Today in Hip Hop History: October 1, 1991
Politically charged hip hop group Public Enemy released their fourth studio album, Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black, through Def Jam Recordings in 1991. The title of the album mixes titles from the classic films Apocalypse Now and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. It debuted the production backing from team Imperial Grand Ministers of Funk alongside executive production from The Bomb Squad. It features Sister Souljah, True Mathematics and an interesting mashup of “Bring Tha Noize” with Anthrax.
The album contained four singles: “Bring the Noise,” “Can’t Truss It,” “Shut ‘Em Down,” and “Night Train.” The controversial song “By the Time I Get to Arizona” depicts the group killing the Arizona governor, who at the time refused to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as a holiday.
Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. It became RIAA Certified Platinum within two months of its release. Critical reception was highly favorable, with comments such as “one of the great records of the golden age of hip hop,” and “good, but not as indispensable as its predecessors.”