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Fear Of A Black Planet

4.7 out of 5 stars 159 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 26, 1994
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Public Enemy - Fear Of A Black Planet - Cd

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PE's third album is dense, heavy, and urgent as a bullet. Fear of a Black Planet single-handedly added half a dozen phrases to the language, and not just from Chuck D.'s troop-rallying bellow--Flavor Flav's "911 Is a Joke" is as catchy an indictment of urban policy as anyone has ever come up with. The Bomb Squad's music is complicated, challenging, terse, and totally funky, and Chuck matches it with one impassioned pronouncement after another: on Hollywood's racism, on miscegenation, on "real history / Not his story." The album ends with "Fight the Power," the group's ultimate statement of purpose, from its pounding, atonal sound collage to its furious politics. Put Black Planet on, and it's always a long, hot summer. --Douglas Wolk
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 26, 1994)
  • Parental Advisory ed. edition
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Def Jam
  • ASIN: B0000024IE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,809 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alan Koslowski on January 13, 2001
Format: Audio CD
With It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back (1988), Public Enemy single-handedly shattered the limits and expanded the possibilities for hip-hop as an artist and cultural force. To that point, It Takes a Nation was the most inventive, powerful rap record ever. It's blend of diverse samples, infectious beats, and intelligent lyrics (delivered with irrepresible cogence by the band's frontman and lead rapper Chuck D) was unlike anything that preceded it. As tempting as it is to praise Public Enemy for their fiercly intelligent vision, the compelling delivery is what makes it all worthwhile. While secondary rapper Flavor Flav doesn't have Chuck D's powerful baritone or undeniable intelligence, his raps humorously compliment the groups militant ideals. Public Enemy's deft production team, aptly titled The Bomb Squad (which includes Chuck D, DJ Terminator X, and numerous studio technicians), manages to extract samples from eccletic sources, including John Coltrane, Van Halen, and speeches by Martin Luther King jr., and Malcom X. If this album had a flaw, it was that the themes were only loosely held together. All discuss African-American oppression, occasionally attacking it so ambiguously that the album sometimes feels a little unfocused. This isn't really a problem because the music is what ultimately holds this brilliant work together.
In 1990, after two years of controversy and uncertainty, Public Enemy returned with Fear of a Black Planet; the most coherent, focused rap album to date. On Fear of a Black Planet, Public Enemy amazingly build on the near perfection of It Takes a Nation, elevating the music to an even higher artistic level.
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Format: Audio CD
Nah. But Fear of a Black Planet is Public Enemy's most focused, commercially successful, and controversial album. In fact - trim off some of the fat here and you've got one of the best rap records ever.

The album kicks off with my personal favourite PE track, Brothers Gonna Work It Out, a high-octane track with loud bells and screaming guitar licks; musically dense as a track off It Takes a Nation, yet, a little more polished. Another Bomb Squad production masterpiece and Chuck does his thing once again. This song loudly screams, "PE IS BACK". While the rest of the album doesn't quite live up to Brothers Gonna Work It Out, that's similar to saying Nas never lived up to Illmatic, because this is a top-notch album. Welcome to the Terrordome and the title-track, Fear of a Black Planet are both classic PE tracks, and War at 33 1/3 sounds about as urgent as a timebomb. Flava Flav gets ample chances to shine on a couple of tracks as well; mocking the police on 911 is a Joke, and just cold lampin' on Can't Do Nuttin' for Ya Man.

And what would this album be - (or what would PE be, for that matter) - without the finishing blow on this album, Fight the Power; perhaps the quintessential PE track. Highly, highly recommended, but It Takes a Nation of Millions is better.
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Format: Audio CD
Back before there was East Coast and West Coast, Public Enemy were THE important artists in rap and this was their best CD. "Welcome to the Terrordome" is a classic in any genre, and "911 Is a Joke" is another gem. The whole CD holds together as one programmed piece of eloquent socio-politics and sonic art. One CD that every rock (let alone rap or hip-hop) fan should own.
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
First things first: this is a GREAT album. PE is one of the greatest groups of all time in any genre.

The problem with the vinyl version is that the label crammed the whole album on to one disc. It needs to be released on two discs like Apocalypse '91 has been. The fidelity takes a major hit due to how tiny the grooves have to be to fit it all on one disc. I hope the attached photo illustrates my point.

Most of the time I prefer the vinyl edition. I hear more detail and find out new things about the album. In this case everything sounds lo-fi, and not in a gritty way. The best word I can use for the sound quality is dull. This vinyl sounds awfully dull.

Most records run about 40-45 minutes total. This one runs just under 65 minutes. Again, it should have been released on two discs. A masterpiece of an album like this deserves better.
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Format: Audio CD
Little preface here - I'm a 32 year old white guy. I've been a rap fan since before the coming of Dr. Dre (yes kids, there were days like that) and PE has always been my favorite group. I still spin this one all these years later, and when I do it brings into sharp relief all the things missing from hip-pop nowadays. Think about it, here you have an hour-long CD full of strong immersive music. It's not some crappy assemblage of tunes (each one done by a different producer and all featuring 1 to 5 guest stars), all in support of the latest booty-shakin' single destined for ring-tone purgatory. This is music filled with thought, rage, and a definite agenda. When's the last time you could say that about a rap CD?
Anybody remember when rap could SCARE PEOPLE? Way back, if you wore a PE shirt, it was a sign that you were plugged into something different, something no one else you knew was hip to. Somewhere along the way, rap artists stopped rapping about change and action, and instead concentrated on bragging about hoes, money, and the size of their ride. And with the automatic dismissal in the rap world of anything older (hence not "cool"), all the lessons taught by PE have been forgotten. And now Flavor Flav is a VH-1 ho, Chuck D is a lecturer, and you could never get the kids to listen to something this strong, not when you have 14 year old pretty white boys rapping on MTV. What am I trying to say here? Ultimately the conquest of rap over modern music completely weakened it as a form of music. Since the "gangsta" domination of the 90's, the history of the music has been whitewashed. In most people's memory, nothing happened before "The Chronic", Biggie, Tupac. And that's the saddest part. Remember people, just because we have a black president doesn't mean "Fight the Power" is any less relevant.
Security of the First World, y'all!
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