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Public Enemy

At this late date -- 15 years since its inception, or a century in hip-hop years -- Public Enemy's only competition is its own past. Chuck D knows this too, and it irks him like nothing else since the Jews took over the media and shut down ex-calypso singer Louis Farrakhan. Though he's been dogged out in recent years as a visionary in granny glasses, Chuck's writings on suggest that he's so far ahead of the curve, you can't see him 'round the corner; his love for the Internet, as distributor and divining rod, offers just one more reason for labels to hate him. He knows the shitstorm (more like a light sprinkle, since nobody really expects much anymore) forthcoming for including but eight new tracks on a disc of 21, but he's got a sharp point; better a handful of strong newcomers than a disc of flat filler, otherwise known as the last couple of PE releases. And the new tracks are good, if not immortally so, save the one ("What Good Is a Bomb") penned by an interloper and performed by a dope, of which PE's got plenty these days (paging Terminator X). Actually, one longs for the good ol' days not because of weak beats but because Chuck's relinquishing too much power to Web-head remixers (four of them, culled from hundreds of entries) and writers who think they're hip-hop's CNN but play more like the Fox News Network.

The disc, save for two ancient public-service spots and a Big Daddy Kane phone call pulled from the archives, is all killer, more or less, an improvement over the similarly minded Greatest Misses: three very live oldies ("Miuzi Weighs a Ton" from 1999, "Fight the Power" and "Welcome to the Terrordome" from 1992), four dynamite remixes that blow up classic wax and recognize them for the frantic rage-against-the-machine alternarock tracks they were from the jump anyhow ("By the Time I Get to Arizona," "B Side Wins Again," "Shut Em Down," and "Public Enemy No. 1"), and new stuff that's strictly old-skool ("Son of a Bush" sounds a clarion call, and it's louder than a Bomb Squad), except for the handful ("Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need," the title track) that sound as if they were produced by David Holmes, homes. Flav gets his one track; so does Griff (damn it); but it's always gonna be Mistachuck's band, which still makes it the best hip-hop outfit in the world... this week, anyway.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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