Dangerous Compassions

public enemy

public enemy Laura-Marie

I love Public Enemy.  It took a long time–decades.

content warning: mention of violence

When I was young, I hated them.  I thought Public Enemy coarse, brutal, annoying, heavy handed–too much.  The cursing, the edginess–motivation from anger.  They seemed conceited, and I was like–why?

Part of what I hated about them was Flavor Flav.  I thought he was a fool.  The “oh yeah, boyeeee!” was obnoxious; I didn’t like the clownish aspect of his act.  Felt like cheap comic relief.  Chuck D and Terminator X were too serious, and Flavor Flav was a joke.


Now I think Public Enemy is doing something amazing, and I find them the best.  Some pinnacle of rap magic.

Has anyone done it better since Fight the Power?

I list Fight the Power in my new Protection zine as a song that helps me feel strong.

I really don’t know if others are doing it better–my knowledge of rap and hip hop are minimal.  But I want to learn.

I loved Digable Planets as a kid, and I heard a lot of Beastie Boys at a job I had in college.  These days I’m keen on Awkwafina and some Jungle Pussy, as well as Kimmortal and Ruby Ibara.  But they are just a glimpse.

Flavor Flav

Then I read the wikipedia article for Flavor Flav.  Wow, I was blown away.

I’m so sorry I ever thought he was a joke.  Now I think he’s brilliant and wildly creative.  Yes, a master of multiple instruments at a young age, with an arson problem.  Domestic violence, attempted murder, eight kids with four different women.

I get it now.  Like many of the men I’ve loved–fucked in the head, and a genius.  Poor impulse control and a vibrant, wild mind.

I understand now–the designated comic relief can be the energy and power of a group.  There’s no shame to silliness, and being funny is often the best way to transmit truth.  It’s definitely valid.


I’m sorry I doubted you, Flavor Flav.  Not that I want to worship you now, be close to you, or think your violence and addictions are ok.

Just I’m sorry I was ridiculous, to think you were without worth.  Life is way more complicated than that.  I’m surprised you’re still alive.  Glad you have a chance to do good in the world, and glad I have a chance to do good too.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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