Monday, December 13, 2010

PUBLIC ENEMY'S BOXED SET HITS HARD
Artist: Public Enemy
Release: Greatest Sites and Sounds: Bring the Noise, the Hits, Vids and Doc Box
Label: Slam Jamz/Total Box Music

Greatest Sites and Sounds (Bring the Noise, the Hits, Vids and Doc Box) is the first boxed set release from the storied hip-hop band Public Enemy. Subtitled Chapter 2: 1999 – 2009, the collection focuses almost exclusively on the group’s post-Def Jam era of recordings, released through Chuck D’s Slam Jamz label. The set’s content is split up into no less than six parts: three music CDs and three DVDs.

The CDs are loaded with 20 tracks each, featuring ten years worth of singles, album cuts, live performance excerpts and remixes from the six studio albums, remix compilations and solo recordings that the band has collectively logged since the tail end of the Clinton presidency. The core lineup of Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff and DJ Lord (who replaced Terminator X as the band’s turntable man) stand out on songs like “Do You Wanna Go Our Way???”, “Black is Back”, and “41: 19”. “Fight the Power” and “Can’t Truss It” will be familiar to casual fans but the remainder of material will be functionally new, since radio play has seemed to evade the group since the late 90s. The Bomb Squad continues on in spirit with production by longtime collaborators Gary G-Wiz, Johnny Juice, Griff and C-Doc the Warhammer, among others.

The DVDs include music videos from many of the songs represented here as well as live-in-concert footage and behind-the-scenes documentaries recorded by assorted crew members. The camaraderie of the group’s expanded lineup (including guitarist Khari Wynn, drummer Mike Faulkner, bassist Brian “Hardgroove” Hargrove) is showcased and sheds light on how this band has continued to be an in-demand concert draw years (decades?) after many of their peers and successors have slid into inactivity.

Firings, rehab, early retirement and reality shows of various members have not dulled the band’s musical edge or messages. Public Enemy has embraced international and Internet audiences, surviving the trends and for the progressive hip-hop fan stand far above the self-styled drug barons, emo-kids, and bling-kings of today’s rap scene. Greatest Sites and Sounds is a testament to their relevance and longevity.

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