The past four months have seen social upheaval not seen in the US since the 1960s. The confluence of a deadly pandemic with high profile murders by police of unarmed black people captured on film created the catalyst for a massive protest movement that swept across all 50 states, which is still going today. The music business has tried to follow suit with commitments to better treatment of the black artists who are the creative lifeblood of it. There has been an increased number of releases regarding racial equality, with some like Run The Jewels releasing powerful records on the topic, while others have been doing live streams and raising money for racial justice organizations. This is when we need a group known for fighting the power to step up and release an album and that is exactly what has happened. Public Enemy has returned to Def Jam after two decades and released their new album What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?
If there was ever a time when we needed a Public Enemy album, it is now. When there is a president trampling on public liberties, police rioting across America and democracy in peril, we need some of the original protest rappers to provide a soundtrack to the protests for the next few months.
The album finds them sounding as invigorated as they have sounded in quite some time – how could they not? The material they have to choose from in the world is limitless. They touch on internet and electronics addiction with “GRID,” racism and immigration, consumerism and much more.
The project is packed with massive features, including rappers new and old. “Pubic Enemy Number Won” takes us back to the 80’s with a grinding beat and one of the best ensembles of classic rappers with Mike D, Ad-Rock and Run DMC.
They are at their best attacking the system that holds down millions across the United States. The updated version of “Fight The Power” with Nas, Rapsody, Black Thought, YG, Jahi & Questlove somehow makes the song even better and should be the anthem for the next several weeks. The hip-hop trio have been needed for a long time and their contribution to the modern protest lexicon is very appreciated.
Pick up the album now and stream it below.