Beats By TAY 019

Track: By The Time I Get To Arizona / Artist: Public Enemy / Album: Apocalypse '91... The Enemy Strikes Black


Today on a Special edition of Beats By TAY, I thought I'd honor MLK day by posting this track from the group (one of my all time favorites) Public Enemy.


If you've never heard of Public Enemy (PE), then you are sorely missing out on one of Hip Hops' greatest super groups. Consisting of Chuck D, Flavor Flav, DJ Lord - who had replaced DJ Terminator X when he retired, Professor Griff, S1W, the Bomb Squad (Hank Shocklee, his brother Keith Shocklee, and Eric "Vietnam" Sadle)and Khari Wynn. The group formed in 1982 and are still going strong today. PE is best known for their socially conscious and politically charged lyrics that focused on injustices withing the African American community, American media, and pop culture. They directly influenced the political/socially conscious genre of Hip Hop into the mainstream.


The music of PE has been influential both Lyrically and aurally. Artists from Canibus and Immortal Technique (two of my personal fave MCs), LowKey, Killer Mike, Dead Prez, and the list goes on. Artists like the ones I've listed and others, help keep the socially conscious genre of Hip Hop alive. Audibly PE was also keepin it fresh to def:

Terminator X's innovative scratching tricks can be heard on the songs "Rebel Without a Pause,", "Night of the Living Baseheads" and "Shut 'Em Down". The Bomb Squad offered up a web of innovative samples and beats. Critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine declared that PE "brought in elements of free jazz, hard funk, even musique concrète, via [its] producing team the Bomb Squad, creating a dense, ferocious sound unlike anything that came before."


Bring The Noise, Bring The Funk

The track "By The Time I Get To Arizona" is one of many controversial songs by the group. At the time the State of Arizona was one of several states that refused to acknowledge MLK day as a national holiday. Evan Mecham(R) who was the governor at the time, was very opposed to the idea. So much so that he overturned the executive order that was placed by the previous Governor Bruce Babbitt(D) in 1986.


The anger and frustration about Mecham's decision is apparent in the lyrics. Lines like:

Population none in the desert and sun
Wit' a gun cracker
Runnin' things under his thumb



Looki lookin' for the governor
Huh he ain't lovin' ya
But here to trouble ya
He's rubbin' ya wrong
Get the point come along

An he can get to the joint
I urinated on the state
While I was kickin' this song
Yeah, he appear to be fair
The cracker over there
He try to keep it yesteryear
The good ol' days
The same ol' ways
That kept us dyin'


Chuck D also throws a jab at those that voted against keeping MLK day in 1990 when the state legislature tried to pass a measure keeping both MLK and Columbus Day.

Yes, you me myself and I'ndeed
What he need is a nosebleed
Read between the lines
Then you see the lie
Politically planned
But understand that's all she wrote
When we see the real side
That hide behind the vote
They can't understand why he the man
I'm singin' 'bout a king
They don't like it
When I decide to mike it
Wait I'm waitin' for the date
For the man who demands respect
'Cause he was great c'mon
I'm on the one mission
To get a politician
To honor or he's a gonner
By the time I get to Arizona


The Lyrics pretty much speak for themselves. The song as a whole speaks to the general consensus of what a lot of the Arizonians who voted for and were in favor of the holiday were feeling at the time. There are states in the south that to this day have a Robert E. Lee holiday, a celebration of a confederate soldier who fought to keep slavery, and yet there are people who don't want to acknowledge MLK for fighting for civil rights and equality. It's no wonder people are mad.

PE's Not A Joke In Your Town

So give the track a listen or two... or three. If you're a seasoned Hip Hop head, Underground Hip Hop Aficionado, or a new school millennial who's just getting into the Hip Hop scene, you just can't go wrong with Public Enemy. You can Truss it.


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