A Dozen Pivotal Moments in the 30 Year Career of Public Enemy

Categories: Public Enemy

4. While riding high on their initial wave of success, PE sideman and "Minister of Information" Professor Griff was interviewed by the Washington Times in 1989 and dropped several verbal bombs, including his infamous statement that Jews are responsible for "the majority of wickedness that goes on around the globe." After a firestorm of criticism, Chuck D. kicked Griff out of the group. Still, the charges of anti-Semitism dogging PE didn't stop there. At the end of '89, PE issued their new single "Welcome to the Terrordome," which addressed the Griff controversy through the lines "Crucifixion ain't no fiction/So-called chosen frozen/Apology made to who ever pleases/Still they got me like Jesus." Even Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, speaking to The New York Times, was hesitant to back the sentiment: ''They're not great lines, and I'm not happy about it. But he was frustrated and that's what he wanted to say. I'm not defending everything he's saying, but chopping people's records up is not what I do. And in the end, Public Enemy has done a lot more good than harm.''

5. In 1991, PE boycotted the 33rd annual Grammy Awards in solidarity with Russell Simmons, who was angry that the award for Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group wasn't going to be presented during the telecast, saying that it amounted to "the same old broken-record snub of inner-city contributions to the music industry." PE lost out to Quincy Jones in the category that year; the previous year, 1990, Young M.C.'s "Bust a Move" bested "Fight the Power" for the award, and in 1992, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince's "Summertime" topped PE's Apocalypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Black in the same category.

6. Although Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. helped pioneer the fusion of rock and rap in 1986 with "Walk This Way," it was arguably much cooler, certainly more street, when Public Enemy and Anthrax teamed up in 1991 for a new version of PE's 1987 single "Bring the Noise." The only downside, of course, is that the collaboration probably helped pave the way for the hideous rap-metal movement that took hold the following decade.

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