Believe me, no introduction is needed to what Public Enemy has achieved in their long and illustrious career, both culturally and musically. The famous collective of talented, hardhitting and politically-charged hip-hoppers has had their music heard all over the world, from Radio Raheem’s stereo to live shows in London.
But the members of Public Enemy have always been an odd, obscure bunch of artists with their own unique backgrounds, skills, and personalities that made them such an exciting group to listen to–and it was their strong personalities that beat us over the head for more than twenty years. We all know Chuck D., the group’s frontman, primary vocalist, leader and poet, whose commanding, charismatic voice still resonates in our ears. To this day he has maintained an extremely straight edge life style, resisting meat, alcohol and drugs–the man hasn’t even tasted coffee. Flavor Flav, the group’s hype-man and arguably most famous member (sadly), has never shyed from showing off his wild and insane antics to the world, from yelling his ass off on stage, to picking up attempted murder and domestic violence charges, to starring on weird MTV reality shows. Professor Griff, once a soldier in the army, started out as a bodyguard of sorts, working for a private security service hired by local hip-hop acts for parties and shows, where he met an aspiring DJ-for-hire by the name of Chuck D. He was (and still is) a proficient martial artist, having studied Chinese Wushu and Japanese Karate among other forms. He was later kicked out of the group for controversy surrounding his ridiculous and odious anti-semitic comments to British media outlets, but later rejoined in the mid 90’s.
But where the hell is Terminator X, you ask me? Why haven’t you written about him yet? Well, since I’m here pretending like you haven’t read the title, good question. Terminator X is and always will be the most overlooked member of Public Enemy. Period. Nevermind the track “Terminator X to the Edge of Panic,” in which Chuck D. shouts him out repeatedly over a classic turntable hook that everyone who has or hasn’t seen Friday Night Lights knows and loves. Simply put, the success, fame, and influence of Public Enemy will forever shadow the role of Terminator X as the group’s DJ, as well as the solo masterpieces he put out during the nineties. His reticent and shy personality has put him at a disadvantage over his bandmates for media glory, and unfairly so. But there is no use to complain about this–every group needs a glue guy in the background doing his damn thing without attention. All the members can’t be getting pinched and doing bids in Riker’s Island; that wouldn’t suffice, would it?
In 1991, Terminator X collaborated with various and mostly unknown artists to create his first solo album, the classic Terminator X & the Valley of the Jeep Beets. On this gem, X demonstrates not only his sublime turntabling skills–maybe the best ever through an entire album–but also his deft handling of production. The head-bobbing drums and heavy basslines on this album will simply kick your ass. Song lyrics are similar in style and theme to the politically-charged, black activism of Public Enemy, but with a wider range in artists and perspectives. Standout tracks include “Buck Whylin'” with Chuck D. and Sister Souljah (yes, that Sister Souljah–who also happens to be an author and contributor to The New Yorker), “Back to the Scene of the Bass” with The Interrogators, and “The Blues” with Andres 13, as well as my personal favorite, “Juvenile Delinquentz” by the Juvenile Delinquentz. Befitting of it’s producer and DJ, the album stands as one of the most underrated works of the 90’s.
Terminator X has carved out a place in hip-hop history as one of the greatest and most versatile DJ’s to ever operate a turntable, up there with Eric B., Preme, Flash, and Jazzy Jeff among other legendary disc-jockeys.
So what weird, otherworldly endeavours could Terminator X possibly be involved in now? What is he up to that we haven’t already seen from Public Enemy’s other members? Well according to The Guardian, he currently owns an ostrich farm. Yes, I just said ostrich farm. Flavor Flav’s bachelor show ain’t got shit on that.
1. â€œVendetta…The Big Getback”
2. “Buck Whylin'” (with Chuck D & Sister Souljah)
3. “Homey Don’t Play Dat” (with Bonnie ‘N’ Clyde]
4. “Juvenile Delinquintz” (with Juvenile Delinquentz]
5. “The Blues” (with Andreas 13)
6. “Back To The Scene Of The Bass” (with The Interrogators)
7. “Can’t Take My Style”
8. “Wanna Be Dancin'” (with Celo of The Casino Brothers)
9. “DJ Is The Selector” (with Dubmaster)
10. “Run That Go-Power Thang” (with Spacey B. Experience)
11. “No Further” (with Section 8)
12. “High Priest Of Turbulence”
13. “Ain’t Got Nuttin'” (with The Chief Groovy Loo)
“Juvenile Delinquentz” is a particularly fascinating song, told from the perspective of three black teenagers condemning the biases shown in America’s educational system. Although I don’t agree with some of the anti-school messages present, much of what is said holds serious weight. Kids are taught everything in America’s “glorious” past from American independence to the World Wars–which are important historical events–yet much of the facts behind slavery, colonialism, and African roots are missing to a people that had their roots taken from them long ago. The educational system has definitely improved, but the song is nonetheless an interesting description of what I’m sure many students must have felt not so long ago.
Yeaaaaa boiii–too much? Alright. But enjoy!