Public Enemy aren’t hip and/or happening and they haven’t been since the zenith of their popularity back when Fear of a Black Planet had everyone wanting to Fight the Power. That hasn’t stopped PE from keeping things moving though, matter of fact since they split from Def Jam they’ve been on a creative roll and released several good-to-great albums along the way. Their new album, How do you sell Soul to a soulless people who sold their Soul?, continues that artistic momentum. Chuck couldn’t give a damn about the popularity contest that is mainstream music and he’ll keeping hitting you over the head with logic and political awareness, doesn’t matter if you like it or not. To quote Mistachuck himself I’m too old to be popular and at my age if I can’t teach, I shouldn’t even open my mouth and begin to speak. And with those words you know what to expect from the album, PE in full effect not minding if you consider them cool in the least, they’ve got more important things to worry about.
If this all sounds boring then you’ve probably never been big on the group to begin with, your loss though cause the album is a definite winner. Chuck’s voice is as commanding as ever and his enthusiasm and commitment really bring the message across. Add to that the retro-production, which is top notch, and it becomes pretty hard to not like this album. Wait a minute, retro-production? Isn’t that just another way to spell ‘dated’? Nope, PE has just come to the point where their history has become so undeniably significant to hip-hop that they can reference it without any shame and that’s exactly what Bomb Squad original Gary G-Wiz does behind the boards. The interludes and samples strongly recall Fear of a Black Planet while the use of live instrumentation takes you back to Muse-sick-N-hour-mess-age (their unheralded classic).
Still the album isn’t without it’s faults as their are a couple of lesser moments, usually with a Flavor Flav tag to them since Flav’s solo spots are for the most part uninspired throwbacks to his shining moments on the records of old. That and the record does bog down a little in the middle. Other than that you’d be hard pressed to find a rap group that’s been in the game for twenty years and counting and still sounds as vibrant as PE does.
So what if they’re considered the Bill Cosby’s of rap and they keep moving along unimpressed by all these new trends and fads that have the kids going nuts? They know that once puberty’s over their catalog will be digested all the same, even if they’re getting slept on today. And you know what, not caring if you’re cool…that’s really cool.
Conclusion: It’s not an album of the year candidate but it’s yet another solid release in a long and storied career which doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. The fact that you also get a bonus DVD with a live concert, several videos and short do*****entaries is just icing on the cake. The bottom line: 7.8/10