5)Public Enemy – Rebel Without A Pause

Song: Rebel Without A Pause

Album: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back

Year: 1988

This was another of those moments where I hadn’t heard anything like it before and haven’t heard anything like it since. I don’t know what prompted the Bomb Squad to come with what sounds like a tea kettle (watch it be an obscure James Brown break or something) but it was the perfect backdrop for Chuck D’s commanding presence. Every line was worth paying attention to despite the song not having a message compared to a lot of Public Enemy’s general fare, this was like their version of a battle record that just so happened to name drop Assata Shakur long before it was fashionable to do so (“recorded and ordered, supporter of (Joanne) Chesimard”). I have to imagine this epitomized what black power must have sounded like at the time, Chuck D is to be commended for becoming the MC most commonly associated with talking about civil activism long before rappers went to shunning the “conscious” tag. As well, this song wouldn’t have been complete with Terminator X’s mean scratching.

For the sake of shits and giggles, here’s Beanie Sigel’s humorous cover featuring some of State Property, whereby they proceed to rap about things that would make Chuck D look down on them with great levels of scorn and contempt.

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