Apocalypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Black

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Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black
PublicEnemyApocalypse91.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 1, 1991
StudioThe Music Palace in Long Island, New York
GenreHip hop
Length51:54
LabelDef Jam, Columbia
ProducerGary G-Wiz The Bomb Squad (exec.), The Imperial Grand Ministers of Funk
Public Enemy chronology
Fear of a Black Planet
(1990)
Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black
(1991)
Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age
(1994)
Singles from Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black''
  1. "Bring the Noise"
    Released: June 4, 1991
  2. "Can't Truss It"
    Released: September 24, 1991
  3. "Shut 'Em Down"
    Released: January 3, 1992
  4. "Nighttrain"
    Released: March 3, 1992

Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black is the fourth studio album by American hip hop group Public Enemy, released on October 1, 1991, by Def Jam Recordings and Columbia Records. The album received critical acclaim, ranking at No. 2 in The Village Voice's 1991 Pazz & Jop critics' poll.

Recording and production[edit]

Apocalypse 91 was recorded at The Mix Palace in Long Island, New York and produced by The Bomb Squad and The Imperial Grand Ministers of Funk, which consisted of producers Stuart Robertz (fictional), Cerwin "C-Dawg" Depper (fictional), Gary "G-Wiz" Rinaldo, and The JBL.[1] The album title refers to the films Apocalypse Now and The Empire Strikes Back.

The group would take a new direction with their sound, partly out of necessity. According to Hank Shocklee, around this time, the disks for every track they had been working on for the past four to five years had been stolen. As a result, they had to rush to re-create their music and to put out their album in a timely manner. Shocklee admitted that it was impossible to completely recover what they had lost, saying "once you lose all your data, it's very difficult to get that data back...you may get some of it back, but you'll never get the complete set. You won't even know what the complete set is, because there's data in there you didn't really know you had." In retrospect, he believed the loss "stunted [Public Enemy's] growth. We never really recovered after that. We was on a roll - I was on a roll, and to lose that material set me back so hard." As a result, the sound was a little leaner than the dense production of their previous albums, and live musicians became a prominent element as well.[2]

The group recorded "1 Million Bottlebags" to protest the pervasiveness of malt liquor in the African-American community.[3] Public Enemy collaborated with the metal band Anthrax to record a thrash version of their earlier hit "Bring the Noise".[4]

Release and promotion[edit]

The album was released on October 1, 1991, by Def Jam Recordings and Columbia Records.[5] The album peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart and at No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[6] On November 26, 1991, Apocalypse 91 was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of one million copies in the United States.[7]

Apocalypse 91 produced four singles: "Can't Truss It", "Night Train", "Shut 'Em Down" and its B-side "By the Time I Get to Arizona". The latter featured a controversial music video where Public Enemy was depicted killing the 17th Governor of Arizona, Evan Mecham, who refused to recognize Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a national holiday.[8] "Can't Truss It" was Public Enemy's most successful single, peaking at No. 9 on the Hot Soul Singles chart and at No. 50 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[9] The song also peaked at No. 5 on the Dance chart, becoming their most successful release there.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars[5]
Chicago Tribune3/4 stars[11]
Entertainment WeeklyA+[12]
Los Angeles Times3.5/4 stars[13]
NME7/10[14]
Q4/5 stars[15]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[16]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4.5/5 stars[17]
The Source4/5[18]
The Village VoiceA[19]

Upon release, Apocalypse 91 earned critical acclaim. Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone praised its production and lyrics, stating that Apocalypse 91 "attempts nothing short of setting a sociopolitical agenda for the black community."[16] Similarly, Ronin Ro of The Source highlighted Chuck D's powerful and focused lyrics as well as the uncompromising and raw nature of the album.[18] NME credited the album for being "more soulful" and funkier than its predecessors, but admitted that it includes some filler.[14] In Playboy, prominent critic Robert Christgau highlighted the first half of the album, calling it "Public Enemy's most exciting sustained sequence ever", but criticized the second half for being less consistent.[20]

"Apocalypse '91 is great rather than classic because you can't make four classic albums in a row…" observed the hip-hop fanzine Louder Than A Bomb!. "PE are still the best band in America and they've once again made the best album of the year."[21]

Apocalypse 91 was ranked at No. 2 in The Village Voice's 1991 Pazz & Jop critics' poll, behind Nirvana's Nevermind,[22] while editors of Spin ranked it 7th in their list of 20 Best Albums of the Year.[23] Retrospectively, AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine cites the album as one of the great records of golden age hip hop.[5] The record was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[24]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Carlton Ridenhour, Stuart Robertz, Gary "G-Wiz" Rinaldo, and Cerwin "C-Dawg" Depper unless otherwise noted.

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Lost at Birth" 3:49
2."Rebirth"Ridenhour, Robertz, Rinaldo, The JBL, and Depper0:59
3."Nighttrain" 3:27
4."Can't Truss It" 5:21
5."I Don't Wanna Be Called Yo Niga"William Drayton Jr., Rinaldo, and Robertz4:23
6."How to Kill a Radio Consultant" 3:09
7."By the Time I Get to Arizona"Ridenhour, Robertz, Rinaldo, Depper, Mandrill, Neftali Santiago4:48
8."Move!" (featuring Sister Souljah) 4:59
9."1 Million Bottlebags" 4:06
10."More News at 11"Drayton Jr., Rinaldo, and Robertz2:39
11."Shut 'Em Down" 5:04
12."A Letter to the New York Post"Drayton Jr., Rinaldo, Robertz2:45
13."Get the Fuck Outta Dodge" (featuring True Mathematics)Kenny Houston, Ridenhour2:38
14."Bring tha Noize"Ridenhour, Eric Sadler, Keith Shocklee, Joseph Bellardini, Scott Ian, Frank Bello, Charlie Benante, Dan Spitz3:34
Total length:51:54

Personnel[edit]

Public Enemy
Additional personnel
  • Anthrax – performer (track 14)
  • Frank Abel – keyboards
  • Fred Wells – guitar
  • Lorenzo "Tony" Wyche – horns
  • Allen Givens – horns
  • Ricky Gordon – percussion
  • Tyrone Jefferson – horns
  • Al MacDowell – bass guitar
  • Steve Moss – percussion
  • Michael Angelo – mixing

Charts[edit]

Chart (1991) Peak position
US Billboard 200[6] 4
Top R&B Albums[6] 1
UK Albums Chart[25] 8

References[edit]

  1. ^ Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black (CD booklet). Public Enemy. New York: Def Jam, Columbia. 1991. CK #47374.
  2. ^ Batey, Angus (December 13, 2011). "20 Years On: Public Enemy's Apocalypse 91 The Enemy Strikes Black Revisited". The Quietus. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  3. ^ Coward, Kyle (April 21, 2015). "When Hip-Hop First Went Corporate". The Atlantic. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  4. ^ Pareles, Jon (1991-09-29). "RECORDINGS VIEW; Hip-Hop's Prophets of Rage Make Noise Again". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2016-01-09. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  5. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black – Public Enemy". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2016-01-29. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  6. ^ a b c "Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black – Public Enemy — Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2016-04-21. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  7. ^ "American album certifications – Public Enemy". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-07-30.
  8. ^ Serpick, Evan (2011-11-10). "Public Enemy Look Back at 20 Years of 'By the Time I Get to Arizona'". Spin. Archived from the original on 2016-04-05. Retrieved 2016-07-30.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 474.
  10. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974–2003. Record Research. p. 210.
  11. ^ Kot, Greg (1991-10-11). "Rockers Get Caught In The Crossroads". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  12. ^ White, Armond (1991-09-27). "Apocalypse '91: The Enemy Strikes Black". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 2016-01-09. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  13. ^ Hochman, Steve (1991-09-29). "Maturity Wins Out in Enemy's Latest Public Confrontation; Public Enemy: 'Apocalypse '91: The Enemy Strikes Back', Def Jam/Columbia". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2015-09-15. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  14. ^ a b "Public Enemy: Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black". NME: 47. 1995-07-15.
  15. ^ "Public Enemy: Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black". Q (108): 132. September 1995.
  16. ^ a b DeCurtis, Anthony (1991-10-03). "Apocalypse '91: The Enemy Strikes Black". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2007-01-14. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  17. ^ Relic, Peter (2004). "Public Enemy". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 661–662. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  18. ^ a b Ro, Ronin (December 1991). "Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black". The Source (27): 55.
  19. ^ Christgau, Robert (1991-11-05). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-07-25.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (September 1991). "Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black". Playboy. Archived from the original on 2015-03-11. Retrieved 2016-07-30.
  21. ^ Bainton, Martin (February 1992). "On 33". Louder Than A Bomb! #2. p. 5.
  22. ^ "The 1991 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. 1992-03-03. Archived from the original on 2016-01-02. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  23. ^ "20 Best Albums of the Year". Spin. 7 (9): 68. December 1991. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  24. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (2006-02-07). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.
  25. ^ "UK albums charts – Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 2015-04-05. Retrieved 2016-07-30.

External links[edit]