One of the Biggest Rap Groups in History Breaks Up Over...Bernie?

AP Photo/John Locher

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)




Remember that time Yoko Ono (allegedly) broke up the Beatles?

And remember that time Bernie Sanders broke up Public Enemy?

That’s right — the democratic socialist has found himself at center of the dissolution of one of rap’s most (in)famous groups.

And when I say they’ve broken up, I mean the organization has fired its famed eccentric clock-wearer, Flavor Flav.

As a bit of background, Public Enemy formed in New York in the 80’s and perhaps peaked — or cemented themselves into music history — with their 1989 hit “Fight the Power,” which served as the theme to Spike Lee’s Oscar-nominated Do the Right Thing.

The group — known for their militant presentation, as seen in this explicit-language video — boasted a logo which looked like a silhouetted police officer in the sights of a gun. However, political co-frontman Chuck D explained to Rolling Stone magazine that the figure was a black man wearing a Run-DMC-style hat.

As it turns out, Mr. D — who’s always been about revolution, and not necessarily the peaceful kind (he once called the 1963 civil rights march “a bit of nonsense”) — is a big fan of Bernie’s version of hope and change.


Therefore, Chuck agreed to perform at a Sanders rally, the promotion for which used the group’s name. Kind of.

Rolling Stone explains:

Public Enemy was billed at the rally as “Public Enemy Radio,” an offshoot of the group that includes Chuck D, DJ Lord, Jahi and S1Ws but not Flavor Flav. Still, two days before the rally, Flavor Flav sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Sanders campaign, accusing it of using the hypeman’s “unauthorized likeness, image and trademarked clock,” to promote the rally, even though Flavor Flav hadn’t endorsed a candidate.

Here’s more from the letter:

While Chuck is certainly free to express his political view 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,” a lawyer representing Flav, Matthew Friedman, said in the letter at the time, according to Rolling Stone.

… The continued publicizing of this grossly misleading narrative is, at a minimum, careless and irresponsible if not intentionally misleading. It is unfortunate that a political campaign would be so careless with the artistic integrity of such iconoclastic figures in American culture.


As per NBC, the eccentric entertainer included a doodle:

Flav added a handwritten message at the bottom of the note, saying “Hey Bernie, don’t do this,” with a drawing of his iconic clock.

Chuck responded by saying Flav didn’t know the difference between Bernie and Barry:

Well, he certainly knows who Donald Trump is; Flav had this to say at South by Southwest in 2016:

“I’m not really the politician of the group. There’s a lot of people talking a lot of shit about Trump, but guess what? He’s winning. The man is winning. I ain’t gonna lie, but listen, the United States has been ran a certain way for decades and decades and decades. You never know: Maybe Trump could possibly do something. Maybe he might step in office and do something. I’m not going to doubt him. … [H]e’s winning fairly, but they still don’t want him to be president. They’re going to try to block that man from being president. If Donald Trump does become president, there’s only one thing we all can do: just sit back and let the man do his job.”


That was after Chuck had yelled during their show, “Black Lives Matter! F— Donald Trump!”

In response to Flav Sunday, Chuck referenced an incident about which he’s apparently still upset: The clocked hypeman refused to appear at Harry Belafonte’s Many Rivers Festival in 2016.

Chuck established “Public Enemy Radio” in order to do fundraisers without his partner:

I guess that last straw led to the last straw.

Hence, the group issued a statement Sunday:

“Public Enemy and Public Enemy Radio will be moving forward without Flavor Flav. We thank him for his years of service and wish him well.”


Flavor is sour:

He also claims he can’t be fired:


All this over Bernie, who Chuck believes can Fight the Power.


So there ya go — Bernie and Yoko. The muses that broke up the bands.

Some fans are upset:

Yep, All Mystics. Over some ooooooold white dude.



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