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Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black

Public Enemy

1991

Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black
Album Summary

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

Rating

3.21

Votes

11917

Genres

  • Hip Hop

Reviews

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Wed May 25 2022
5

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).

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Fri Jan 01 2021
3

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.

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Thu Oct 07 2021
1

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.

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Sun Feb 07 2021
4

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

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Mon Mar 27 2023
2

Very noisy and thought this was heading straight to a 1 star… but it grew on me. 2 ⭐️

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Tue Nov 15 2022
5

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.

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Sun Jan 09 2022
4

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.

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Fri Jul 21 2023
3

Old school hip hop, yet another album to the list of "Listened once, was okay, never again". It's actually a pretty long list now. And that's all I have to say about this album, let's just move quietly to another position.

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Fri Feb 26 2021
4

Not as good as the first two albums but still a corker

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Tue Mar 23 2021
4

Like an underground train rattling the grate beneath your feet and blowing hot summer city heat up into your face

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Thu Jun 01 2023
4

Rap music was pretty much forbidden in my house growing up, so my first exposure to Public Enemy was hearing "Bring Tha Noize" with Anthrax while playing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, and I thought it was a great song. A few years ago, I wanted to seek out the best rap music of the nineties, so I listened to Fear Of A Black Planet, and I absolutely loved it. I enjoyed this album too, but not as much as Fear Of A Black Planet. Chuck D is probably my favorite rapper. His voice just has a certain authority and rich tone to it that sets it apart from his contemporaries. I love Public Enemy's political messages too; "Nighttrain," "By The Time I Get To Arizona," and "1 Million Bottlebags" containing my favorite lyrics on this album. Musically, I was probably only a fan of half the tracks on this album. Some of the beats and sampling here just weren't my style, especially on "Loss At Birth" and "Rebirth." However, "Bring Tha Noize" with Anthrax more than makes up for those two tracks. Anthrax's instrumentation takes a great song and makes it even more powerful; I love that the scratching and other original elements are still present though. Overall, this is a great album, and the rapping and lyrics are the stars of the show here. Favorite lyric: "'Cause now the KKK wears three-piece suits." I wonder if they knew how relevant that line would be almost three decades later.

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Wed Jun 07 2023
4

Public Enemy Number 1! Public Enemy Number 1! Kna what I'm sayin? Yeah Chuck! I like how aggressive their rapping style is on a lot of songs, and I like a bunch of their beats. A lot of other tracks are really upbeat and quite funky. Overall the album is solid, with no real dips in quality. Standout tracks: Nighttain, By the Time I Get To Arizona, Move! And of course... Bring Tha Noize - Tony Hawk reprazent! 3.5 rounded up

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Thu Jun 08 2023
4

My favourite hip-hop album in this list so far. I don't know enough abut the genre at all, but I liked this - the energy and hardness of it got me much more than Gas did earlier in the week. And probably the overt political messages helped. I'd listen to this again.

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Sun Jun 11 2023
4

Politically charged early 90s hip hop. Chuck D and Flava Flav are excellent MCs.

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Tue Feb 23 2021
2

I'm not the biggest hip hop person, but if this came on in a gym or something, I wouldn't be mad

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Mon May 31 2021
2

Ну не. В целом, имидж чуваков импонирует, с Флейвор Флейвом даже не без детского удовольствия смотрел шоу "Вкус любви" на Муз-тв. Наверное и борются не за самые зашкварные вещи. Но камон, альбом в 2к21 представляет с музыкальной точки зрения, вероятно, лишь исторический интерес. В кайф сознательно слушать чёт ваще трудновато. Ну да, головой покачать можно на фоне, но "музыкальные обои" запилить вроде особо ума не надо. Слишком лаконичные биты, какие-то раздражающие звуки, репетитивность (оказывается, так правильнее писать, хотя я не уверен до сих пор). Ну флоу в принципе нормальный, харизматишный, но не настолько, шоб тащить. Умеренно хорошим треком могу назвать I Don't Wanna Be Called Yo Niga. У Can't Truss It бит интересный, но не столь, чтоб его на 5 минут растягивать. В Bring Tha Noize партии Anthrax свели до выработанных для битов стандартов, только репетитивные минималистичные удары, из-за чего всё равно неинтересно слушается. Хотя дебютник Beasty Boys показал, что можно и нормас запилить, если захотеть. Жаль Anthrax, группу уважаю.

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Mon May 31 2021
2

дженерик реп про превосходство чёрной расы, хули, ещё и строчку про "нига виз хис фингер он э триггер" у Наза спиздили. Да и вообще вся песня I dont wanna be called - кринжатура ебаная. В общем и целом - хуйня старая, 4/10

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Tue Jul 13 2021
2

Non dovendo valutare l'importanza storica ma puramente la musica questo disco fatica. Mi ha stupito il fatto che alla fine alcune produzioni siano la parte migliore mentre il rapping è veramente acerbo. Manca spesso la cognizione musicale non a caso tra i pezzi migliori c'è bring tha noize dove gli anthrax aiutano a dare una struttura alla loro energia. Al giorno d'oggi è un disco che si fatica molto a riascoltare.

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Fri Apr 07 2023
2

Sounds like something out of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

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Tue Apr 09 2024
2

Was somewhat familiar with Public Enemy’s game, and thought “Apocalypse 91” was just fine… Their style is their style, and it did get a bit repetitive after a while – but I’m okay with that… Going to say that “Shut Em Down” was the best track IMO, as I’d give that song 4-stars out of 7-stars in my little rating system… Nothing mind-blowingly awesome on this album – but nothing all that awful either, so going to slot it in at a solid 2.50 stars – but just can’t get it to a 3, so a 2 it is…

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Thu Mar 10 2022
1

Oh no.. how did this ever come about

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Tue Mar 02 2021
5

A great album with some great social commentary

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Thu Jan 21 2021
5

Blew my ass off. The first half is so strong and powerful.

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Tue Apr 27 2021
5

This was fucking dope, last song is excellent

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Thu Feb 18 2021
5

Amazing old school hip hop, the issues portrayed in this project are still relevant today. Production aged really well.

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Mon Jul 12 2021
5

Classic album by the pioneers. Virtually flawless.

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Mon Jul 12 2021
5

This was a really fun album and I enjoyed listening to it.

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Fri May 21 2021
5

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".

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Tue Aug 24 2021
5

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.

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Tue Aug 24 2021
5

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.

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Fri Sep 17 2021
5

Epic. Should be mandatory listening everywhere.

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Fri Oct 22 2021
5

Great songs great noise. The political weight and intellect brought by chuck D contrasted with Flavs craziness still sounds fresh now. Mad noises too

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Mon Nov 22 2021
5

Super punchy with an intense attitude. Loved this album, definitely needs a revisit.

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Fri Jan 21 2022
5

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.

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Tue Jan 25 2022
5

Holy shit, what an album. This is the template for half of my favorite albums ever

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Thu Feb 17 2022
5

Love P.E. wish I saw them more than 1. Listened like 20x .

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Mon Mar 28 2022
5

All the vibes you expect from this era. Rap has changed so much since this

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Sat Apr 23 2022
5

Probably the best Public Enemy album.

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Sat Apr 23 2022
5

Revolutionary in every meaning of the word!

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Mon May 23 2022
5

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.”

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Sun Jun 19 2022
5

Best hip hop album I've heard from this list so far. Great tracks with something to say.

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Sat Jun 25 2022
5

Last album of the imperial phase? Maybe. Still feeling every note and word of it? Yes.

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Mon Jul 25 2022
5

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.

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Wed Sep 21 2022
5

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

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Fri Sep 23 2022
5

The last truly great Public Enemy album. I love that Bomb Squad production, it still sounds like it's from some dystopian future.

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Mon Oct 10 2022
5

Enjoyed a lot. Man how times have changed between race relations and how we perceive them…let only. Some good bangers in here.

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Sat Nov 05 2022
5

Public Enemy really was amazing in the golden era of rap.

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Fri Nov 25 2022
5

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.

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Wed Nov 30 2022
5

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.

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Fri Dec 09 2022
5

Social commentary mixed with great hip-hop and rap. Delicious.

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Thu Dec 29 2022
5

Even better than I remembered

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Fri Dec 30 2022
5

CAAAAAAAAAAAALICKED WITH THIS JUAN.

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Fri Jan 06 2023
5

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).

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Sat Jan 28 2023
5

9/10 - Great album all around, not my favourite genre but enjoyed it nonetheless

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Mon Feb 20 2023
5

Me crié a base de eminem y hip hop noventoso, por eso m gusto tanto este álbum, en RS hablaron que este álbum intenta establecer una agenda sociopolitica de Y para la comunidad negra y yo estoy en total acuerdo, tmb hablaron de la creatividad de las letras y de los ritmos q son una PASADA, el significado de By The Time I Get To Arizona se ve bien reflejado y de este álbum mis favs son 9/14 así q imagínate como disfrute este album, 9/10.

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Thu Feb 23 2023
5

nice sound, one of the best hip hop albums ever

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Tue Apr 18 2023
5

Hell yeah. The fattest beats. Love

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Thu May 04 2023
5

3rd May 2023 Not actually listened yet - still no phone so getting ahead of the curve and will listen on the drive home from London. Stayed at Seb and Justo's, went to the theatre with Harry to see Gielgud and Burton play. Was ok. It's 90s rap so I'm going to pre-emptively give this one a big 5.

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Tue May 16 2023
5

A really good album, a worthy sequel to Fear Of A Black Planet in my opinion. I thought this was equally as good, and maybe even a bit better. For me the ending track being a thrash metal version of Bring Tha Noise, featuring Anthrax, no less, was very unexpected, but absolutely amazing. However I think By The Time I Get To Arizona was my overall favourite here - Extremely funky, and that gospel choir near the end brings it up to a whole other level. This was an aggressive and catchy Hardcore Hip-Hop record that just slaps. Favourite: By The Time I Get To Arizona

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Tue Jul 04 2023
5

Going from Loretta Lynn to Public Enemy is one of the many joys of this ap, ha ha. Unfortunately, today I'm a little short on time to describe how great *Apovalypse '91... The Enemy Strikes Back* is. So it's gonna be a quick one. The only little issue I have with this record is that it suffers a bit from how *perfect* its first side is, paradoxically.The second part of this album still harbors some excellent hip hop. But you just can't beat tracks like tight "Can't Truss It", or the deeply menacing yet groovier "By The Time I get To Arizona" (with its crunchy bassline and its soulful backgound vocals). There's also that lively "Nighttrain" or the more laidback "I Don't Want To be Called Yo Nigga", and all those tracks are as iconic as anything found in "It Takes A Nation Of Millions..." or "Fear Of A Black Planet". The alnpbum also goes out with a final bang, sonce there's the "Anthrax" version of "Bring The Noize" as a bonus at the end. That collaboration with the metal band sure is iconic as well... *Apocalypse '91...* is therefore a great bookend to P.E.'s "classic" period. Chuck D was the best rapper in the world during those early hip hop years: his punchlines *burn* everything on their way, and his political analysis is still as relevant in 2023 as it was back in the day. And Flavor Flav is a master at creating a sardonic atmosphere when he takes the center stage, as always. So the *relative* dip in quality during side 2 explains why my initial grade is 4.5/5, it's nothing that can prevent me from rounding it up to 5. Number of albums left to review or just listen to: a little more than 500, I've temporarily lost count here Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens:  approximately a half so far (including this one) Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: a quarter. Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more important): the last quarter

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Wed Aug 30 2023
5

Wow, this was honestly a HUGE improvement over It Takes a Nation in my opinion. Every track was great and filled with energy.

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Sun Sep 03 2023
5

Really great album! Political. Hard hitting. Even an Anthrax track I like! Really great!

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Sun Sep 03 2023
5

More hip-hop that I wasn’t curious enough to have sought out previously that I am so glad to know now.

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Sun Sep 03 2023
5

This one was great! Great messages, great music, great rapping, some thrash metal thrown in, and no tedious filler taking it over an hour. I liked the sound of this quite a bit more than "It Takes a Nation..." Yeah, boyeeeee!

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Wed Sep 06 2023
5

Listened Before? N An absolute scorcher here. Chuck D is the freaking man. This record is very, very good. I wish it was a bit more consistent but the first half absolutely rips, and there's several gems on the second half and it's rounded out with Bring Tha Noize! Wow! Added to Playlist? N Songs added to playlist: Shut Em Down, Bring Tha Noize

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Fri Sep 08 2023
5

Love Public Enemy. This album is so raw and heavy. More intense and immediate feeling than some of their stuff which I love.

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Fri Oct 27 2023
5

My true awakening to hip hop and rap was Public Enemy. Ok, sure I was into Beastie Boys first, but Public Enemy was truly eye opening with their message. I'll pop in PE fairly regularly to this day even though I really don't listen to the genre aside from them and one or two others.

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Sun Jan 14 2024
5

Chuck D is an amazing lyricist. Flava Flav sometimes distracts from his brilliance, but this album is as good as it gets.

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Fri Feb 09 2024
5

# Playlist track - By the time I get to Arizona # Notes - Right from the cover, this is an amazing album. - Even though this is not my favorite genre, by any means, there are interesting samples and instrumentals throughout. - Definitely worth checking out.

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Sun Feb 25 2024
5

This album was one that shaped my musical life. 5/5

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Sun Mar 03 2024
5

Chuck D used to do a morning radio show with Liz Winstead, the creator of The Daily Show, and Rachel Maddow doing the news. Chuck D was excellent, thoughtful and insightful. Just like his music. “Now the KKK wears three piece suits.” Exactly. I like this a lot more now than when it came out. How can something this essential be anything but a 5?

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Mon Mar 25 2024
5

Brilliant. Makes me want to watch re-runs of flava of love - the best reality show ever created. Why isn’t it back on tv? 4.5

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Thu Apr 11 2024
5

Awesome album to caulk a tub to.

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Wed May 08 2024
5

Brilliant production, explosive lyrics, dizzying use of samples, contemporary relevance, absolutely wonderful

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Thu May 16 2024
5

My God they were incredible. 30 years later the issues still remain…

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Sun May 19 2024
5

Public Em is fantastic here. I use to think Flava Flav was joke but dude has some pretty good lyrics and drops some good beats. This album has some great tracks and their message stays on point throughout.

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Thu May 30 2024
5

Aptly aggressive Calling out fat injustice While repping culture

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Mon Sep 07 2020
4

Good album with some substance involving race represented in music.

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