Public Enemy is an American hip hop group formed by Chuck D and Flavor Flav on Long Island, New York, in 1985. The group came to attention for their political messages including subjects such as American racism and the American media. Their debut album, Yo! Bum Rush the Show, was released in 1987 to critical acclaim, and their second album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988), was the first hip hop album to top The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics' poll. Their next three albums, Fear of a Black Planet (1990), Apocalypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Black (1991) and Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age (1994), were also well received. The group has since released twelve more studio albums, including the soundtrack to the 1998 movie He Got Game and a collaborative album with Paris, Rebirth of a Nation (2006).
Public Enemy has gone through lineup changes over the years, with Chuck D and Flavor Flav the only constant members. Co-founder Professor Griff left in 1989 but rejoined in 1998, before parting ways again some years later. DJ Lord also joined Public Enemy in 1998 as the replacement of the group's original DJ Terminator X. In 2020, it was announced that Flavor Flav had been fired from the group. His firing was later revealed to be a publicity stunt that was called an April Fools' Day prank. Public Enemy, without Flavor Flav, would also tour and record music under the name of Public Enemy Radio which consists of the lineup of Chuck D, Jahi, DJ Lord and the S1Ws.
Public Enemy's first four albums during the late 1980s and early 1990s were all certified either gold or platinum and were, according to music critic Robert Hilburn in 1998, "the most acclaimed body of work ever by a hip hop act". Critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine called them "the most influential and radical band of their time". They were inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. They were honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at the 62nd Grammy Awards.
Last Updated: July 13, 2021