Public-Enemy

Why There’ll Never Be Another PE: What Really Happened to “Real” Hip-Hop?


“Any artist can battle for glory/ but to kick a dope rhyme to wake up/ your people’s another story…” – “Rappers RN Dainja” -KRS One

Once upon a time, he was known as “Militant Mike,” leader of the Mau Mau, the most feared rap crew of the ’80s. Now, he’s simply known as Mr. Jackson, the grumpy old dude who bags groceries at T-Mart. Catch him on a good day, and he might take a break from sweepin’ the floor and drop some science about the good ol’ days of Hip-Hop, and how his music was gonna change the world. But if you ever ask him the obvious question – what happened to those good ol’ days? – all you’ll get is a cold stare followed by awkward silence….

The history books are full of stories about the Civil Rights/Black Power Eras, and how thousands of young people took to the streets to fight for their rights. However, as for the “Conscious Hip-Hop Era,” the story ain’t never been told.

Why?

Like the song says, “What’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.”

For many of us the “Conscious Hip-Hop Era” (1988-92) was our Civil Rights movement. But although it is often thrown in with the so-called “Golden Age of Hip-Hop”, as they say, “all that glitters ain’t gold.”

Let’s be clear. When I use the term “real Hip-Hop,” I’m not talking about a rapper saying some witty, juvenile punchlines to make you giggle. I’m talking about (to borrow from Eric B and Rakim) songs that will actually “move the crowd” to do something.

Like all forms of history, Hip-Hop is subject to revisionism. People would like to believe that, for a period in American history, there was a time when everybody was fightin’ the power and wearing Red, Black, and Green African medallions. This isn’t true of the Black Power Movement Era, and it’s definitely not a true reflection of the Conscious Hip-Hop Era.

Although it is true that many people in the ‘hood were suffering from the effects of ’80s “Reaganomics,” just like today, everybody wasn’t sufferin’, nor did everyone identify with “the struggle.” Some people were living good in the ‘80s and swore that “we had already overcome.”

Although some of us gravitated towards Spike Lee films and X Clan cassettes, there were others who were just as comfortable watching Molly Ringwald movies while listening to the non- political Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.

The Conscious Hip-Hop Era came about at the exact time when Black outrage was not only a necessary evil but also profitable. And groups like Public Enemy were able to slip through the small crack in the impenetrable fortress of Capitalism.

Capitalism is not without its flaws, and militant rap groups like Public Enemy were able to capitalize off of the major chink in its armor – greed. It has been said that Capitalism will sell you the rope to hang yourself.

But the major strength Capitalism is its ability to adapt and to absorb opposition. So, a radical movement for change was transformed into a cheap fad.

Freedom does not come without a price. It never has and never will. But for a brief moment, rap was the soundtrack of a revolution that the networks would not televise.

But for the artists who dared to speak truth to power, there was a price to be paid.

For those who argue that rap is “only music,” tell that to the soldiers who survived the rap wars.
Just read the books of rap artists from that period, like Professor Griff’ s Analytixz or Ice T’s autobiographical Ice, as they reveal some very interesting war stories that many people would like to forget.

Although Ice T has been quoted as saying that he is waiting for the next PE, I’m not sure that Ice T would even want to be “the next Ice T” if you study all of the drama that surrounded his song “Cop Killer”, which was eventually removed from store shelves. Like he wrote in his book, “You don’t know what heat is until you’ve had the President of the United States say your name in anger.”

See, everybody isn’t built for that kind of stuff. There is a reason that one of the most powerful voices ever in Hip-Hop, Sister Souljah, went from rappin’ about “360 Degrees of Power” to writing romance novels. Like she said in her book, No Disrespect, “the question is easy to ask. The answer is hard to find. But the search is essential.”

Ask anybody who has done more than send out an angry tweet in all caps, and he will tell you “these cats ain’t playin’”, and the oppressors ain’t gonna let the oppressed go without a fight.

In Russell Myrie’s book, Don’t Rhyme for the Sake of Riddlin’, he wrote that once during the Conscious Hip-Hop Era, “Someone was trying to get a number of rappers in one location so they could detonate explosives and do away with trouble-some Hip Hoppers…”

Most people like the “idea” of revolution, but facing the consequences of revolutionary actions are beyond their scope of comprehension.

Truth is, although many people make “murda music,” few are willing to make “martyr music.”

Today , besides the Jasiri Xs and Immortal Techniques, many of this new generation of rappers want consciousness without the confrontation.

Times have gotten so tough that even activists have been forced to pick up the mic to bring back “real Hip-Hop.” In fact, Chicago activist, Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., recently did a revolutionary remix of Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like”:

Just like it was during the Civil Rights era, it’s much easier to turn on (get high) and tune out. Why risk your life trying to change the world, when “a 40 and a blunt” will make the world go away for a few hours?

It’s one thing to get into a beef with another rapper, but it is another thing to go against Bill O’Reilly and get tagged “an unpatriotic pin head.” That kinda stuff doesn’t add up to increased CD sales anymore.

Despite all the revolutionary rhetoric, the real reason that there will never be another Public Enemy is because nobody wants to go through the hell that they went through.

Like ASAP Rocky would say, “everybody plays the tough guy till some stuff pops off…”

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip-Hop headz.

He can be reached at info@nowarningshotsfired.com, on his website, www.NoWarningShotsFired.com, or on Twitter (@truthminista).

  • messias3

    chuurch

  • Darren Myt Collins

    its not going to happen…hiphop is too far gone….we let to much bullshit infiltrate and become sucessful. Is what it is

  • Skinny jeans happened.

  • Dave Williams

    it will never come back due to the fact that some of the youngins dont know or want to hear about there past or history. none of them either read books or look at the news. so it will come back but the record companies destroy or silence these type of groups or rappers because there afriad we will leran and react !!!!

  • Bumpy Johnson

    its artists wanting to stay relevant and scared to lose money so they join up with young money and all the other trash out there. If jay z, Nas,Snoop Dogg and ice cube said. “young money is wack and rick ross is fake” automatically YMCMB or MMG would lose 1/4 its crowd. and a year later 1/2 more of the follow the crowd weaklings ,you know people are like sheep.

    • 2twelve

      people been saying lil b is wack last i check the kid was worth 5mill how when why smh its always gonna be a crowd for everyone

  • It was in my time. I would never buy bootleg material from this era. That’s how much respect I have for the artist of this time period. P.S. We also had Michael Jordan in his prime.

  • Pingback: Why There’ll Never Be Another PE: What Really Happened to “Real” Hip-Hop? : RapLiveWire()

  • Pingback: Why There’ll Never Be Another PE: What Really Happened to “Real” Hip-Hop? : KPR1 – Keeping It Positive in Hip Hop & R&B()

  • Speaking of PE, they have a new bad ass album called Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp. Shit is good as hell and still bangs like it is ’89 all over again.

  • Pingback: In The News 7/31/12 « Reading & Writing Is For Dumb People™()

  • Pingback: Today’s Links | South Radio()

  • Lord Saltsworth McGinty III

    A great read.

  • MC’s talk about “BUCK, BUCK BUCK!”, but when I say ” Let’s “BUCK” for the revolution!”, they STFU!”….KRS-One

  • blackmerican

    YEEEZZZ YEEEEEZZZZ MY NEEEGGAASSS,

    I FINALLY GOT MYSELF A DREAM CARRRR – A BLACKKKKK CA MA ROOOO. MY CREDIT SHEEEET WAS TURRIBLE FOR A WHOLE LOT OF YRS – COUDN’T GET ANYTHING PURCHASED OR GOT ON CREDIT- BUT ALL MY ISHHHHH IS SUPER CLEAN NOW AND ALL THOSE CRE DIT PROBLEMS ARE ELIMINATED LIKE THEY NEVER EVEN EXISTED!

    IF Y’ALL GOT PROBLEMS WITH YOUR CRE DIT REPORTS AND YOUR HISTORY IS SHAATTY, GET RID OF DAT MothaFUCKARR TODAY!!!!!! RING THESE PROFFESIONALS AT EIGHT SEVEN7 – 864- 1527. WHAT THEY DID FOR ME WAS SIMPLY AMAZING MAN. AND THEY ARE CHEAAPPP AS FAAACKKKKK TO BOOT.

    THEY GOT MY HOMEBOY SUPER CLEAN TOO AND HE WAS STRUGGLIN A WHOLE LOT WORSE THAN ME. HE IS GETTIN A CONDO THIS WEEEK AND IS REAL EXCTATIC WITH ALL HIS SHEET TAKEN CARE OFF FOR ONCE!!!!!!!

    CALL EM UP – THEY WILL HELP YOU OUT!

    8 77 – 864-1527 IS THE N UMBER TO CALL!!!!!!

    UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
    PPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP

  • immackulate

    we fell for the okey doke is REALLY what happened
    back when i was a youngster – you wasnt shyt if you wasnt rocking an african medallion, some red, black, green CROOS COLOURS and oh yeah some JORDANS lol. Niggahs was passing around FINAL CALL paper magazines thru middle school hallways like candy
    we had social commentary not only in music but in our way of fashion, the movies, books, etc… i remember when the MALCOLM X autobiography was reprinted in middleschool and the shyt was jumping off the shelves – i remember getting the goosebumps i felt when Flava Flav filled in the bar with his ad-lib “MF HIM AND JOHN WAYNE” and the video to boot was prolly one of the best rap video’s ever – and im not referring to budget either.
    by highschool even the so-called GANGSTERS made music to think to and react after
    from KOOL G RAP to ICE CUBE to IceT – Just Ice – SPICE 1 to early TUPAC all had social commentary but the difference was evident – 2 different generations were forced to split away from each other because of crack cocain – not only did our HERO’s, EDUCATION, SOCIAL AWARENESS, 2 PARENT FAMILIES fall victim but our MUSIC took a turn for the worse also – yes it became more mainstream, worldwide, and lucrative but we lost the “say something important” aspect along with the sense of pride in being black and reaching back to help the community for THUG MENTALITY

  • Allhiphop – when can we get a review on PE’s new cd? Hell you guys never showed their new video called I shall not be moved.

  • insaneangelic

    The people sold out they let Clear Channel and Radio One take over. Now instead of backing someone like Lupe he gets criticized for telling the true. While Rick Ross gets mad props from lying about being from the streets

  • hoeyuno

    I was gonna say , I think immortal technique is doing a great job bringing forward rhymes about issues that matter… Good article tho and.

  • Do we even need another group like Public Enemy? The world changes so fast, and rappers like PE and KRS One already stated what needs to be stated.

  • Paul Scott. I think you also know the one and only reason.
    Why nothing like Public Enemy will ever come back.
    They done did everything a revolutionary rap group
    possibly could do. They said everything more direct
    than any other rapper could have said it. In one word
    they did it the ‘perfect’ way.
    So tell me how to top that? Especially without being labelled
    a copy or a weak attempt to start something in the same field.
    Nobody can touch they status. And that is exactly where the
    Problem is. Its a lot easier to prove you are a drugged up
    hoodfella or prove your gangsta. There is still a bit of room
    Left. Not too much because of a relative oversaturation
    of those markets, so now the weirdos have quite a run.
    But in none of those categories it is possible to offer a perfect
    product. And if so the industry, would worry about further
    exploiting their investments.

  • Pingback: Snowgoons – “Get Off The Ground” « Celebnmusic247()