Song of the Day #5,319: ‘Bring the Noise’ – Public Enemy

In 2013, Public Enemy made it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility, making them the second hip-hop act to do so (following Run DMC in 2009). Cue the perennial argument over whether rap acts belong in the Rock Hall.

I land in the ‘yes’ camp, recognizing that rock music over the last 35 years owes as much to rap as the rock music of the previous 35 years owed to country and blues. The Rock Hall features plenty of country and blues musicians, so why not rap artists?

I’m sure there are plenty of worthy rock acts still waiting for their spot in the Hall who maybe deserve admittance before a first-ballot rap group, but that’s a different issue.

At any rate, if you’re going to elect rappers to the Hall of Fame, Public Enemy is a no-brainer. Formed in 1985 by Chuck D and Flavor Flav, the band is one of the most influential and admired acts in hip-hop history. Their music was fiercely political but never preachy, a wake-up call with a vicious beat.

Public Enemy’s first four albums, released between 1987 and 1991, are argument enough for their inclusion in the Rock Hall. I wasn’t much of a rap fan at the time, but I remember spending a lot of time with 1988’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and 1990’s Fear of a Black Planet, in particular.

The final track of Planet was ‘Fight the Power,’ thrillingly used to open Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing the year before. Public Enemy made fighting the power vital, cool and mesmerizing, and they deserve to be recognized for it.

Too black, too strong
Too black, too strong

[Intro: Flava Flav]
Yo, Chuck, these honey drippers are still fronting on us
Show ’em that we can do this, ’cause we always knew this
Haha, yeah, boy!

[Verse 1: Chuck D]
Bass! How low can you go?
Death row? What a brother know
Once again, back is the incredible rhyme animal
The uncannable D, Public Enemy Number One
Five-O said, “Freeze!”—and I got numb
Can I tell ’em that I really never had a gun?
But it’s the wax that the Terminator X spun
Now they got me in a cell ’cause my records, they sell
‘Cause a brother like me said, “Well
Farrakhan’s a prophet, and I think you ought to listen to
What he can say to you, what you ought to do is follow for now”
Power of the people say
“Make a miracle, D, pump the lyrical”
Black is back, all in, we’re gonna win
Check it out (Yeah, y’all, come on) here we go again

[Hook]
Turn it up! Bring the noise!

[Bridge: Flava Flav]
Ayo, Chuck, they’re saying we’re too black, man
Yo, I don’t understand what they’re saying
But little do they know they can get a smack for that, man

[Verse 2]
Never badder than bad ’cause the brother is madder than mad
At the fact that’s corrupt like a senator
Soul on a roll, but you treat it like soap on a rope
‘Cause the beats and the lines are so dope
Listen for lessons I’m saying inside music that the critics are all blasting me for
They’ll never care for the brothers and sisters now, ’cause the country has us up for the war
We got to demonstrate, come on now
They’re gonna have to wait till we get it right
Radio stations, I question their blackness
They call themselves black, but we’ll see if they’ll play this

[Hook]
Turn it up! Bring the noise!

[Bridge: Flava Flav]
Ayo, Chuck, they illin’, we chillin’
Yo, P.E. in the house, top billin’
Yo, Chuck, show ’em what you can do, boy

[Verse 3]
Get from in front of me, the crowd runs to me
My DJ is warm, he’s X, I call him Norm, ya know
He can cut a record from side to side
So what, the ride, the glide should be much safer than a suicide
Soul control, beat is the father of your rock’n’roll
Music for whatcha, for whichin’, you call a band, man
Making a music, abuse it, but you can’t do it, ya know
You call ’em demos, (but we ride limos, too)
Whatcha gonna do? Rap is not afraid of you
Beat is for Sonny Bono, (Beat is for Yoko Ono)
Run-DMC first said a DJ could be a band
Stand on its own feet, get you out your seat
Beat is for Eric B. and LL as well, hell
Wax is for Anthrax, still it can rock bells
Ever forever, universal, it will sell
Time for me to exit, Terminator X-it

[Hook]
Turn it up! Bring the noise!

[Bridge: Flava Flav]
Yo, they should know by now that they can’t stop this bum rush
Word up, better keep tellin’ me to turn it down
But yo, Flavor Flav ain’t going out like that

[Chuck D]
Come on!
Come on!
Come on now!
Come on!

[Verse 4]
From coast to coast, so you stop being like a comatose
“Stand, my man? The beat’s the same with a boast toast”
Rock with some pizzazz, it will last. Why you ask?
Roll with the rock stars, still never get accepted as
We got to plead the Fifth, you can investigate
Don’t need to wait, get the record straight
Hey, posse in effect, got Flavor, Terminator
X to sign checks, play to get paid
We got to check it out down on the avenue
A magazine or two is dissing me and dissing you
Yeah, I’m telling you
[Outro: Flava Flav]
Hey yo, Griff, get thirty S1W, we got to handle this
We ain’t goin’ out like that
Yo, man, straight up on the Columbo tip
We can do this, like Brutus
‘Cause we always knew this
You know what I’m sayin’
There’s just one thing that puzzles me, my brother
What’s wrong with all these people around here, man?
Is they clocking? Is they rocking? Is they shocking?…

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #5,319: ‘Bring the Noise’ – Public Enemy

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I think the debate should be whether the Hall should change its name to something more inclusive than “Rock,” perhaps just “Music” Hall of Fame, but, let’s face it – Rock Hall is a great sounding name. So let the name stay and let the different genres in!

  2. Peg says:

    I agree!

  3. Amy says:

    Is there (yet) a rap music hall of fame? Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame certainly thrives despite many artists honored there also appearing in the “Rock Hall.” I lean towards changing the name or limiting the access to only “rock” artists, so that deserving perennial nominees have a fair shot at entry and there isn’t anger and resentment over who is and isn’t included.

    That said, Public Enemy warrants recognition in the music hall of fame.

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