10 The List 23 March -— 5 April 19‘)”


The indomitable Public Enemy. arguably the most important rap group around. are hardly ever out ofthe papers. due to a combination of their own forceful brilliance and their

often misrepresented views.

which even when quoted

correctly raise hackles.

JilmCS Haliburton looks at the tribulations oftheir last twelve months. which have stemmed mainly from their

‘Minister of Information‘ Professor Griff.

‘If the Palestinians took up arms. went into Israel and kill all the Jews. it‘d be alright because they shouldn‘t be there' was Public Enemy's Professor Griff's opinion in an interview with Melody Aria/(er in 1988.

Public Enemy had just released It Takes A Nation ()fMi/lions To [Io/(I Us Back. the successor to their debut album Yo.’ Bum Rush The Show. and an album dealing eXplicitly with the injustice of American society in particular and any society in general. Unfortunately. it was comments like these. by the self-proclaimed Minister of Information. that attracted more attention than the records themselves.

Uncompromisingly political. the band see rap music as black America's most direct and uncensored form of expression an alternative to the established media. 'l’heir aim is not one of racial equality but of black power. by a process of re-cducation.

Following a year of problems. within the band as well as between them and white-dominatcd society. Public Enemy are set to release their third album l’ear Old Black Planet. 1989 January Public linemy. .\l(' l.er and Boogie Down Productions appear on the 'Sttip 'l‘he Violence‘ single in response to the increasing number of black-on-black attacks and murders (9-1 per cent of all black murders in America are committed by other blacks). All proceeds go to the National l'rban League to assist with the welfare and education programmes in America's inner Cities.


Public linemy are \otcd Group of the Year in the New York Mtisic Awards.

June .

The band release ‘l‘tght 'l'he Power‘ on Motown Records. 'lihc single is

taken from the soundtrack ofSpike Lee‘s film [)0 the Right 'I‘hing— a film concerned with the escalating violence between rival black gangs. July

The controversy begins. . . Following anti-semitic comments in an interview with the Washington Times. Chuck D sacks Professor Griff from Public Enemy. But. the following night. both appear together on the Bob Lowe radio show. fuelling rumours that they are reconciled and Professor Griff is to rejoin the band.

Later in the month. the band's record company. (‘BS tell record shops in America that Public Enemy are not anti-semitic and praise (‘huck I) for the ‘sacking’.


Professor Griff is officially reinstated with an ironic new title the reassuring Supreme (‘hiefof Community Relations. linfortunately. (‘huck 1) states that Griff will not be available for interviews.


Since Griff's remarks. the Jewish Defence League has stepped up their actions. culminating in a sniper. allegedly from the JI)I.. being spotted from the band‘s management offices in Sol lo. New York. The Special Weapons and ladies division of the police duly arrest and charge the suspect. llowever. Rush management continue to receive death threats. October

Public Enemy. EPMI) and Big Daddy Kane are prevented from appearing at Britain‘s biggest rave. Biology. when police stage a crackdown on the M3 sending party-goers back to London. November

('BS fear widespread broadcasting bans on the forthcoming single. ‘Welcome To The ’l"errordome. ' 'l'he single. dealing with the murder of Black Panther activist lluey

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Newton. contains the line ‘from the hand ofthe nigger that pulled the trigger'.



The single is released with the syllable ‘nig‘ bleeped out of ‘nigger‘. As the single is released. it is reported that Griff has signed a solo deal with Skywalker Records and has an album. Pawns In The (Jame ready for release.

Another line in the single— ‘Apology made to whoever pleases/Still they got me like Jesus‘ causes yet more offence. This time the Anti-Defamation League of B‘nai B'rith claim the line is ‘blatantly anti-semitic'. is a reference to the apology previously made by Public Enemy and implies that it was the Jews who were responsible for the death of('hrist.


DefJam's boss. Russell Simmons. bans Griff from the DefJam offices after he calls MC Serch of labelmates. and support act on the forthcoming European dates. 3rd Bass. ‘a fucking Jew bastard’. 3rd Bass had invoked the wrath of Griff by parodying Public [incmy‘s fake-lei-toting. military-garbed sidekicks. Security of the First World. in the video for their single ‘Gas Face' and including the line ‘like Professor Griff. we‘re outa here‘; on the ('at'rus .sl/hmn. 3rd Bass look set to withdraw from the tour unless Professor Griff leaves the band.

In Britain. local Jewish organisations approach the Birmingham Hummingbird in an

effort to stop the imminent Public Enemy gig. 'I'he promoters decide the best solution is to leave the decision to the Home Secretary. March Public Enemy (with or without Professor Griff and 3rd Bass) play the Glasgow Barrowland on Tuesday 27 and Wed 28.