Third Eye Opened.
Growing up in North Philadelphia, music was essential in the Glover household – during the week, my father would play everything from Stevie Wonder to Gil Scott Heron. Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, my mother saturated the walls with gospel music. I loved all of it, music got us through many tough days. Even with my father’s passing in 1992, songs that he would play over and over seemed to carry more significance–almost a message that we couldn’t understand prior.
Rap music and hip-hop has always been in my life, it made me laugh, it made me dance, it gave me my B-Boy stance, it made me a beatbox king in Junior High School, and it gave me a crew.
Upon hearing Public Enemy in 1987 – rap music gave me a purpose.
Public Enemy made me angry, by making me conscious of “the system” designed against us, most of all Public Enemy made me think. At 15 years old, in what I now call my “definitive years”, prayers and Chuck D kept me on the straight and narrow.
Yo! Bum Rush The Show was P.E.’s first album, unbeknownst to many at the time of release many wanted the album banned for its content. Yo!, was part street education(Sophisticated B**ch, Too Much, Posse, Megablast) part Black Panther Party meeting(You’re Gonna Get Yours, Rightstarter, Raise the Roof). With just enough political rebellion to jump start my untapped militant consciousness.
It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back is the Autobiography of Malcolm X on wax, no book(other than the Bible) has had a greater impact on my life. And the album was having the same effect. Countless times I’ve listened to the album and it turned into a research project. Rebel Without A Pause gave me insight into Joanne Chesimard (Assata Shakur) and later the Soledad Brothers. Allowing myself to be absorbed into the music led to an endless wave of knowledge that opened up a whole new world of consciousness that I found to be priceless. Don’t Believe the Hype allowed me to see how the media can control the masses, in Caught, Can We Get a Witness? Chuck defends the accusations of sampling music. My personal favorite is Black Steel In The Hour of Chaos, where Chuck D gives his insight why NO Black man or woman owes Amerikkka anything in the form of military service.
Show ‘Em Watcha Got, is a role call to our great leaders and innovators (more research). It Takes A Nation, was the elixir that I needed to consume in order to gain knowledge of self, remove the slave mentality and use my third eye.
It is easily the greatest rap album ever and one of the most important albums ever made.
If It Takes A Nation of Millions, gave me consciousness, Fear of a Black Planet gave me my social swagger. It gave me the confidence to walk into a room, knowing that equipped with a sense of knowledge I was a feared young man. The beauty of Fear of a Black Planet openly acknowledged that “every brotha ain’t a brotha” (i.e. Jason Whitlock), it talks about how “some of us would rather switch than fight”. It puts us all on guard letting us know that some of the devils we will encounter look just like us. At the end of the album Fight the Power reminds us that we’re fighting the same battle.
P.E. albums all carry significance, but it is these three that changed the way I see the world. Yo! Bum Rush The Show lured me away from the streets and showed me where I stood in this country’s social makeup. It Takes A Nation of Millions put me in the classroom and taught me to think outside the box and read in between the lines. Fear of a Black Planet was like a graduation from the first two albums. Giving me the courage, willpower and confidence to meet the freedom oppressor head on. It wasn’t always the music, at times it watching Chuck D in an interview speak with the baritone voice that knew no fear only redemption. One image that I’ll always remember is on the inside flap of It Takes a Nation of Millions – the entire P.E. crew was in a jail cell standing on top of the Amerikkkan flag (see opening photo). That image made me a believer.
The next time you read a Jason Whitlock column claming the ills of the world on hip-hip point him in my direction
It’s no mistake that 20 years later Public Enemy is still impacting lives, changing lives and most importantly – saving lives.
Brothas Are Definitely Gonna Work it Out!