With Food As A Machine Gun, Public Enemy Radio Expose Social Differences At A Crucial Moment
In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Public Enemy was one of the most politically-charged hip hop bands, rightly criticizing the bad treatment of the black community from the history of slavery to bad emergency response, with themes of frustration, oppression, injustice, and social consciousness. With song-anthems such as ‘Rebel Without a Pause’, ‘Night of the Living Baseheads,’ ‘Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos,’ ‘Welcome to the Terrordome,’ ‘911 is a Joke,’ and of course ‘Fight the Power,’ there was no doubt about the real state of black America.
So why is Public Enemy Radio, which is now featuring Chuck D, DJ Lord, Jahi and the S1Ws after Flavor Flav got fired last month, releasing a song about food while the band has always been on a mission championing black empowerment?
The track ‘Food as a Machine Gun,’ inspired by Kristin Lawless’ book ‘Formerly Known As Food,’ is indeed the lead single of the band’s new album ‘Loud Is Not Enough,’ and the song could not land at a better moment. Yes, it’s old school hip hop over Jamaican-reggae beats and Chuck D’s commanding voice, but if it works as a time-traveling machine, the lyrics are a direct attack on the food industry and the bad habits of the typical American diet. From sugar (‘Sugar Sugar you don’t love me/Sugar Sugar you don’t need me/Now it be eating me/Got us fightin diabetes’) to salt ‘(Stroke no joke -musta hit that Salt’) Chuck D’s lyrics do not spare anything related to the American food nightmare ‘How happy is a meal/When dancin with cancer,’ while delivering a clear message: ’With that God Bless America/FDA romancing ?/A new old Kinda gangster get down/Pesticide chemical get around/Fastfood industrial sit down/EPAs a gang throw it up now.’
During a recent interview with HipHopDX, Chuck D declared: ‘There’s a lot of people pumping up the volume without saying shit. When style has been over substance for far too long, especially if you 30 and over and you’re spitting man, it’s like yo man, really?’’
Of course, the message is there and clear with Public Enemy, and if you still think food and bad diets are a too-light subject for these rulers of social justice, think twice. Especially during this coronavirus crisis.
It was just reported that African Americans are disproportionally hit by the disease: in states where they make only 18% of the population, they represent up to 45% of hospitalized COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC. A new study reveals that, during these past months, 1 in 3 people who required hospitalization from COVID-19 were African American, despite the fact that African Americans constitute only 13% of the U.S. population.
And why is that? Obviously, it is because diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity are more common among African Americans, and these important health disparities are greatly due to food choices and diet, as Chuck D exposes it clearly in the song. Diseases and diets expose social differences, they are powerful oppression tools, and they need to be addressed especially at a moment when people are dying because of these underlying conditions.
One last thing, apparently the firing of Flavor Flav was sort of a hoax or maybe not? Chuck D sat down with Talib Kweli on the People’s Party podcast and said. ‘I’m not saying it’s a hoax, I’m saying the original intention was to get your attention.’
Meanwhile, Flavor Flav tweeted, ‘I am not a part of your hoax . @mrchuckd,,,there are more serious things in the world right now than April Fool’s jokes and dropping records,,,the world needs better than this,,,you say we are leaders so act like one,,,donate to those in need here’ while linking out to the MusiCares Coronavirus Relief Fund.
In any case, Flavor Flav is featured on the album’s ‘Food As a Machine Gun’ track,