It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Ignore Public Enemy.

Bet you didn't know that PE is credited with releasing six albums since they did the soundtrack to Spike Lee's "He Got Game". Bet you didn't know that PE did Spike Lee's "He Got Game" soundtrack, but that's neither here nor there.

Most people don't know squat about what Public Enemy's up to because most people are too caught up on what G-Unit is up to, which is a shame, because I think Public Enemy's message has always been needed, perhaps now more that ever before (well, since the 60s anyway).

Public Enemy's impact never relied too much on the music they were making or even the rapping itself. Public Enemy rocked the world because they were advocating Black Empowerment at a time where the black people were actualy listening.

Let's flash back to the mid-to-late 80s. Hip Hop is a fledgling musical genre cast to the outskirts of popular consciousness, but it's starting to grow in notoriety thanks to Run DMC, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, and a rising star by the name of LL Cool J. Nevertheless, in the entertainment industry - not saying anything about real life - it's hard to be a black person and make a name for yourself. Remember, we're still years away from Denzel Washington and Spike Lee really breaking out. The ghettos are churning out an endless supply of criminals and drug dealers thanks to Ronald Reagan's introduction of crack cocaine to our country's most desperate poor, AIDS is found to be not just your friendly neighborhood homosexual's death-inducing disease of choice, and all those rights African Americans fought so hard for in the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s are slowly being stripped away one-by-one (and, in such a way that's actually within the law, which is most damning ... and which would be temporarily atoned for with Affirmative Action a few years from this point). An overall sense of revolt could be felt.

And then Long Island introduced the world to Public Enemy. And the world rejoiced.

Public Enemy said what minorities all over the world wanted said and they were beloved for it. They were the voice of those unjustly profiled, arrested, or just plain fucked with by the U.S. Government. AND, they were super popular, which really stuck it to all those half-assed white-bread politicians out there.

From 1987 through 1991, Public Enemy released four albums, the last three of which went multi-platinum, yet all of which were well-received by music critics. Something happened between 1991 and 1994 - when they finally got around to releasing a follow-up album - that suddenly made Public Enemy not so relevant. And it's hard to say that black people simply forgot the fight because Rodney King and all the riots happened in that period! If anything, the people had taken what PE had to say and they ran with it.

Nevertheless, when PE returned from whatever it was they were doing for those three years, they had one single - "Give It Up" - that played for a while on MTV and that was about it. They were done. Didn't stop them from releasing two more albums that decade, not to mention the four they've released since the turn of the century. Now, they're as irrelevant as they were in those early 80s years before they signed with Def Jam.

And I say their message is needed now more than ever because it is. We're at a point in our nation's history where we're more worried about Don Imus calling black college basketball players Nappy Headed Hoes and Michael Richards calling some black audience members Niggers than we are about the fact that a black kid is still more likely to be incarcerated than he is to receive a college degree. Who cares about two old white fucks? Why don't we concern ourselves with a national uplift of our poor black folks instead of these token condemnations of guys who're only noteworthy BECAUSE of their bigoted attitudes.

Yes, Public Enemy is most certainly necessary, but I'm afraid that we've reached a point where nobody's listening like they were in 1989. For the most part - at least in the eyes of the masses - black people are all set. Hip Hop is now one of the most popular musical genres even though it's about as stagnant as the last 40 years of country music. Black actors are winning oscars now; they're even running for president, and not in that Jesse Jackson kind of way. This guy has a real shot of winning! Hell, Oprah is one of the top three most powerful human beings alive, and I'm pretty sure if she wanted, she'd have us all calling her President Oprah without the formality of an election. And, as long as there isn't viral video of white people tasering cracked out thugs or being interrupted during their "comedy" routines by vocal black folk - or as long as said indiscreet white folk are publicly persecuted for their unpopular racial stances - Afro Americans across the nation will remain sated by their booty-grinding hip hop and their annual Tyler Perry film.

See, because here's the thing: all those proponents of social change in the late 80s and early 90s, those were the same adults who were children during the 60s. They grew up and wanted to do their parents proud by advancing the cause they'd fought so hard for. Kids today? Their parents grew up in the 70s and 80s, after that whole Civil Rights thing, when it was nothing but discos, bad music, and lots and lots of party drugs. To make their parents proud today, all they have to do is avoid prison and try to not wear unflattering clothing.

Social change just isn't in vogue anymore. Therefore, Public Enemy isn't in vogue anymore. Shit, En Vogue isn't in vogue anymore. Hopefully, if the new record is any good, that shit'll change. And with it, maybe America will become a little more Black-Friendly