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Flavor Flav Blasts Bernie Sanders LA Rally: 'There Is No Public Enemy Without Flavor Flav'

Flavor Flav
Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Republic Records

Flavor Flav attends Republic Records Grammy After Party at 1 Hotel West Hollywood on Jan. 26, 2020 in West Hollywood, Calif.

The rapper is accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of using his “likeness, image and trademarked clock in promotional materials” without his permission.

As it turns out, Flavor Flav isn’t Feeling the Bern.

With Public Enemy slated to perform at a Bernie Sanders rally on Sunday in Los Angeles, a founding member of the legendary hip-hop group (a.k.a. William Drayton) is accusing the Vermont senator of misappropriating his likeness and promoting “a false narrative” that the group has endorsed his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“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.”

The letter goes on to accuse the Sanders campaign of the unauthorized use of Flavor Flav’s “likeness, image and trademarked clock in promotional materials” that have been circulated to promote the forthcoming rally, even though he will not be taking part in the event.

“Sanders has promised to ‘Fight the Power’ with hip hop icons Public Enemy – but this Rap Icon will not be performing at the Sanders Rally,” the letter continues. “To be clear Flav and, by extension, the Hall of Fame hip hop act Public Enemy with which his likeness and name have become synonymous has not endorsed any political candidate in this election cycle and any suggestion to the contrary is plainly untrue. The continued publicizing of this grossly misleading narrative is, at a minimum, careless and irresponsible if not intentionally misleading.”

The letter goes on to call the Sanders campaign a “fake revolution” and claims that Flav is “reaching out, not in the spirit of division, but for the sake of unity in the hope of preserving the integrity of the Public Enemy Movement and the faith and trust his millions of fans around the world have placed in him.”

When reached for comment, Chuck D sent the following statement to Billboard: "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."

In his own statement, a lawyer for Chuck D added, "From a legal standpoint, Chuck could perform as Public Enemy if he ever wanted to; he is the sole owner of the Public Enemy trademark. He originally drew the logo himself in the mid-80’s, is also the creative visionary and the group’s primary songwriter, having written Flavor’s most memorable lines.”

Flav has had a rocky relationship with Public Enemy over the years. In August 2017, the rapper sued Chuck D and members of the group’s production and management team, claiming he had not been receiving royalties or been compensated for the sale of Public Enemy merchandise bearing his name and likeness, among other claims. He further alleged that Public Enemy’s last album, 2017’s Nothing Is Quick in the Desert, was released without his knowledge or consent and included vocals “not up to his standards of quality.”

Read the full letter below.

Re: Creating Division within Public Enemy through Appropriation of Likeness

Senator Sanders,

We have been retained to represent the interests of William Drayton p.k.a. Flavor Flav concering recent false reporting of Public Enemy’s endorsement of the Bernie Sanders campaign as well as the unauthorized use of his likeness, image and trademarked clock in promotional materials circulated by the campaign and its network of online operatives in support of Bernie’s upcoming rally.

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. 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.

It appears the Sanders campaign has been content to sit back and allow the media to promote a false narrative to the American people. Sanders has promised to “Fight the Power” with hip hop icons Public Enemy – but this Rap Icon will not be performing at the Sanders Rally. To be clear Flav and, by extension, the Hall of Fame hip hop act Public Enemy with which is likeness and name have become synonymous has not endorsed any political candidate in this election cycle and any suggestion to the contrary is plainly untrue. The continued publicizing of this grossly misleading narrative is, at a minimum, careless and irresponsible if not intentionally misleading.

Flav is reaching out, not in the spirit of division, but for the sake of unity in the hope of preserving the integrity of the Public Enemy Movement and the faith and trust his millions of fans around the world have placed in him. Over more than 30 years in the public spotlight – whether on television or radio – Flav has always delivered his authentic self. That authenticity compels him to speak out to ensure voters are not misled and that Public Enemy’s music does not become the soundtrack of a fake revolution.

This is hardly the first time the establishment has tried to define Flav and Public Enemy. They claimed he and his bandmates were drug dealing gang members – they weren’t. They were artists using their music and platform to fight injustice, advocate for their community and strive for truth and transparency against an establishment which wanted to keep people in the dark. With songs like 911 is a Joke; Fight The Power; Harder Than You Think; and Don’t Believe The Hype Flavor Flav and Public Enemy didn’t just talk about revolution – they started one that brought about real lasting systemic change. The Public Enemy Movement cannot allow its cultural identity, likeness and life’s work to be misappropriated by political operatives in support of a fictional revolution – Don’t Believe The Hype!

It is unfortunate that a political campaign would be so careless with the artistic integrity of such iconoclastic figures in American culture. Sanders claims to represent everyman not the man yet his grossly irresponsible handling of Chuck’s endorsement threatens to divide Public Enemy and, in so doing, forever silence one of our nation’s loudest and most enduring voices for social change. Perhaps Sanders didn’t intend to sow these irreconcilable differences but, by and through his disregard for the truth, he has nonetheless. If Bernie allows this deceptive marketing to continue without clearly correcting the messaging to reflect the true nature of this endorsement which should accurately read: “Chuck D of Public Enemy” – Senator Sanders will himself have played a part in whitewashing a key chapter in American History.

Bernie, his name is Flavor Flav and he does NOT approve your message!


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