By 1998 Public Enemy was a bit of an afterthought. Their last album, 1994’s Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age left many critics and listeners feeling P.E. was out of touch old guys criticizing the ultra popular gangsta rap. Their label, Def Jam had been pushing them to the back shelf for years and He Got Game was their last Def Jam output. Def Jam’s loss as far as I’m concerned.
Resurrection – Chuck D kicks ass on this one. He is back to his late 80’s era and with wicked clock movements from Flavor Flav and some guest vocals by Master Killa from Wu-Tang this one starts the album off with a bang.
He Got Game – The background riff to the title song is lifted from one of the best songs from the 1960’s, For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield. Not only did they borrow the riff, they convinced an aging Stephen Stills to sing along on this one. The wonderful gospel voices of the Shabach Community Choir of Long Island help elevate this song to the heavens.
Unstoppable – This one starts off with guest KRS-One and is finished off by another wicked Chuck D performance. “Unstoppable. Public Enemy on a disc….You don’t wanna take the risk. Unstoppable…”
Shake Your Booty – A fun little ditty featuring Flavor Flav and female R&B group 4KaST. “Flavor Flav shake yo’ booty. Get rich, do your dance, it’s your duty..”
Is Your God A Dog – This tribute to the fallen rappers Tupac Sakur and Notorious B.I.G. slams the police and corporations that take advantage of young black men and pit them against each other to sell records.
House Of The Rising Son – The song starts off and continues with an interpolation of the keys from Won’t Get Fooled by The Who. It’s subtle though and fits in nicely. It’s overpowered by booming drums and snarling Chuck D and Professor Griff vocals.
Revelations 33 1/3 Revolutions – This one features guests LuQuantum Leap, Supernatural, Minnesota and some cool 60’s era Black Panther like vocals by Serenity. Any song that references a turntable speed is ok by me.
Game Face – Some James Bond theme background with some sweet Chuck D vocals and some Smoothe Da Hustler rapping added in for good measure.
Politics Of The Sneaker Pimps – The song starts off with a quote from Richard Williams. “Venus is the best thing to happen to the sport since the tennis shoe.” I was listening to this album in my car just before the most recent lockdown. I had just left the theatre after watching Will Smith portraying Richard Williams in the movie King Richard. Great movie. It was freaky since this song came on just as I started the car. “They’ll make me do things on the court to amaze ya. Heard they make ’em for a Buck 8 in Asia..”
What You Need Is Jesus – Not a spiritual song per se. Jesus the name of the main character in the movie so this song references him. However it does have a gospel feel with some sweet guitar licks, some scratch dj and Chuck D awesomeness.
Super Agent – Not a spy reference. This one is about the sports agents representing young black athletes. Comparing the agents to slave owners and the NBA Draft to auctions that sold slaves. Pretty heavy stuff but the song gets it’s message across with some awesome sounds.
Go Cat Go – David Bowie’s Tin Machine guitarist Reeves Gabrels adds some rock flavour to this one. The Emax, scratches and programming are cool but Flav and Chuck D are the stars here.
Sudden Death (Interlude) – Professor Griff does a good job on the vocals here, along with his cohort Kerwin Young. A decent song to end the song off. Maybe just a shade lower than the rest of the songs on the album though.
Now I just need to watch the movie. It has to be good if Denzel Washington is in it, Right?