It feels like ancient history now, but one month ago, there was a whole saga about the legendary rap group Public Enemy parting ways with longtime court jester and hypeman Flavor Flav. Public Enemy Radio — a side-project group that basically featured all of Public Enemy except for Flavor Flav — were announced as guests at a Bernie Sanders rally in Los Angeles. Flav objected, with his lawyer putting out a statement claiming that Flav had not endorsed any political candidates and PE frontman Chuck D shouldn’t be using the group’s logo and iconography without Flav’s involvement. Chuck then announced that Public Enemy were “moving forward without Flavor Flav” — essentially, that they were firing him. It was a whole thing. And apparently, it was all fake.
Today, Chuck D put out a lengthy statement claiming that the whole story was a “hoax” inspired by the 1938 Orson Welles War Of The Worlds broadcast. (Chuck says he “had watched” War Of The Worlds, but it was a radio drama.) He claims that he was tired of negative hip-hop stories getting all the press while positive stories are ignored. And he says that he and Flav planned this whole thing out: “Out of this storm came a plan between Flav and me to remind people that what’s important should have as much, if not more, value than just what’s popular. Thus came the HOAX, our ‘War Of The Worlds.’ Believe half of what you hear and NONE of what you see.”
All of this is leading up to the release of new music. Today, Enemy Radio — maybe they’re not allowed to call themselves “Public Enemy Radio” — released their debut album Loud Is Not Enough. The lead single is “Food As A Machine Gun,” and it’s credited to Enemy Radio Featuring Public Enemy. Flavor Flav is (barely) on it. It’s not good. If you’re curious, you can hear it below.
Here’s the full text of Chuck D’s statement:
A hoax that ain’t no joke
The HOAX was a hoax for a reason….
I was tired of bulsht.
Tired of Hip Hop always getting a bad look as its only narrative while the good news never made the news.
And SOC MED (aka social media transformation of ‘The Masses into Them Asses’ with sucking gadgets and by inhaling digital gasses) had me SMDH coming into 2020.
Thus came the HOAX. A wake-up call.
I had watched Orson Welles’ ‘War Of The Worlds’ from 1938 when he pulled the wool over the public’s eyes as they put 100% belief in the technology of radio. Most people followed like a Pavlovic dog just like they do now.
Flav doesn’t do benefits and stays away from political events – we been cool and always agreed about that. Enemy Radio was built for that reason, to be a DJ+MC auxiliary unit of Public Enemy, a no-slack homage tossback to DJ+MC roots. It is DJ Lord, myself and Jahi with the S1Ws.
Hearing the confused mush of political talk while under the bowels of Trumpotus made me use a presidential stage as my platform. Out of this storm came a plan between Flav and me to remind people that what’s important should have as much, if not more, value than just what’s popular. Thus came the HOAX, our ‘War Of The Worlds.’ Believe half of what you hear and NONE of what you see.
So it’s April 1, 2020 and as we hoard food and empty store shelves, Chuck D and Flavor Flav hijack it as April ‘FlavChuck’ Day to end the HOAX with Enemy Radio’s new song, ‘FOOD AS A MACHINE GUN.’ ‘Don’t Believe The Hype’ 2020 style. That’s right, this is Enemy Radio featuring Public Enemy, with more around the corner: Enemy Radio’s debut album, ‘LOUD IS NOT ENOUGH,’ is here. ‘FOOD AS A MACHINE GUN’ is the first taste, an attack on the food industrial machine that opens minds to the direct need, dependency and necessity – yet killer – of our current lives, taking inspiration from Kristin Lawless and her book, ‘Formerly Known As Food.’
Does it take doing crazy sht or catastrophe to wake people up? Obviously so, even when paying attention is the cheapest price to pay. So if you got that in your wallet, Enemy Radio is serving up ‘FOOD AS A MACHINE GUN.’
And if you really need to hear it, here’s the Loud Is Not Enough album stream:
So Chuck D pulled his April Fool’s Day trick a month early. It seems unlikely that this statement is the whole story, and Flav hasn’t yet put out any kind of public statement about this whole thing being a hoax. But also: Who the fuck cares? The best-case scenario is that Chuck D used an idealistic left-wing presidential campaign to promote an album that nobody cares about. If Public Enemy had released any good music in the past 20 years, then maybe he wouldn’t need to pull all these tricks.
UPDATE: Flavor Flav says it is not in fact a hoax:
I am not a part of your hoax .@mrchuckd,,,there are more serious things in the world right now than April Fool's jokes and dropping records,,,the world needs better than this,,,you say we are leaders so act like one,,,donate to those in need here: https://t.co/7hioasSwuV
— FLAVOR FLAV (@FlavorFlav) April 1, 2020