Diggin’ Through the Crates: Public Enemy “Raise the Roof”

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Artist: Public Enemy

Song: “Raise the Roof”

Album: Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987)

Lyric: “From the slammer, swing a hammer like the mighty Thor/ God of thunder, you’ll go under, then you’ll applaud/ And fathom the distance, the mad must reap/ Meet Namor, sea lord, Prince of the deep.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

Continuing with our theme of progressive Hip-Hop artists and groups that helped pave the way for an entire generation and culture, we bring to the stage yet another legendary group, Public Enemy. YEEAAAAHHHH BOY!  Through songs like “Fight the Power” and “Rebel Without a Pause,” this group didn’t shy away from topics labeled taboo at the time – they often rhymed about race relations, the lack of equality and standards of living, and the ever-decaying and neglect of inner city neighborhoods.

It might be hard for the current generation, far removed from the Civil Rights era babies, to grasp, but the emergence of hard-hitting Hip-Hop music was a focal point for the resurgence of pride and political awareness in the black community. Public Enemy was views as being an integral part of this movement. They would see the injustice that was prevalent in everyday life and pour it out in their songs, dropping beats and knowledge. Public Enemy wasn’t afraid to let it known to the general population what was happening in their community and that they had no concerns about polarizing political statements. Public Enemy, beyond the music and the group, was a concept, stating, “if you are black, white, Hispanic, blue, purple or whatever, and are sick of the conditions, injustice, and inequality, then you are a public enemy.” Public Enemy transcended all types of media, they have even been blessed with their own graphic novel. With Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, The S1W and DJ Lord here to fight the Man, the New World Order, corrupt governments, crooked cops, slave traders, drug dealers, child molesters and much more; it’s obvious to see the reach and impact they had on society.

Chuck D has once said, “You can show all emotions in comics,” when asked if being in a comic would lessen the importance of the groups message. He also stated, “Those early Saturday morning cartoons got me…CBS’ Superman, Batman, Justice League. Then Space Ghost, the ABC’s Spider-Man and Fantastic Four led me straight into it.” I’m positive they inspired the masses, and led people from the slammer, to feeling like they had the power of Thor. They’ve allowed people to take a look at their lives and see how far they have gone, see that yes, before they could have been drowning in the hardships and conditions, yet those made them who they are. And through perseverance and strength, they now longer drown, but conquer who they are, and where they came from like Namor. Needless to say, Public Enemy is much more than just a rap group. With their reach in music, television, and even comic books, it is impossible to deem them anything less than superheroes.

Written by Evan Lowe

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