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Masterpiece Reviews: “Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet”

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    Welcome to the latest edition of Masterpiece Reviews. Once again, we’ve thrown on our favorite velvet robe, turned up the fire, and are here to regale you with stories of the greatest and most classic albums of all time. It’s a fresh, new perspective on why these albums are filed under “M” for masterpiece.

    Though Public Enemy used 1988’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back to deliver a message of social uprising, those Afro-centric themes were taken to new, more visceral heights with 1990’s Fear of a Black Planet. Drawing inspiration from Frances Cress Welsing, the collective explored classism, institutionalized racism, and white supremacy, deeply controversial issues with just as much resonance today, across classic singles like “Fight the Power” and “911 Is a Joke”. Public Enemy’s revolution also expanded outside the political realm: with its use of tape loops, media sound bites, and a more varied pool of samples, the album helped usher in a new age of hip-hop production.

    It’s those cutting messages and compelling sonics that makes Black Planet not only a cultural masterpiece, but a profound document to the undercurrents of racial and social injustice that has existed throughout America’s long history.

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