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Fortunately, they still have issues

November 06, 2005|Soren Baker

Public Enemy

"New Whirl Odor" (SLAMjamz)

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LISTENING to the follow-up to 2002's remix-heavy "Revolverlution" is like taking a trip back in time, a time in the late 1980s when popular rap music was an explosive, balanced affair. For every rapper boasting about his rhyme skills and material spoils, there was a gangster rapper detailing ghetto life and a political artist advocating education and activism.

Public Enemy did each of these to varying degrees, but it was the group's charged political bent that made it one of the most popular and controversial rap outfits. The group remains as potent as ever on "New Whirl Odor," which features the type of jarring, disjointed and bombastic production that is the hallmark of its best work.

Lead rapper Chuck D still has one of the most commanding voices in rap, and he delivers another round of riotous railing against injustice. The haves, unconcerned with the well-being of the have-nots, are targeted on "Check What You're Listening To." Chuck urges self-accountability and corporate responsibility on the somber "Preachin' to the Quiet." Even lesser cuts arrive with the type of sonic and lyric force that made Public Enemy so potent on its debut nearly 20 years ago.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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