Public Enemy, What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down? (Def Jam)
Corrupt Republicans have co-opted democracy and Public Enemy has an album out on Def Jam, you say? What year is this? Well, it’s definitely 2020, and it definitely sounds like it on this well-intended but ultimately thud-worthy 16-track excursion from the rap powerhouse that delivered two of the most enduring records in hip hop’s history. But the truth is, that was 30 years ago, and while no one will be mad at this album — because it does have its moments — anyone who was waiting for a crucial, critical and groundbreaking statement from “the Black CNN” would be better served by going back and listening to Fear of a Black Planet for the thousandth time and just accept that expectations, this year of all years, may lead to resentments. Public Enemy’s legacy remains and is well earned, but yet another belaboured foray into being an imitation of themselves is unnecessary and unlikely to win any new listeners. Aside from some nice guest appearances, the only real answer to the album title’s question is “dust off some old classics and listen to those.” 5.5/10 Trial Track: “Public Enemy Number Won” ft. Mike D, Ad-Rock and Run-DMC
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