Public Enemy Announce New Album Feat. Beastie Boys, Run-DMC, George Clinton, More
The great agit-rap institution Public Enemy got off to a shaky start in 2020 — a Bernie Sanders campaign appearance that led to a split with longtime hypeman Flavor Flav, followed by the announcement that the whole rift had been a hoax. Nobody was into that. But after months of apocalyptic politics, the idea of Public Enemy seems more necessary than ever. And today, PE have announced a new album, set to arrive later this month on the label that first introduced the group to the world.
Once upon a time, Public Enemy were synonymous with Def Jam Recordings. Rick Rubin signed PE to the newly formed label in its early years, and Public Enemy were one of the label’s most visible artists from 1987’s Yo! Bum Rush The Show EP through 1998’s He Got Game soundtrack. The Def Jam of 2020 has nothing to do with the Def Jam of 1987 or even 1998; could PE have ever foreseen being labelmates with Justin Bieber? But Public Enemy have returned to Def Jam, and the label will release their new album What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? later this month.
We’ve heard a couple of the tracks from the album already: The DJ Premier-produced anti-Trump track “State Of The Union (STFU)” and the new version of the classic “Fight The Power” with Nas, YG, Black Thought, Rapsody, and Jahi, which the group debuted during this year’s remote BET Awards. But the album will also feature a ton of other legends. The most intriguing song on the tracklist is “Public Enemy Number Won,” which will feature Run-DMC, as well as surviving Beastie Boys Mike D and Ad-Rock — three of the pillars of mid-’80s New York rap, together for the first time. The album will also feature contributions from George Clinton, Ice-T, Cypress Hill, EPMD’s PMD, and Stetsasonic’s Daddy-O, among others. What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? also has more or less the same cover art as the self-released 2017 album Nothing Is Quick In The Desert, which is weird, but whatever. Check out the tracklist below.
01 “When The Grid Goes Down” (Feat. George Clinton)
02 “Grid” (Feat. Cypress Hill & George Clinton)
03 “State Of The Union (STFU)” (Feat. DJ Premier)
04 “Merica Mirror” (Feat. Pop Diesel)
05 “Public Enemy Number Won” (Feat. Mike D, Ad-Rock, & Run-DMC)
07 “Yesterday Man” (Feat. Daddy-O)
08 “Crossroads Burning” (Interlude)” (Feat. James Bomb)
09 “Fight The Power (Remix 2020)” (Feat. Nas, Rapsody, Black Thought, Jahi, YG, & Questlove)
10 “Beat Them All”
11 “Smash The Crowd” (Feat. Ice-T & PMD)
12 “If You Can’t Join Em Beat Em”
13 “Go At It” (Feat. Jahi)
14 “Don’t Look At The Sky (Interlude)” (Feat. Mark Jenkins)
15 “Rest In Beats” (Feat. The Impossebulls)
16 “R.I.P. Blackat”
17 “Closing: I Am Black” (Feat. Ms. Ariel)
What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? is out 9/25 on Def Jam.