Much ink’s been spilled in past months over the controversial political opinions of Public Enemy–particularly the regrettable anti-Semitic comments uttered by a group member who’s since departed–but it would be myopic to view this group as agitprop speechifiers alone. One of the two or three most musically audacious and distinctive rap acts in America, they have a sound that can only be described as futuristic–and while they may or may not have the answers, they certainly are raising questions, and that’s saying something. In their best work, the instantly recognizable voice of Chuck D emerges from amid a stormy swirl of abrasive noise, urging the disenfranchised listener to strive, strive, strive! It’s an essentially idealistic and hopeful stance that signals an implicit faith in the possibility of change. Which certainly sounds good when you consider all those others who just rap about gold chains and fly girls–not to mention the (mostly white) industrial dance bands that hide behind their stormy swirl of abrasive noise as they throw up their hands and groan anemically about the ugly hopelessness of life. Thursday, 7:30 PM, pavilion, University of Illinois at Chicago, Harrison and Racine; 413-5700.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jules Allen.