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Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet (1990) & The Pharcyde – Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde (1992)

December 30, 2020

[Albums 831 & 832 / 1001]

Fear of a Black Planet is an all-timer for me.

Period. Full stop.

I’ve argued the reason the album works so well is the uneven balance between Chuck D & Flavor Flav.

If it was all Chuck D, it would be too relentless.

If it was all Flav, it would be too ridiculous.

But with lots of Chuck D, supported by some Flav, la voilà.

And I thought to make a memorable hip hop album, that was the way it had to be.

Until this week at least…

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.

“Well I shut them down like P.E.”
– The Pharcyde, Track 5 from Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde

With Bizarre Ride II, The Pharcyde prove that the inverse ratio can also work quite well.

On tracks like Ya Mama, there’s levity to spare.

However, if the album consisted solely of punchlines, it would be too jokey & it would be sorely lacking in punch.

Fortunately, amid the lighthearted rhymes, they do address some serious issues. Systemic racism, for example, in songs like Officer (a song that, perhaps not so coincidentally, begins with a reworking of the lyrics to Public Enemy’s Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos).

So with more levity than seriousness, they may not “shut them down like P.E.” in quite the same way.

But their inverted levity/seriousness imbalance is still quite effective & they can deliver similes with the best of them!

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Verbalize the Positive

Happy penultimate day of 2020!

From → 1990s

23 Comments
  1. I would agree on the PE release. The two are such an odd mix, but it works. They found a nice balance.

    • And as a fellow accounting enthusiast, John – there’s no better feeling than when things Balance!

  2. Love those yin and yang creative duos!

    Paul McCartney’s lyrics for Getting Better:
    I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (better)
    A little better all the time

    Would be tame without Lennon grounding the song with:
    (it can’t get no worse)

    • good call on Lennon/McCartney!
      We Can Work it Out also springs to mind – McCartney’s major chords & optimism to start things off, followed by Lennon’s minor chord “Life is Very Short”

  3. Man I’m just picturing your daughters dancing away in the living room around the Xmas tree to this album lol

  4. Chuck D and Flav work really well together – not many bands have a hype man but maybe more should. I showed my daughter Fight The Power recently.

    • We haven’t gotten to that stage of the musical education yet here – I’m sure we’ll get there soon!

      • I got this book out from the library called Music Is My Life and I’ve been reading it with my daughter and listening to songs. Doesn’t have Public Enemy, and it’s very heavy on socially conscious recent R&B (which I generally really like).

      • Sounds promising!

  5. jprobichaud permalink

    Happy penultimate day right back at ya! I did love me some PE back in the day and this was my fave for sure.

    • Cheers, JP – my only regret is not wishing everyone a happy antepenultimate day of 2020 on December 29th!

  6. Fear Of… And It Takes… are stone cold essential classics. Pharcyde I know by name but not by experience. I’m on it.

  7. Both stone cold classics for me. I loved the lyrics for Officer – made me laugh out loud listening to it on my Walkman on a crowded bus the first time I heard it.

  8. Holen permalink

    Had no idea you wrote this up as I just listened to FOABP yesterday. Had “911 is a Joke” in my head, maybe Flav’s best track, and most serious?

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