Public Enemy Stand Up for MLK: October 1 in Hip-Hop History
On Oct. 1, Prince released his first record with the New Power Generation, Public Enemy continued one of hip-hop's most impressive creative streaks and Xzibit unleashed a Dr. Dre-produced record.
1991: Public Enemy Releases Apocalypse 91
Public Enemy's Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black is arguably the most musically diverse and densely packed of their groundbreaking early albums. The record topped the charts and spawned four hit singles, but it was the album track "By the Time I Get to Arizona" that got the most attention.
With a title inspired by Isaac Hayes' cover of Glen Campbell's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," it was a sharp rebuke of two states (Arizona and New Hampshire) who initially refused to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday. " It was so much of a smack in the face that I said, well, this needs to be addressed," Chuck D told Spin.
The song was promoted by a video depicting the fictional murder of Arizona governor Evan Mecham. "All the noise came from the video," Chuck D explained. "It was shown once and it made Nightline. We knew that this video would probably be seen no more than five times, but we were okay with that."
1991: Prince Drops Diamonds and Pearls
Along with the release of Prince's 13th studio album came a number of important changes. Feeling that too many artists had nicked his genre-redefining drum machine and synths sound, he made a sudden shift to live drums and more organic instruments. For the first time since the Revolution's last appearance on Parade five years earlier, Diamonds and Pearls found him sharing credit with a new backing band - the New Power Generation.
The album proved to be both a creative and commercial return to form, spawning several hit singles including "Gett Off," "Cream," "Money Don't Matter 2 Night" and the title track. In addition to sharing the spotlight with his new band, Prince made room on the album cover and in the album's videos for two new co-stars, Lori Elle and Rabia LaMorte, who portrayed fictional twins named "Diamond" and "Pearl."
When he soon changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and stopped speaking to the press, they became his voice.
"I wasn’t supposed to be Prince’s muse. He always liked to find a female muse for every season of his work, and for the album Diamonds and Pearls the word was that he was looking for a set of identical twins. I’m not a twin, so that didn’t seem on the cards for me," LaMorte said. "I went along to audition as a back-up dancer for the 'Cream' video. It just so happened that another dancer who auditioned, Lori Elle, looked a bit like me. When Prince saw us together he decided that we could work as the twins. With that a one-week job became two years of my life.
"We shot the 'Cream' video and then 'Gett Off,' 'Strollin’' and 'Diamonds and Pearls.' He had us pose for the album cover, which was amazing, and then it got really crazy," she said. "Around this time Prince changed his name to the Prince logo, and decided he wouldn’t speak directly to the media. So we became his voice – every question he was asked, we would answer. We did all the press, the talk shows, the radio, the magazines… all channelling Prince. We used to have mock interviews where we would learn the ropes and find out what Prince would want us to highlight. He loved us to play up about the nature of our relationship with one another and with Prince. He was so mischievous and loved the speculation about what was going on between the three of us."
2002: Xzibit's Man Vs. Machine Released
Lastly, the fourth record by Xzibit, Man Vs. Machine saw the light of day on Oct. 1, 2002. Featuring contributions from Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, M.O.P. and Nate Dogg, it debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and at the top of the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. It was Dre, with whom Xzibit has worked extensively, who also executive produced the album.
“I don’t know how many unreleased songs I have with Dre," he said. "I’ve been recording with Dre since early 2000. Sometimes I go in and lay a verse. Sometimes I write something. Sometimes I lay a demo. I have no idea what he has but when it come out just be fucking ready. That’s what the deal is.”