The new Public Enemy! Not really!
Back when The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy (most fun if pronounced "hiffo-prissy") loped onto the scene, Dr. Red Duke and I were initially hyped that we'd found us another Public Enemy. Stentorian baritone! Politically charged lyrics! Here we go!
After a few weeks of trying real hard to make it our new favorite thing we both came to the same conclusion: classic PE works best with the comic foil that Flavor Flav provides. DHoH just had that one big Michael Franti voice. No Ernie-laughing high-pitched clown to help break up the HEAVY.
Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy - "Language of Violence"
( available on iTunes, Ian Rogers's purported drug of a nation )
From that, I learned not to make the same mistake and to just relax: there can't be another PE. Still, there's this one Mr. Lif track on the new record that actually manages to come wonderfully close. "The Fries."
Fast Food Nation-esque big business dissatisfaction? It's got that going on. But it's also got funny punchlines in the mix. And if you were to mathematically average Chuck D and Flavor Flav's voices? You'd absolutely get Mr. Lif. Otherwise, I have a pretty difficult time trying to describe his distinctive voice at all.
Even El-P's production is a suitable facsimile of the best early Bomb Squad work: he's finally integrated enough funk with the noise to help things bounce. Check that glorious "Holy Ghost" breakdown. Mucked up just enough but still wholly danceable.
Mr. Lif - "The Fries"
Bonus track! Wadud Ahmad gets all "Pollywannacracka" Chuck D in the chorus of this new Roots cut:
The Roots - "False Media"
( We don't need it, do we? No, we do. Just not yet. )