Public Enemy album shows power of old
Public Enemy exploded onto the scene in the late 1980s and, for the band and the world that inspires their lyrics, much remains the same. Another Bush is in the White House; the nation is at war; and P.E. once again is on the outside of what is considered mainstream rap.
One thing remains central - the group's vocal and artistic leader, Chuck D. "New Whirl Odor," P.E.'s first full studio album in six years, carries much of the punch that makes Chuck D. one of the strongest rappers out there. His style is full frontal, holding nothing back. He wields his rich tenor voice like an Uzi. Chuck D. is back, and he's mad as hell.
The first cuts of the album closely stick to P.E.'s signature sound - Chuck's smart delivery, Flavor Flav's sharp backup, guitar hooks and booming rock-oriented beats. When the band ventures into new sounds in the second half of the disc, the timing slows, guest voices take over and much of the power is lost, unfortunately.
The collection's strongest moments are those built on P.E.'s core identity. It may not be fresh, but it's heavy in a way that makes the listener relieved to get a break from the less-substantive ideology that marks much of what is happening in hip-hop today.
When you listen to Chuck D., it still feels as though it matters.