So just what is the purpose of resuscitating for a remix one of the iffy and only marginally successful albums of Public Enemy’s second-stage career? Rapper/producer Paris has achieved the near-impossible by constructing a retooled and remarkably solid album out of an original artifact, 2006’s Rebirth of a Nation, that never seemed complete on its own.
These days, it seems as if Paris has usurped Flava Flav’s position as second-in-command in the Public Enemy hierarchy, which is probably a good thing. With only a few brain cells left, poor Flav seems content being VH1’s resident shuck-and-jiver, only showing up at P.E. recording sessions to throw in an occasional comedic aside.
Paris, on the other hand, holds the ability to refocus Chuck D.’s formidable lyrical strengths into something powerful. The key to the success of Remix is the newly added samples, usually sound bites from news broadcasts, which underscore Chuck’s assertions. “Hell No, We Ain’t Alright,” for example, is a lot more unsettling when supported by snippets of coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
Interestingly, the emphasis of the entire album is on the lyrics, which seems odd for a remix. The result is a jarring pastiche of sound as upsetting as its lyrical foundation. The beats are tweaked, providing a solid structure that’s both scary and fun to listen to. Remix is a reminder, in case you’ve forgotten, of just how important Public Enemy really is.