial divides remain as assertive as ever: “You got the mic, people’s support, street cred/ The radio, the TV, the world wide web / But we can’t do nothing with what you said / Sounds like somebody’s in bed with the feds” holds the compelling chorus refrain of “Hoover Music”, while the appropriated Churchill quote “never have so many been screwed by so few” recurs mantra-like throughout proceedings.
Such memorably loaded lines come thick and fast – “The truth don’t sell a lot of records”, “At the age I am now, if I can’t teach / I shouldn’t even open my mouth to speak” and “The sound of Black America? / ‘Ouch!'” to list but a few – while six-minute closer “WTF” updates an erstwhile battle cry with “Stay the fuck off of Skype / And don’t believe the hype”. Twitter on the other hand as celebrated as a tool for linking with their fan base on “Rltk” (pronounced “Real Talk”), but otherwise the approach is decidedly faithful to tried and trusted methods, so much so that it’s hard to believe there haven’t already been Public Enemy tracks called “Get Up Stand Up”, “I Shall Not Be Moved” and “Truth Decay”.
In short: no real surprises, and nor are any required. Welcome back Chuck D, Flava Fav, Professor Griff and DJ Lord, in a fair world you wouldn’t exist, but as things are we need you out there and shouting as loud, far and wide as you can.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp is out now on Enemy Records. For more information, please visit www.publicenemy.com