Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black is the fourth studio album by American hip hop group Public Enemy, released on September 24, 1991, by Def Jam Recordings and Columbia Records. The album received critical acclaim, ranking at No. 2 in The Village Voice's 1991 Pazz & Jop critics' poll.Wikipedia
After hearing the cover of Black Steel on the Tricky album (it was probably my favorite track), I was excited to listen to a Public Enemy record. The beats were high energy and very 1991, which is basically my ideal when it comes to rap. I liked the voices of the MC’s although one or two of them I couldn’t always understand, which was a shame, because the lyrics I did hear were great. I didn’t know that Public Enemy would have such political lyrics. It was interesting and sad how many of the lyrics felt like they could have been written in 2021. The work is never done. My personal enjoyment: 3.5/5 Did it belong on this list: 5/5
Apocalypse 91 is iconic but it's also really annoying. A lot of later music wouldn't exist without this album but, man... it did not age well. Three stars for its importance to music. Minus two stars because I just don't like it.
Can't do it. No way I'll get thru this whole album. I'm annoyed after the first 2:53 of the 1st song.
I bought all of the first four PE albums as they were released, and listened to them incessantly. This album is the bookend of their imperial period, when they were unarguably one of the most important bands in the world. Maybe not the masterpiece level of It Takes a Nation of Millions or Fear of a Black Planet, I have a massive love for this record. Reading about it now, they had lost all their data for what was supposed to be this album. This explains the slightly more straightforward production of this record, which is not quite as overwhelming a barrage of sound collage as the previous two records. But necessity is the mother of invention, and we have instead a more direct, though no less powerful, production. It is pretty abrasive, noisy and assertive, enhanced by the aggressive scratching of Terminator X. It draws heavily on funk and other black forms, and even their own previous records. It is a new thing, and yet stands on the shoulders of giants. It plants itself firmly in the history of black music. Chuck D has never sounded more authoritative, leavened by Flavor Flav, humorous but not a clown. Flav is angry on this record, and in a way, his number s(especially I Don't Wanna Be Called Yo N.) is the angriest song on the record (disguised with humour). The political message of this record is mature, thought out, and undeniable in its logic and emotional intensity. It is hard to think of a political band of the past 40 years that is both this eloquent and musically powerful. I was going to rate this 4 (for maybe not being on the level of Black Planet and Nation of Millions) but the more I write about it, the more I realise how much I love this powerful, focused, and forceful record. (Favourite song: By the Time I get to Arizona; the funky power of this song is really unique).
Not as good as the first two albums but still a corker
Like an underground train rattling the grate beneath your feet and blowing hot summer city heat up into your face
Again my deep lack of knowledge will likely handicap my understanding and enjoyment of this album. The album cover, title, and indeed the very name of the band immediately locates this music in a universe well outside my personal experience. Looking through the track listing I don't think I've ever heard any of these songs before. No, I take it back, I was a bit of an Anthrax fan back in the day, so I do know Bring Tha Noize and remember it fondly. The opening track, Lost At Birth, has a synth (presumably) repeating a descending riff, essentially acting as the baseline, but pitched to sound like a siren. Makes the song stressful to listen to, which I think is the point. Sets the atmosphere for the whole album. Building from there we get a variety of sounds, beats, styles, with I Don't Wanna Be Called Yo Niga very much reminding me of some of the funky albums I listened to earlier in this project. Setting aside the content of the songs for a moment, the music is interesting and layered and (to my uneducated ear) drawing on the best of past soul music and rap traditions to generate something fresh that remains quite listenable. The production is top notch. But you can't set aside the content, the quality of the music is just an aside; this is a band with something to say. I regret that I didn't listen to more hip-hop in my teenage and college years. Songs like By The time I Get To Arizona would have helped me get a more realistic grip on the world. Sadly the issues being discussed so poetically are still salient issues today. Clearly an important album, still relevant, and completely engaging. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Oh no.. how did this ever come about
A great album with some great social commentary
Blew my ass off. The first half is so strong and powerful.
This was fucking dope, last song is excellent
Amazing old school hip hop, the issues portrayed in this project are still relevant today. Production aged really well.
Classic album by the pioneers. Virtually flawless.
This was a really fun album and I enjoyed listening to it.
Onze. Não vai abaixo, não cai. Não vai abaixo, não cai. O que eu aqui construí não vai abaixo, não cai. Funk fado, funk you, não vou abaixo, não caio. Isto é tudo persistência, boy daqui já não saio. MotA: Shut 'Em Down "The future holds nothing else but confrontation".
Truly a masterpiece of Hip-Hop in the political vein. I think I always avoided Flavor, but Chuck D and Flavor Flav's balance is very strong, and the narrative style production augments an already strong duo. Plus, Anthrax mixing with Public Enemy feels just so right.
This is my first dive into Public Enemy, and holy shit it was good. The flows were amazing, the lyrics fun and poignant. But the real star for me is those beats, probably the best early hip hop type beats I’ve ever heard. Amazing.
Epic. Should be mandatory listening everywhere.
Great songs great noise. The political weight and intellect brought by chuck D contrasted with Flavs craziness still sounds fresh now. Mad noises too
Super punchy with an intense attitude. Loved this album, definitely needs a revisit.
Fantastic raw energy
Not the greatest PE album, but it's still Public Enemy. Shut 'Em Down is among the finest from the group, and the I love the way the beat and the lyrics flow from the beginning to the end of this album. You can dip in and out starting with any track, but it also benefits from being played right through from start to finish. The production is super heavy and I love this album a lot.
Holy shit, what an album. This is the template for half of my favorite albums ever
Love P.E. wish I saw them more than 1. Listened like 20x .
All the vibes you expect from this era. Rap has changed so much since this
Probably the best Public Enemy album.
Revolutionary in every meaning of the word!
Wish I could give more than five stars. Lyrics, Chuck D’s voice, mysic/sound… all iconic. Love this album. I remember growing up in Arizona when this album came out and us kids saying “yep, we banned MLK day and now Chuck D will never come here.”
Yep, still love it.
Best hip hop album I've heard from this list so far. Great tracks with something to say.
Last album of the imperial phase? Maybe. Still feeling every note and word of it? Yes.
Now we're talking! I've listened to a few songs here and there from Public Enemy and also the album "Fear of a Black Planet". This album is equally good. Public Enemy is top tier east coast hardcore hip hop. The production, the beats, the lyrics and the overall aggressiveness is hard to top. The album keeps the momentum all the way through and ends on a perfect high note with song Bring tha Noize featuring none other than the thrash metal band Anthrax.
Bangers on bangers
I love old school rap
Really enjoyed this album, hip hop it's not a genre that I listen, but the collaboration with Anthrax on the last song of the album really was well done. The overall tone of the album is a bit heavy which I like
The last truly great Public Enemy album. I love that Bomb Squad production, it still sounds like it's from some dystopian future.
Enjoyed a lot. Man how times have changed between race relations and how we perceive them…let only. Some good bangers in here.
return of the jledi
Awesome old-school rap
Public Enemy really was amazing in the golden era of rap.
Many many years ago a friend put a tape in his mom's a car, and played the song "She Watch Channel Zero," a death metal loop with this big voice hammering rhymes at us and this little voice yelling silly things over it. Then came "Night of the Living Baseheads" with this relentless sax loop. All us 12 yr olds were blown away, thought it was the most awesome music ever. Up to that point, rap in my world was skate rink stuff, kinda fun stuff but nothing too engaging. The Freaks Come at Night, Run DMC, and sneakers. I knew sneakers were really, really important. But Public Enemy was fast, angry, funky, different. It sure was odd that a bunch of white skater kids were listening to Public Enemy while none of our black friends at school even liked them. "Too loud," or sometimes, "why do *you* like them??" Most liked Kool Moe Dee, MC Hammer (to be fair, "Turn this Mutha Out" MC Hammer was pretty good). Move up 4 years, rap had transformed and was in the golden age, and Public Enemy was fixed in this weird space of theirs - loved by MTV, ignored by radio and either loved or disregarded by kids. And yet, they basically helped shaped so much rap of the time. Sample-heavy, hard beats that didn't shy away from repetition: embraced it, hammered you with it. They either influenced the sound or paved the way for so many of the hip hop sounds of the era. One the west coast, NWA and Ice T etc seemed to pick up the hard and fast beats, but on the east coast, whether it was all from Public Enemy or whatever the cocktail was of wild west sampling at that point: a lot of clean, looped, lyrically clever sounds. Gone were the rhyme-trading party-starting styles of the Beastie Boys and Run DMC. Arrived were the pounding verses of Rakim, Pete Rock, Big Daddy Kane, etc. And unmatched, uncopied, was Public Enemy. Poetic, political, noisy, angry, borderline reverse-racist. And what I'm sure has always seemed weird to a lot of black fans of Public Enemy, maybe even Public Enemy themselves, is their white following. This album doesn't quite attack the white naivete as much as Fear of a Black Planet, but it is no doubt a black experience album. But the undercurrent of the Public Enemy sound has always been so rock-oriented - noise, distortion, uptempo, pounding, and however ignorant of racial bigotry or oppression white kids might have been, teen angst is always real, and PE has got some angry angst. It should be telling that the tracks chosen for MTV on this album were Can't Truss It, Shut Em Down, By the Time I Get to Arizona. But interlaced with those slower, no less hard-hitting songs, are borderline punk equivalent: blazing energy-filled tracks like Nighttrain, How to Kill A Radio Consultant, Move... To me, this album is pure genius. Listening to it after so many years, the lyrics are so brilliant and layered, the rhyming so relentless and referential, and I don't think there is a voice more perfectly suited for rap ever than Chuck D's. The previously Public Enemy albums broke the ground, but this album was a group at their peak, striking an amazing, balance, producing an incredibly impressive, brutally unapologetic set of serious yet sonically infectious songs unlike anything anywhere.
This album kicks so much ass! aggressive, in your face, lyrics are to the point, and the overall sound is a punk afro boom beat.
Wow. A masterclass in quality sampling and beats that go hard. A lot of the boom bap of the time that I love (A tribe / Wu-tang etc) clearly draws on this a lot, not sure why I hadn't given them a listen before as this is just as good as their contemporaries. I'm looking forwards to hearing the rest of their discography now.
Social commentary mixed with great hip-hop and rap. Delicious.
Even better than I remembered
CAAAAAAAAAAAALICKED WITH THIS JUAN.
I bought all of the first four PE albums as they were released, and listened to them incessantly. This album is the bookend of their imperial period, when they were unarguably one of the most important bands in the world. Maybe not the masterpiece level of It Takes a Nation of Millions or Fear of a Black Planet, I have a massive love for this record. Reading about it now, they had lost all their programming data for what was supposed to be this album. This explains the more straightforward production of this record, which is not quite the overwhelming a barrage of sound collage as the previous two records. But necessity is the mother of invention, and we have instead a more direct, though no less powerful, production. It is pretty abrasive, noisy and assertive, enhanced by the aggressive scratching of Terminator X. It draws heavily on funk and other black forms, and even their own previous records. It is a new thing, and yet stands on the shoulders of giants. It plants itself firmly in the history of black music. Chuck D has never sounded more authoritative, leavened by Flavor Flav, humorous but not a clown. Flav is angry on this record, and in a way, his numbers (especially I Don't Wanna Be Called Yo N.) are the angriest songs on the record (disguised with a bitter humour). The political message of this record is mature, thought out, and undeniable in its logic and emotional intensity. It is hard to think of a political band of the past 40 years that is both this eloquent and musically powerful. I was going to rate this 4 (for maybe not being on the level of Black Planet and Nation of Millions) but the more I write about it, the more I realise how much I love this powerful, focused, and forceful record. (Favourite song: By the Time I get to Arizona; the funky power of this song is really unique, and shows the way for subsequent productions by Wu-Tang Clan, Dilla, MF Doom etc).
Good album with some substance involving race represented in music.
This album is fkn cool. If modern hip hop sounded like this I'd buy every new album coming out. 4/5.
Public Enemy is bad background music. Some of the sound design on this record was quite fresh. Flavor Flav is hilarious.
Listening to this album makes me wonder what the hell happened to rap music.
really good hip hop, maybe a tad overly aggressive about certain issues
High energy, classic PE
awesome 😎 flavvy flavvy
Classic 90s hip-hop. I don't normally listen to this genre, so I'm glad to get more exposure. Bring Tha Noise brought be back to THPS 2 for sure... Highlights: -Nighttrain -By The Time I Get to Arizona -Bring Tha Noise
Soberbio. Elegante. Justo y necesario.
Bon album mais pas non plus un coup de coeur
3.5. Militant. Aggressive. A little long. But I liked it.
flava flav never does anything I like a lot of the songs on here tho
Para afines al estilo. Buenas bases
Very good tracks (Arizona, Nighttrain, Bring Tha Noize)... not a masterpiece, but still very strong after all these years...
Solid all the way through, but I still liked fear of a black planet better. Great commentary all the way through
This album slaps, obviously.
Enjoyed this one. I can see the hype with why everyone respected PE and what they brought to the table in the early days of hip hop and rap.
I do think chuck D is one of the better rappers out there (in my very limitted knowledge of this genre). Despite Flavour Flav's being preeetty ridiculous , Chuck's Rhymes/raps are just bloody good. Funky beats on this album and content is super political and hard-hitting as with most of their material. By The Time I get to Arizona is an absolute tune.
This is good. Never listened before, go for different albums of theirs.
Loved it, second half tailed off a bit though sadly. As close to a 5 without being one.
Enjoyed this, I preferred the first half of the album but it's a strong album in this genre. 4*
Retreading this album reminds me why they had such a huge effect on the industry. Lot of iconic styles.
Public enemy never misses on production from what I’ve heard and this album shows that, the producing is probably my favorite part of this. The flows are amazing and always full of energy this makes the album consistently energetic and interesting. The lyrical ability of public enemy is also great throughout the whole album. This is one of those albums you can’t get bored of and that’s what public enemy is good at. Also, by the time I get to Arizona has to be atleast a top 3 public enemy song that one is fucking amazing. 8.8/10
I enjoyed this album even more than their earlier one that I was given through this. Classic 90s Rap
a classic for me
Public Enemy were one of the first music acts that I finally listened to the lyrics seriously (kind of hard to ignore them in this genre). Chuck D made all other rappers look subpar :P and virtually all of his tracks are fantastic. "By The Time I Get To Arizona" is probably my favourite rap song of all-time (I'm old enough to remember it being banned on MTV. :) ) so that's the starting point for me. Other highlights include "Move" "...Radio Consultant" and "Shut 'Em Down" - the samples/beats are perfect. Flavor Flav is a fine sideman for Chuck D but I've never much liked Flav's featured tracks, so I tend to skip most of his lead cuts on any PE album (and a few on here are indeed immediate skips...) - his goofy takes and abrasive voice get old quickly and don't really carry a song for me. Having said that, the strong points on this album are great and the themes are still so timely that even though it's nowhere near perfect (lyrics are mostly great, but some that have not aged well....) it's one I come back to often. "these days you can't see who's in cahoots cuz now the KKK is wearing three piece suits..."
Great classic hip hop album!
So relevant in 2021. Ageless truth.
This was a really good album.
The power behind these songs are incredible. The lyrics and political content are so blunt, and the production, while of its time, is certainly top notch. It may not compete with some of the best rap to this point in history, but there is no doubt that this album is significant for the genre.
Another strong and politically vocal album by Public Enemy and the suberb production team The Bomb Squad. Favorite track is "By the Time I Get to Arizona". I thought that Anthrax metal remix of "Bring the Noise" was an interesting addition. I did feel this was weaker than the previous two albums, with less funk and enthusiasm and interaction with the other rappers, but at least it did fix the drawn out news samples that Fear of a Black Planet had.
A groundbreaking album. Public Enemy dropping solid raps as per usual, funny segues between songs, and a collaboration with Anthrax for the final track. This is the first time I've actually listened to a full PE album - good all the way through.
This album is front to back energy
It's pretty good, I just wouldn't listen to it often. Beats are great but end up a little too similar in many songs. 8
7/10. Interesting to hear from a rap group that was against reclaiming the N-word. I really don't need the blaring noises in alternating ears in "One Million Bottlebags". "Bring Tha Noize" is an oddly fun note to end on considering how intense the social/political critique got towards the middle, but I'm not going to complain.
Better than the last public enemy album. More politically charged and less yeaaaaaa boiiiiiiiii’s
Still not my favorite rap but I heard plenty of references to rap classics, some social commentary, and there were way less yaa boiiiis in this album so in all, a big improvement
Pues Public Enemy de nuevo, así que no hay mucho que decir. Traen con qué: un álbum sólido, enérgico, con mucho qué decir y con un final muy divertido (esa colaboración con Anthrax jaja, que sí está buena, por cierto). Me gustaron especialmente "Nighttrain", "By The Time I Get To Arizona" y "Shut Em Down" 9/10.
An amazing hip-hop album, great production and flows + a lyrical focus on social issues that are /still/ relevant today makes for a fun but engaging listen
The opening minutes of Apocalypse 91 filled me with dread and not because of harsh and scary content. No, the beats on the opening cut, Lost at Birth are reductive, the lyrics are a nothing burger, and the only thing that distinguished the track at all is some reasonably creative scratching that also incorporates spoken samples, bouncing from speaking to speaker. Fortunately, things improve. On Night Train, yes the beat is as basic as they come, but the dense web of well chosen samples elevates the track and gives it some urgency and swing, and more importantly, since this is rap, the poetry isn't just the usual mysoginistic, homophobic, dumbass gangster fantasies--it actually has some content and relevance and shows a functioning, restless intelligence. And thus, the pattern is set for Apocalypse 91. The beats are basic, the expert and creative use of samples consistently elevates the material, the scratching is hip, and Chuck D's raps, while rhythmically remedial, are at least lyrically sharp, which is enough. Taken all together, Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black is actually invigorating. A lot of this is down to the samples, but someone had to choose them and arrange them, and they do so beautifully. Also, the record sounds good, which again, has a lot to do with the samples, but the vocals, scratching, samples, and beats are all well balanced, which also takes skill and taste. Honestly, for this style of rap, it doesn't get much better than this, but I'm reluctant to give this a 5 or even a 4.5 because this something like Apocalypse 91 isn't even in the same universe as something like Electric Ladyland in terms of quality, imagination, etc., but then again, I really should be evaluating this against the genre it's in, not by some imaginary universal standard.
Liked it quite a bit. Hope to hear more in the future.
Not my favorite Public Enemy album but still really good! I loved their sampling of their own songs from prior albums in some of the earlier tracks and I really enjoyed Nighttrain. Also it was a great surprise to have the Anthrax Bring the Noise at the end of the album which was used in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2.