The diminutive rapper has played a massive role in shaping hip-hop culture. In 1980s New York City, Flav (real name William Drayton) joined forces with Chuck D, Terminator X and Professor Griff to launch Public Enemy, a take-no-crap hip-hop act that inspired countless others to fuse politics with fiery wordplay.
Public Enemy lit the blue touch paper with their 1988 album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, which was entered by the Recording Academy into its Grammy Hall of Fame.
In its first year of eligibility, Public Enemy were inducted into the Rock Hall in 2013, becoming just the fourth hip-hop act to get the nod, following Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys.
Flav has been on the outer and his relationship with his bandmates took a legal turn when his reps issued a cease and desist letter to Bernie Sanders’ campaign following news that Chuck D would perform at the Democratic candidate’s rally Sunday in Los Angeles.
“We have become aware that Flavor’s bandmate and Public Enemy co-creator, Chuck D, has endorsed Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for President and plans to perform at an upcoming Sanders Rally,” reads an open letter written by attorney Matthew H. Friedman of Nevada law firm Ford & Friedman that was sent to Billboard on Friday (Feb. 28). “While Chuck is certainly free to express his political views as he sees fit – his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy. The planned performance will only be Chuck D of Public Enemy, it will not be a performance by Public Enemy. Those who truly know what Public Enemy stands for know what time it is, there is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav.”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Chuck D said of Flav, “Flavor chooses to dance for his money and not do benevolent work like this. He has a year to get his act together and get himself straight or he’s out.”
Chuck D, who also played with the recently disbanded Prophets of Rage, also went on the attack with a string of tweets. "I don’t attack FLAV on what he don’t know," reads one message. "I gotta leave him at the crib so y’all trying to fill his persona with some political aplomb is absolutely stupid."
Time’s already up, judging by the 125-word statement issued late Sunday on behalf of Public Enemy and Public Enemy Radio.
The message continues, “Public Enemy Radio, made up of Chuck D, DJ Lord, Jahi and the S1Ws taking it back to hip hop’s original DJ-and-turntablist foundation, will be performing today at the Bernie Sanders rally in Los Angeles. The free event is being held at the Los Angeles Convention Center beginning at 4:00pm PT with the group taking the stage at 6:00pm PT. It can be viewed via livestream HERE. Public Enemy Radio will be releasing a new album in April, ‘Loud is Not Enough.’”