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MUSIC

by J. Lovemore                              7:47 PM 

 

VerzusTV might easily be one of the most game-changing platform ever created. The playful match is composed of some of our favorite musical acts coming together to duel each other, classic hit for hit. The digital program was designed for viewers to enjoy the nostalgic melodies that served as the theme music to past events; college parties, family reunions, and cross country road trips. Every month, Instagram Live never disappoints viewers. 

 

Last night, Brandy and Monica reunited for a night of nostalgia. The chemistry on the Verzus session was a moment for two girlfriends coming together listening to old and current music, with viewers; mostly composed of long term fans, witnessing two R&B legends vibe to their songs that have quickly become timeless works of art throughout the years. 

 

The stage design was almost similar to a talk show. Where two female co-hosts humorously interacting with one another, keeping their audience entertained. 

 

Monica dons a dark brown dress with leather boots that reach to her thighs. 

 

Brandy wears a long colorful jacket with ripped blue jeans. Her long braids perfectly illustrate her royal crown in the rhythm and blues genre. 

 

"1 million!" says Black-ish actress and producer Marsai Martin, as the viewership broke Instagram with 1.1 million tuned in. The session was a star-studded line up that included Niecy Nash, Ja Rule, Issa Rae, and more. The feed continued to flow with more Instagram users tuning in to see their favorite singers go head to head. 

 

The live stream parallel to the match between Neo-Soul singers, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. Competition is not present between the two entertainers. It was like watching two seasoned black women coming together reminiscing on their careers and the legacies that they left. 

 

Brandy and Monica were former 90s icons. Both possessed the girl next door vibes when they arrived on the music scene. They were both teenaged entertainers that had the world by storm. 

 

Monica debut album "Miss Thang" was met with positive reviews. Her sophomore project, The Boy is Mine, debuted number three on the Billboard charts. 

 

Brandy was every teenage boy's heartthrob. She epitomized the status of black girl magic. Her debut album went platinum selling over five million copies. In the mid-nineties, she starred in the UPN sitcom Moesha which lasted for six seasons. The soft-spoken voice that was reminiscent of an angelic figure coined her the nickname "The Vocal Bible" by music critics. 

 

Now the two are together in one room. Just enjoying their company. Calmly sitting aside from each other like two aunties retelling old stories from their years as adolescent pop stars.

 

"I wanted to work with you the first time I heard this," says Brandy after Monica signaled the unseen DJ to play "Don't Take It Personal." The "Sitting in my Room" singer told the virtual audience about her admiration for the Atlanta born entertainer. 

 

Although there is nothing but good chemistry present on the live feed; fans, however, are pitting the two singers against each other as they both respectfully play some of their iconic singles that made their careers flourish. 

 

"Brandy knows it's over," says one viewer followed by three laughing emojis. "Monica coming with it hitting Brandy with all blows" types another IG user. The feed was composed of fans showing praise for whomever artists that they are supporting. 

 

Viewers did not get the vibe that they were searching for. Brandy and Monic both delivered a special event that would leave viewers rejoicing them for the cultural heirloom that they both left behind. 

 

The energy in the sound stage was positive. It was like watching two lifelong best friends praise each other's accomplishments. Two college friends from opposite black Greek sororities pacifically enjoying one's company. 

 

Despite the current climate that this country is under, this session has allowed people to heal. It was the proper nutrition that viewers need to digest. There was no rightful winner during the battle. Both mutually deserve the praise for their contributions to creating a soundtrack for every black girl in the world.

Public Enemy posing in 1989.

P.E in unknown date. Chuck D (far left), Flavor Flav (middle) and Professor Griff (right).

Chuck D (left), Flavor Flav (right) and members of Public Enemy leading a march in Brooklyn, NY in 1989, during the filming of Fight The Power music video.

Public Enemy have already established the vital foundation for their career in the late eighties, but it suddenly brought their style to massive attention when then rising director, Spike Lee recruited the rap ensemble to create a song for his next junior film would soon be labeled by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, and aesthetically”. Lee, 31 at the time, wrote, produced, directed and even starred in Do The Right Thing, an episodic dramedy about racial tensions violently escalating in a neighborhood inside Bedford Stuyvesant, NY; on one of the hottest days of the summer. The now legendary director wanted to use Public Enemy’s song, “Fight The Power” for the theme music for the film’s legendary character, Radio Raheem — a young b boyish Brooklynite who cherishes nothing other than his prized boombox.

The outcome of this song brought excessive success to the group, however both the song and the movie drew controversy. Although the film accurately portrayed how scorching weather can push people to the brink of insanity, the film was criticized for allegedly promoting violence. Critical judgement falls on Public Enemy for a simple line that gives hints that they also help innovate the gangsta rap genre.

“Elvis was a hero to most but he never meant s — — t to me you see straight up racist and sucker was simple and plain…”Mother — — — — him and John Wayne” — Chuck D & Flavor Flav (Fight the Power 1988).

The controversy continues as Chuck D stresses on how his black idols do not appear on stamp cards, instead are nothing but white figures on their. The symbolism in this song urged people of color to wake up. Both Public Enemy and Spike Lee used their body of art to detail struggle that kept blacks silent.

3. THE BIRTH OF SISTAH SOULJAH AND DEFIANT MOVEMENT

Photo of Sistah Souljah. Circa 1999.

It is a shame that the young generation have little knowledge of Public Enemy. Yet, people — both young and old generations do not have a clue that there was a female member of the group, and the growing number of goals she accomplished over the years. Sistah Souljah, born Lisa Williamson, was a full member of the group after the departure of Professor Griff; when his Anti Semetic comments placed the group under fire. Sistah Souljah was not your average female emcee that was blessed with an omnipotent voice and strong talent for poetry, she was a woman that was destined to become a leader.

During her time as a college years, Souljah was heavily involved in foreign international studies, and was even offered a job civil rights legend Rev. Benjamin Chavis. Her career in media was dysfunctional. Her debut album 360 Degres of Power received negative reviews from critics. Although her album did not achieve commercial glory, her opinions on the 1992 presidential election put Souljah on the map.

While being interviewed for the Washington Post, Sistah Souljah was asked about the state of black on black violence. She answered,

“If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people”

The result of her comments drew anger from Anglo Americans, especially the then presidential candidate Bill Clinton, who tried to persuade Jesse Jackson to remove her from the Democratic campaign party. With her highly publicized comment placing her the trending topic at the time, it eventually led to the creation of the Sistah Souljah movement. Besides her being a motivational speaker and poet, Souljah is a best selling author having six of her books being listed on the NY Times.

4. THE MISADVENTURES OF FLAVOR FLAV

Flavor Flav (Circa 1987)

It would never be a Public Enemy biopic if Flavor Flav is never present. As Chuck D’s hype man, Flav, born William Drayton Jr, made sure the crowd had more than enough. His signature catchphrase, bizarre personality, weird fashion sense and uncontrollable attitude have put the Midas touch in both P.E’s and Flav’s career. His talent for music is remarkable as he is quoted to being potent in fifteen instruments. His memorable antics onstage and in the studio strongly parallels to Eazy E of N.W.A, Geto Boys’ Bushwick Bill and Ol Dirty Basterd in Wu Tang Clan.

Not only Flav’s popularity was the center point of the group, but his legal trouble with the law seemed to follow him. His battle with law enforcement dates back to his high school years, and has stayed with him ever since. In the early nineties, Flavor Flav was charged with a number of criminal offenses, some include domestic violence and drug abuse.

During the early 2000’s, it seemed as if Flavor Flav had a chance for stardom redemption when we starred in his own VH1 reality show titled Flavor of Love; a game show where female contestants compete to see if they are right for Flav.

5. THEIR CONTROVERSIAL ANTICS MADE THEM A THREAT TO AMERICA

Public Enemy took black pride to another level. However, it was on a height that untraceable. In January of 1987, Evan Mecham, Governor of Arizona at the time decided to cancel the Martin Luther King Jr holiday in the state because it was not legally authorized. This upsetting news did not sit well with Public Enemy. The band took their anger out, both in the studio.

The group recorded “By the Time I Get To Arizona”, a diss track aimed towards the late Mecham. The song was later accompanied by a music video where it featured the rap group contemplating an assassination attempt on Govenor Mecham. When the controversy was thought to be cooled down, the fire continued to spread.

In the year of 1989, Public Enemy received backlash during an interview David Mills of the Washington Post. Mills asked the group about their opinion on the political conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis. Professor Griff, former Minister of Information, took the opportunity to tell Mills how the Jews were responsible for most of evil in the world. The comment not only led Griff to be removed from the group, but also led Chuck D to take a leave of absence from the public eye.

Public Enemy has been considered to be one of Hip Hop’s most iconic group. They have changed the game through music, style and narrative. It is fortunate that movies based on high profile individuals in music is the new trend for entertainment. We hear the music, we watch the interviews, and we tune in to the documentaries, and they gratify us. But, a group so pivotal in Hip Hop like Public Enemy, they should have the opportunity to have their musical achievements put on script.

Black America needs to see more influential musicians of color on film. Public Enemy have brought precision into music, and their legacy should not be ignored.

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