Public Enemy Continue to Fight the Powers That Be on 'What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down?'

BY Scott RoosPublished Sep 25, 2020

Public Enemy's 15th official studio release and first on Def Jam Recordings since 1998, What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down?, is a nostalgic trip down memory lane with tons of special guest appearances and old school flair. But, more than this, it's essentially Public Enemy trying to do what they do best — fight the power. With much of the record acting as a stunning indictment of Donald Trump's presidency, and with an election coming in November, those who oppose extreme right wing politics in the United States could see this as one of the most important recordings of 2020.

After a brief intro track, the record kicks off with "Grid" and Chuck D's trademark husky baritone voice alongside guest verses from George Clinton and Cypress Hill. "Public Enemy Number Won" is another highlight track that is propped up by the addition of Run-DMC as well as Ad-Rock and Mike D of Beastie Boys fame. The "what's old is new again" motif permeates this record, and an uptempo redux of the classic "Public Enemy No. 1" from 1987's Yo! Bum Rush the Show fits the bill to a tee. The track on this record that is destined to be an instant classic, however, is the punch drunk funk of "Toxic." It features Chuck D's much loved turns of phrase and instantly recognizable cadence throughout.

It was a rocky road to get here, but Public Enemy's return to Def Jam records has proven to be fruitful. This is an enjoyable record front to back, chock full of surprising guest appearances from legacy artists and rousing protest anthems akin to Fear of a Black Planet and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is all there. Lyrically strong, thought provoking and groovy as hell, What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down? shows to the world that Public Enemy still have plenty of gas left in the tank.
(Def Jam)

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