"When people ask me, 'Are you back in the studio?' " Chuck D said in his
signature no-nonsense tone, "I'm like, what the f---? I'm always
cranking out music."
Of course, what is usually meant by the question is, "Are you back in the
studio recording a new Public Enemy album?" And now the answer is yes.
Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Terminator X and Professor Griff have reunited for
Revolverlution (July 23), the title of which comes from the song
"Crash" on 1999's There's a Poison Goin' On ...: "Got me thinking of
a new thing/ Revolverlution/ Computer souls, controlled by confusion."
The album has eight new tracks, three live numbers and four remixes. More
importantly, Revolverlution, which also features DJ Lord, is being
billed as the first truly interactive record.
The group let fans remix four PE songs by posting a cappella versions
online. From nearly 500 submissions a panel of judges selected remixes of
"By the Time I Get to Arizona" by the Molemen of Long Island, New York;
"Public Enemy No. 1" by the Jeronimo Punks of Buenos Aires, Argentina; "Shut
'Em Down" by DJ Functionist of Austria; and "B Side Wins Again" by
Scattershot of Madison, Wisconsin.
"The realm of production has flipped and changed. We have a whole different
way of looking at production," said Chuck D, a longtime advocate of
independent musicians and MP3 file-sharing. "[Other] people recruit
producers based on convenience 'Yo this kid up the block, he's hot.'
The whole process is lazy. It's a very profitable, lazy industry logjam.
People aren't doing new sh--. ... That way is so old and played out. Our
whole thing is challenging that."
Revolverlution is just the latest step in Public Enemy's 15-year
mission to change how music is listened to and distributed.
"We thought this 15th year piece should be yet another revolutionary piece,
not necessarily sonically or topically, but one to make a rap cat expand
their head to more possibilities for recording," Chuck said. "Since 1994
when I thought that PE had covered its first world-breaking goals, I made up
in my mind that each Public Enemy record afterwards would cover uncharted
In just another example of Public Enemy breaking new ground, "Gotta Give the
Peeps What They Need" is the first single off Revolverlution and was
produced by Johnny "Juice" Rosado. "What he's done has created a style damn
near Afro-Cuban-ish. What he's done single-handedly, he's triggered on
percussive aspects that have been lost. Sounds, sonically that haven't
really been dealt with."
The video was shot over a weekend in Boston, and Public Enemy got the whole
city in on it. "When you shoot a video in another city the whole city gets
energized. People want to come and see a classic show. It's fun being a rock
star. Sometimes there ain't nothing better," Chuck said with a laugh.
He may be laughing, but it's true. "The Public Enemy Web site has spawned a
whole existence like Trekkies," Chuck explained. They even went so far as to
hold a convention for their very own Captain Kirk. People from around the
world gathered at Chuck's house on Long Island.
That he's receptive to that type of quirkiness might surprise people who
perceive Chuck D as hard-nosed and humorless based on the seriousness of his
speaking engagements and television appearances.
"That's only how you think I am," Chuck said. "When I'm on camera I
have four seconds to get my point across. I'm not going on there with some
Track listing for Revolverlution, according to Public Enemy:
- "Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need"
- "Miuzi Weighs a Ton" (live)
- "Put It Up"
- "Can a Woman Make a Man Lose His Mind?"
- "Public Enemy Service Announcement #1"
- "Fight the Power" (live)
- "By the Time I Get to Arizona" (remix)
- Post-concert Arizona interview
- "Son of a Bush"
- "Get Your Sh-- Together"
- "Welcome to the Terrordome" (live)
- "B Side Wins Again" (remix)
- "54321 ... Boom"
- "Public Enemy Service Announcement #2"
- "Shut 'Em Down" (remix)
- "Now A' Daze"
- "Public Enemy No. 1" (remix)
- The making of "Burn Hollywood Burn" (w/ Big Daddy Kane)
- "Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need" (radio edit)