Keith Richards is to the Rolling Stones What Flavor Flav is to Public Enemy
Another post in English:
I recently looked into Sly & Robbie’s back catalog which included a collaboration with the Rolling Stones („Too Much Blood“ on 1983’s „Undercover“ album). This made me revisit several of my favorite Stones albums as well.
While doing this, I reencountered „Too Rude“ from 1986’s „Dirty Work“ album – a song which features lead vocalist Keith Richards and which is closer to ‚roots reggae‘ than „Too Much Blood“ (despite Sly & Robbie’s involvement in the latter). Here’s a very nice 1988 version by Keith Richards & his Expensive Winos:
This version reminded me of the fact that Keith Richards has always been my favorite Stone, and that his ’solo‘ songs on the Stones albums usually were personal highlights to me. His vocals are raw and uneven, but – to me – they are rock’n’roll. Kompared to Keef, Mick is a mere poser – more pop than rock.
Which brings me to the Flavor Flav comparison. I like P.E. better than the Rolling Stones, and I certainly prefer Chuck to Mick. But Flav’s contributions to P.E.’s albums (like „911 Is a Joke“ and „Get Off My Back“) have always been among my favorite P.E. songs because they have a more distinct funk flavor than Chuck’s political hip-hop. My mind prefers Chuck’s heavy-hitting, angry lyrics and the Bomb Squad’s noisy production, but my ass grooves to Flav’s sillyness. ;-)
In a (German-language) blog entry about a P.E. show in 2008 („Public Enemy: Die großen alten Herren des Polit-HipHop in Höchstform“), I posted a 30-second video clip which (IMO) captures Flavor’s live energy. Unfortunately, the sound quality is sub-par – better turn down your speakers‘ volume before hitting the „Play“ button:
For a more detailed praise of Public Enemy, check out „Meine 15 Lieblingsalben (3/3 – 1987-2004)“ (in case you read German).
[Before posting this article, I googled for similar comparisons of P.E. and R.S. In 2005, The Guardian published a very insightful story: „Still raging after all these years“.
Short excerpt: >> He (Chuck D) smiles. „You know, the brilliant aspect is that through all our controversies and trials and tribulations, Flavor is Flav and Griff is Griff. It makes it easier for me to be me. Flavor Flav is Keith Richards. Or Jagger. Maybe I’m Richards, who knows.“ He stops talking for a second, as if searching for the right soundbite. Then he finds it. „Public Enemy,“ he chuckles. „Rolling Stones of the rap game.“ <<]