Friday, April 10, 2015

fear of a black planet

Public Enemy fought the power and turned trouble into triumph with the brand new funk of sample heavy sound collage and serious social statement in this combustible controversial classic.   With the critical acclaim afforded 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back', the band was ready to take their sound to the next level; but the group also faced criticism for their extreme political views.  'Fear of a Black Planet' was produced by The Bomb Squad team of Chuck D, Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee, and Eric "Vietnam" Sadler at Studio Greene St. Recording in New York, New York;  The Music Palace in West Hempstead, New York; and Spectrum City Studios in Long Island, New York.  The album credits  Chuck D as arranger, director, producer, rapper, and with sequencing;   Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, Big Daddy Kane, and Ice Cube as rappers;    Alan "JJ/Scott" Plotkin on engineering, mixing, and vocals;  Eric "Vietnam" Sadler as arranger, director, programming, producer, and with sequencing;   Paul Shabazz on programming;   Hank Shocklee and Keith Shocklee as arranger, director, producer, and with sequencing;   and  Terminator X and Wizard K-Jee on scratching;      with    Branford Marsalis on saxophone;   and  Agent Attitude, Brother James I, Brother Mike, and James Bomb as performers.   The sessions included Steve Loeb and Kirk Yano as engineers;   Paul Eulin, Rod Hui, Mike Bona, Nick Sansano, Christopher Shaw, and Dan Wood on engineering and mixing;   with assistant engineers  Kamarra Alford, Chris Champion, James Staub, Dave Patillo, Jody Clay, Tom Conway, and Dave Harrington.    Howie Weinberg handled mastering and art direction was done by The Drawing Board.   

Chuck D considers:   "I first started out in the period of R&B, as in Reagan and Bush. I had no choice but to get somewhat political. I had to talk about my surroundings, so it kind of happened by default. It came out of an understanding of Curtis Mayfield and James Brown, who made it possible. I knew we would have impact as a group...We set out to make records that stood the test of time, being inspired by What’s Going On and the great Beatles albums — you know, Abbey Road, we grew up in that period. It first started out in the rock world, then the soul world had great albums. Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes...and albums had themes, and the themes — well, people would put their whole lives into the themes of albums. When we started recording in the ’80s, rap music had gone from a singles medium and was thrust immediately into being this album medium, only because the major record companies at that time mainly operated from a profitable-album standpoint.   We understood the magnitude of what an album was, so we set out to make something that not only epitomized the standard of an album, but would stand the test of time by being diverse with sounds and textures, and also being able to home in on the aspect of peaks and valleys. So we set out to do that. And here we are, later on. The album was a statement, because it actually took a college professor’s theory and turned it into a rap record, which was kind of over the top but reflected where we were at that time — and especially at that stage and our age, because we weren’t kids. I was a post-graduate college student. It wasn’t like I was 22 or 21; I was thirty years old ... I’ve always wanted rap music to be as respected as rock & roll. But I’ve also known it had to be mature, you know, in certain circles. And I always thought that people use rap music and hip-hop as this refrigerator, throwing [things] in there and never replenishing it. I’ve always thought different. My thing is like, you know, this is what you can do with this art form that people just thought was for kids. I’m like, ‘No, man, it could be better, but you’ve got to present it right and have an effort and really gotta love what you do.’ And that’s what we do... I don’t think [the public pressure on Public Enemy] had any bearing on the recording. I mean, the studio’s a sanctuary. Recording records and performances are their own particular joys. I think the implosion of personalities at that particular time was a bit of a harrowing experience, but that comes with the territory when you have a whole bunch of people going in one direction, or maybe sometimes lying to each other. I mean, it’s the story of any band or group, the worst and the best of them...The whole thing was to build an album as being one solid statement. I don’t think it was one of those things where we ventured into the area of predictability. We wanted to try and not to repeat ourselves. There are similar styles here and there, but I don’t think they’re so similar where you say it’s the same record. I mean, we’ve had issues – and they were good issues – with It Takes a Nation, which at times sounded like one fast jam session. Fear of a Black Planet was our world record that dealt with the peaks and valleys of emotion...Keith Shockley and Eric Sadler came up with something that was really, really funky and really right, and that was the one we decided to package and send into space. Fear of a Black Planet was a well thought out record, but not every second was thought out as far as like, ‘It’s gonna be light.’ We thought the funk was there, and if the intent came out light, it’s only because Flavor Flav was taking the forefront...His main thing is he’s one of the most accomplished artists and musicians, and he created his own role as hype man. He’s been often imitated, never duplicated. Bottom line. And also, I mean, major props go out to Professor Griff, who’s on the other side of that coin. He’s so deep and committed, it’s hard for America to digest. But the rest of the world digests Griff, ’cause the rest of the world has gotten really acute about politics and all those things, not being afraid to say what you have to say...Comparing albums is like comparing your children. But if It Takes a Nation of Millions was a fastball, Fear of a Black Planet was a hell of a fucking curve. I was very proud about that." 

'Fear of a Black Planet'  hit number twenty-four in Sweden; nineteen in Switzerland; seventeen in the Netherlands; fifteen in Canada; ten on the US pop album chart; four in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK; and number three on the US black album chart.  It has been certified platinum in the US, where it was nominated for a Grammy for  Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, and has been added it to the National Recording Registry by  the Library of Congress.

"Fight the Power"

"911 is a Joke"

"Brothers Gonna Work it Out"

"Burn Hollywood Burn"

"Welcome to the Terrordome"

Welcome To Terrordome by eXsistenZ1968

"Can't Do Nuttin' for Ya Man"

'Fear of a Black Planet' 
full album:

tracks written by Keith Shocklee, Eric Sadler, and Carl Ridenhour, unless otherwise noted.  

1  Contract on the World Love Jam 1:49
2  Brothers Gonna Work It Out 5:03
3  911 Is a Joke (William Drayton, Shocklee, Sadler) 3:17
4  Incident at 66.6 FM 1:37
5  Welcome to the Terrordome 5:25
6  Meet the G That Killed Me 0:44
7  Pollywanacracka 4:13
8  Anti-Nigger Machine 2:39
9  Burn Hollywood Burn (O'Shea Jackson, Antonio Hardy, Shocklee, Sadler, Ridenhour) 3:04
10 Power to the People 3:48
11 Who Stole the Soul? 3:52
12 Fear of a Black Planet 3:42
13 Revolutionary Generation 5:43
14 Can't Do Nuttin' for Ya Man 2:46
15 Reggie Jax 1:35
16 Leave This Off Your Fuckin Charts (Norman Rogers) 2:31
17 B. Side Wins Again 3:45
18 War at 33 1/3 2:07
19 Final Count of the Collision Between Us and the Damned 0:48
20 Fight the Power 4:42

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