Public Enemy's Chuck D. tells the story behind the songs on 1990's smash 'Fear of a Black Planet.' Read, listen and learn. Excerpted from Chuck D's "Lyrics Of A Rap Revolutionary." Used with Permission of the Author.
"Incident At 66.6 FM' was actually a live radio interview that I did at WNBC in New York before a show we did with Run-DMC at Nassau Coliseum. Those people you hear in the record actually called the station. One person called and said, "I don't believe these guys you have on your show. I seen them with the Beastie Boys, a couple of people were wearing their shirts and I think they're scum.' Another person called up and said, "Yeah, PE in full effect.' All that was real. Another person called up and said, "Why they hell do you have these monkeys on?' Another person called up, "Terminator X.' So it was people routing for us and people routing against us. I took that and pieced it together and made a whole song about it which led into "Welcome to the Terrordome.'
When we dropped "911 Is A Joke' we were already overseas. We had left to go over to Europe in March, so the song was being debuted while we were in Europe. In Europe they were like, "9-11 is a joke?' The didn't know what 911 was. So we explained to people that 911 is the emergency system and how it doesn't come to black neighborhoods on time, they'll be delayed or get there whenever they get there. They would prefer a white neighborhood and will get there quick. They ignore us.
"911 Is A Joke' was a title I wrote down in the beginning of 1989 and gave to Flavor and said, "Here I want you to write this song. Here's the title, '911 Is A Joke,' write a story about 9-1-1.' It took a year, but Flavor was saying he had a personal incident that he could relate that to. At the end of the year when it was time for him to record he was ready. Keith had the track, and it was the funkiest track I heard. It reminded me of uptempo Parliament Funkadelic. Myself and Eric added the hooks and the arrangement to it. It only had two verses. We brought in a couple of Flavor's friends from Freeport to do background vocals to give it that real back-in-the-projects feel.
There was so much drama in September and October of that year for me that I took my Bronco and one Friday night I drove to Allentown, Pennsylvania. I wrote that jam driving out to Allentown, stayed out there, and then drove back the next morning and finished writing "Welcome to the Terrordome.' I came back and we cut it in Greene Street. I just let all the drama come out of me. "I got so much trouble on my mind, I refuse to lose. Here's your ticket, here the drummer get wicked.' That was some true stuff. I just dropped everything I was feeling.
"Welcome to the Terrordome,' what does it mean? It means the 1990's are coming, if we as a people do the right thing we'll be all right, if we do the wrong thing the black situation is out of here at the end of the decade. The terrordome is the 1990's. I got it from this article called "Welcome to the Terrordrome' that was in Melody Maker magazine. I just changed it to Terrordome, the house of the 90's.
"Meet the G that Killed Me' was an experimental jam. The whole jam was only a minute long. The 'G' could have been a girl, a guy, a germ, the government. It was about how AIDS was transferred. We were questioning whether AIDS is a man-made disease. It starts out with a sample of Dr. Francis Cress Welsing. Flavor brings his girl to a gig, but she already gave him the germ, and he was like, "What's up y'all, meet the G that killed me.' He was gone, he was dead, it's over, there's no cure for this disease. The release of these lyrics occurred in an atmosphere about a year before Magic Johnson's admission of contracting HIV.
"Pollywannacracka' talks about race preference and how a lot of brothers will get a white girl based on what they think a white girl could offer, not on love. The same thing with sisters dissing brothers and talking to a white boy because he has some ends. The record was a little controversial in itself. This was written in 1990, where the mainstream still had cultural apartheid going on, and hip-hop was mashing young people into each other. Vanilla Ice, 3rd Bass and six years of the Beasties had broken a lot of ice and MTV couldn't stop the black faces from entering white towns and living rooms with rap. Thus the concept of race and love were issued in discussion and ushered in through the back door of rap.