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Fear of a Black Planet
Public Enemy
Fear of a Black Planet
Genres: Pop, Rap & Hip-Hop
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1

PE's third album is dense, heavy, and urgent as a bullet. Fear of a Black Planet single-handedly added half a dozen phrases to the language, and not just from Chuck D.'s troop-rallying bellow--Flavor Flav's "911 Is a Joke"...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Public Enemy
Title: Fear of a Black Planet
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Def Jam
Original Release Date: 1/1/1990
Re-Release Date: 7/26/1994
Album Type: Explicit Lyrics
Genres: Pop, Rap & Hip-Hop
Styles: East Coast, Gangsta & Hardcore, Pop Rap
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 731452344625, 0731452344625, 074644541311, 643346022710

Synopsis essential recording
PE's third album is dense, heavy, and urgent as a bullet. Fear of a Black Planet single-handedly added half a dozen phrases to the language, and not just from Chuck D.'s troop-rallying bellow--Flavor Flav's "911 Is a Joke" is as catchy an indictment of urban policy as anyone has ever come up with. The Bomb Squad's music is complicated, challenging, terse, and totally funky, and Chuck matches it with one impassioned pronouncement after another: on Hollywood's racism, on miscegenation, on "real history / Not his story." The album ends with "Fight the Power," the group's ultimate statement of purpose, from its pounding, atonal sound collage to its furious politics. Put Black Planet on, and it's always a long, hot summer. --Douglas Wolk

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Member CD Reviews

Mike M. from SEATTLE, WA
Reviewed on 2/8/2007...
Great stuff. Came right after "It Takes a Nations of Millions" and is one of their best.

CD Reviews

The Best Rap Album Ever Made.
Alan Koslowski | Seattle, WA | 01/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"With It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back (1988), Public Enemy single-handedly shattered the limits and expanded the possibilities for hip-hop as an artist and cultural force. To that point, It Takes a Nation was the most inventive, powerful rap record ever. It's blend of diverse samples, infectious beats, and intelligent lyrics (delivered with irrepresible cogence by the band's frontman and lead rapper Chuck D) was unlike anything that preceded it. As tempting as it is to praise Public Enemy for their fiercly intelligent vision, the compelling delivery is what makes it all worthwhile. While secondary rapper Flavor Flav doesn't have Chuck D's powerful baritone or undeniable intelligence, his raps humorously compliment the groups militant ideals. Public Enemy's deft production team, aptly titled The Bomb Squad (which includes Chuck D, DJ Terminator X, and numerous studio technicians), manages to extract samples from eccletic sources, including John Coltrane, Van Halen, and speeches by Martin Luther King jr., and Malcom X. If this album had a flaw, it was that the themes were only loosely held together. All discuss African-American oppression, occasionally attacking it so ambiguously that the album sometimes feels a little unfocused. This isn't really a problem because the music is what ultimately holds this brilliant work together.In 1990, after two years of controversy and uncertainty, Public Enemy returned with Fear of a Black Planet; the most coherent, focused rap album to date. On Fear of a Black Planet, Public Enemy amazingly build on the near perfection of It Takes a Nation, elevating the music to an even higher artistic level. Fear of a Black Planet begins with an instrumental track, "Contract on the World Love Jam", that quietly describes the band's precarious situation from the previous year. Then, the album explodes into an intense, funky song that manipulates a Prince sample so creatively you probably won't recognize it. The lyrics and title assure everyone that, "Brothers Gonna Work It Out". That song sets the tone for the entire album and from that point Public Enemy takes hold and never relaxes their grip.Fear of a Black Planet is a remarkably complex record; each song seems to change gears and move in a different direction. It's unpredictable, yet it always sounds like Public Enemy knows exactly where they're going. On, "Incident at 66.6 FM", The Bomb Squad samples a call-in radio interview with Chuck D. The comments by the interviewer and numerous callers introduce the next track, "Welcome to the Terror Dome". Chuck D effectively shoots down his critics against a menacing soundscape that includes a refined siren sample, with a muted vocal harmony in the background. On, "Fear of a Black Planet", he addresses the baseless fear of interracial marriage. He displays an uncharacteristic sense of humor, as some of the vocals are manipulated to sound munchkin-like (yet still sound in character with the song). On, "B Side Wins Again", he berates mainstream radio for refusing to play anything unusual or controversial. Chuck's voice is treated with a reverberation effect, creating a fuzzy echo after the initial vocal sound.Though Chuck D is clearly the primary creative force behind Public Enemy, Flavor Flav has a number of strong moments. On, "911 is a Joke", he berates emergency response crews for incompentence. On, "Can't do Nuttin' For Ya Man", he tells a seemingly hopeless case to solve his own problems. Flavor Flav delivers his clever rhymes with his trademark humorous flamboyance. He and Chuck D collaborate on the final song, the best rap anthem ever recorded and Public Enemy's statement of purpose, "Fight the Power". "Fight the Power" is the perfect conclusion for an adventurous record that, despite it's many musical directions, is always focused.Many have condemned Public Enemy for promoting bigotry. In some sense this is not without basis, as some lyrics on Fear of a Black Planet appear, at least superficially, to be prejudicial. On, "Welcome to the Terror Dome", Chuck responds to a Rabbi who critized the group with words like, "Told the Rab, get off the rag" and, "they got me like Jesus". Even though he later stated that he doesn't harbor hostility for all Jews, this isn't apparent while listening to the album. "Meet the G That Killed Me", contains blatantly homophobic lyrics such as, "Man to man, don't know if they can, from what I know, that parts don't fit". While you may not agree with these and other viewpoints (which I sometimes don't), they are irrelevant to Public Enemy's artistic achievement. The entire presentation is what makes their music artistically viable. After Black Planet, Public Enemy released Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black (1991). It's a strong effort with several outstanding tracks, but a bit uneven and not a progression from their previous work. In 1994, they released Muse Sick-N-Hour Message; a listless, redundant disappointment. Since then, the group has shown flashes of innovation, but is mostly just treading water (as evidence of this, Chuck D is now known more for his support of music on the internet rather any artistic contribution). With It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Fear of a Black Planet, Public Enemy took rap to an artistic and cultural level that had not been reached before and hasn't been reached since."
Rap, hip-hop, rock classic
R. Riis | NY | 07/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Back before there was East Coast and West Coast, Public Enemy were THE important artists in rap and this was their best CD. "Welcome to the Terrordome" is a classic in any genre, and "911 Is a Joke" is another gem. The whole CD holds together as one programmed piece of eloquent socio-politics and sonic art. One CD that every rock (let alone rap or hip-hop) fan should own."