Within the space of a week, both Dr. Dre and Public Enemy have released new studio albums and as such it’s hard not to take a step back to google something on your phone just to reassure yourself that it really is 2015 and not the early ’90s. Dre’s album, Compton, was primarily used as a tool to fuel the hype of the NWA film. However, P.E’s decision to make a comeback was fuelled by an unsettled political landscape in America – pretty much the same reason for their initial formation in the late ’80s. Citing Kendrick Lamar and Run the Jewels as sources of inspiration, they hit the studio to create Man Plans God Laughs, yet another record full of politically charged anthems and unique productions.
To say the album is stereotypically P.E is an understatement, but that doesn’t mean we have heard it all before. Adapting to a more modern approach with the production, most notably on the exhilarating ‘Those Who Know, Know Who’, Public Enemy prove that you might not actually need multiple chaotic samples layered on top of each other to create a captivating Public Enemy album. Man Plans God Laughs doesn’t instantly demand attention like their classic releases, but 28 years into a career, that’s a hard quality to maintain.
Many of the topics touched on lyrically are of vital importance too – Chuck D has always had the ability to provide brash and honest views on what’s wrong with the world. On ‘Earthizen’, for example, he gives an alphabetised rundown of some vital life advice and why you should not accept everything you are told as fact. This is why Public Enemy have always been, and will continue to be, an important act not just in the realm of hip hop but in music in general. They mirror the social conscience of many minds around the world and use their platform to assure these people that they are not alone in their thinking.
Man Plans God Laughs will definitely not get the same amount of publicity or achieve the same sales that Dr. Dre’s album has. If anything, the surprise release from Dre has overshadowed the fact that the act who directly inspired NWA were also returning. However, this shouldn’t downplay the importance of this album or of Public Enemy. They have returned, maybe not with as big of a bang as you might have hoped, but they’re here, they’re loud and they have a voice that needs to be heard.