By the time 1990 rolled around PE was the highest profile hip-hop act on the scene (at least a hip-hop act that still had street cred). After the massively successful (critically and commercially) It Takes a Nation of Millions, the controversy already surrounding the group and its militant stance continued to grow while troubles amongst the group members began to blossom as well. Professor Griff would leave the group all together after he and the crew could no longer see things eye to eye, and beef between Chuck D and chief member of the Bombsquad, Hank Shocklee begin to simmer.
In spite of the cat fight between Chuck and Hank, the show would go on as both parties would put a side their differences and complete work on PE’s third release Fear of a Black Planet.
All of the controversy would pay off as Fear of a Black Planet would go on to move a million units in its first week receiving heaps of critical acclaim (it’s included on The Source top 100 albums of all time as well as number 300 on The Rolling Stone 500 greatest albums list) and the Library Of Congress would even go on to have it added to the National Recording Registry recognizing it for its cultural and historical importance. Yes it was that serious.
But how will it stand up today?
Contract On The World Love Jam – Intro which uses a bunch of vocal samples to address the state of PE in 1990, as well as the climate of the African-American struggle. I love the instrumental so this was very enjoyable.
Brothers Gonna Work It Out – This was released as a single. The Bombsquad provides a hard instrumental for Chuck D to stand on his soapbox and spit in his booming baritone (oh yeah, Flavor does add a line and a ad-lib or two for S&G) about the brothers taking care of our business. I’ve always loved how the Prince guitar sample’s chaotic sound meshes beautifully with the rest of the organised noise surrounding it. Nice.
911 Is A Joke – This was also released as a single off the album. Who can forget the hilarious video for this song as Flav criticizes the slow response time of Emergency personnel. The instrumental is decent and Flavor Flav is engaging and entertaining , what more could you ask for?
Incident at 66.6 FM – Interlude
Welcome To The Terrordome – Easily one of the greatest songs (top 5) ever created by PE, and my personal favorite. The Bombsquad instrumental sounds like they threw together a bunch of different sounds that begin to wage war against each other and somehow in the mist of the battle found peace. I guess it could best be defined as a beautiful mess, and I mean that as a compliment. Chuck completes this Magnum Opus with razor-sharp rhymes delivered in a booming vocal that sounds like God gave him just to record this song. This my friend is one of the reasons PE is revered as hip-hop royalty. Very nice.
Meet The G That Killed Me – Ummmm…I think the G is Aids? Your thoughts?
Pollywanacraka – Chuck addresses interracial dating as he narrates the reason a certain black woman and a certain black man choose to date outside their race, or more specifically what the title suggest, why they date caucasians. The instrumental does nothing for me and Chuck’s delivery is not only beyond awkward but borders on annoying, making this very skippable.
Anti-Nigger Machine – After a minute and a half of only an instrumental which includes repetitive ad-libs from Flav, a hard instrumental interrupts are normally scheduled program and Chuck drops two quick verses before it segues into the next song. If my memory serves me correct the video version for this song had an additional verses.
Burn Hollywood Burn – Chuck D invites guests Ice-Cube and Big Daddy Kane to the festivities as they all cover the under and misrepresentation of blacks in Hollywood. Each emcee rips this miniscule Bombsquad production to smithereens.
Power To The People – This instrumental reminds me too much of “Fight The Power”. This is pretty much an interlude that Chuck uses to drop random spoken word pieces encouraging the masses to, fight the power!
Who Stole The Soul? – This was cool. That’s all I got.
Fear Of A Black Planet – The title track flirts with the idea of interracial dating eventually causing the world to become black (I think). The chipmunked Chuck D vocal during the chorus was kind of weird to hear, especially in comparison with his usual bombastic delivery. The Bomb Squad has a knack for taking a handful of sounds that should hate each other and manages to blend them in perfect harmony, but when they don’t blend well you’re left with a bunch of noise that translates to a hot mess (i.e. this song).
Revolutionary Generation – PE defends all the soul sistas out there as Chuck addresses how black women have been mistreated in the past and how they should be treated in the present (Chuck even makes an interesting reference to his song “Sophisticated Bitch” from Yo Bum Rush the Show). The instrumental was forgettable, but props for the overall message. I love my momma.
Can’t Do Nuthin’ For Ya Man – Hands down my Favorite Flava Flav solo of all time. The beats a definite banger (I’ve always loved the bridge break down) and always will be. “You want six dollars for what?” Hi-larious.
Reggie Jax – Chuck spits one verse over a subdued reggae tinged Bombsquad instrumental that is quite enjoyable. This was decent enough…it ends before it ever has a chance to get annoying.
Leave This Off Your Fu*kin Charts – Terminator X takes center stage as he scratches the life out of this instrumental. I’ve never been a huge fan of these types of joints (as you already know if you read on a regular basis):that said, this wasn’t terrible, just not my cup of tea.
B Side Wins Again – I never cared for this song in the past but today it actually sounds pretty decent. Chuck D’s slighty distorted vocal over this rough Bomb Squad instrumental actually works. Fine wine, baby.
War At 33 1/3 – This actually sounds like the perfect companion piece to the previous song. Maybe this was the “A” side that the previous song was battling, which comes immediately after the “B” side, symbolizing a bowing down in submission to the victor. Maybe I’m reading to far into this. It would be a nice battle to watch, though.
Final Count Of The Collision Between Us And The Damned – Not sure how this instrumental correlates with the title. On second thought, I’m not even sure what the title means.
Fight The Power – This is one of the best hip-hop song’s ever created (according to VH1 this is THE greatest hip-hop song of all time), which was first released on the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s classic movie “Do The Right Thing”. If I recall correctly this song was way over exposed by the time Fear of a Black Planet dropped (it was released as a single off the “Do The Right Thing” soundtrack), but it was still nice of them to include it on a PE album for the many of us who didn’t buy the “Do The Right Thing” soundtrack. Nice way to end the proceedings.
Fear of a Black Planet comes out the gates like a pit bull terrier chasing down a dude with a steak embedded necklace dangling from his neck, before turning into a lullaby at the midway point, then regaining momentum as it comes to a closure. Overall Fear of a Black Planet is a solid effort and personally my favorite P.E. album. In retrospect it’s kind of sad listen when you consider this would be their pinnacle before they begin the slow trek back down from the mountain top.