->''"Whatcha gonna do? Rap is not afraid of you"''
-->-- '''Chuck D''', "Bring the Noise" - ''Music/ItTakesANationOfMillionsToHoldUsBack''.

->''"Yeeeeeah, booooooooooyyyyeeee!"''
-->-- '''Flavor Flav''', hype man

In 1986, the founder of Def Jam records Rick Rubin, in cooperation with Bill Stephney, signed an MC named Carlton "Chuck D" Ridenhour to his label. Said MC came up with a plan, that involved combining politically charged lyrics with hard-hitting productions. To that end, he formed Public Enemy with his two friends, hype-man William "Flavor Flav" Drayton and DJ Norman "Terminator X" Rogers, with the production crew known as the Bomb Squad (Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee, and Eric Sadler) to produce their albums. The result is one of the most highly regarded hip-hop groups of all time.

The hallmarks of Public Enemy's style are the interplay between Chuck D's sociopolitical diatribes (delivered in a booming, LargeHam-my voice) and Flavor Flav's comic relief humour (high-pitched squealing) and The Bomb Squad's dense, innovative productions, incorporating many samples at once, and even harsh, unmusical sounds.

Their first three albums often appear on lists of the best hip-hop albums of all time.

!!Public Enemy members:
* Chuck D (Carlton Ridenhour) - rapping
* Flavor Flav (William Drayton) - hype man, comic relief
* Terminator X (Norman Rodgers) - DJ, scratching, production

!!The Bomb Squad members:
* Hank Shocklee (James Boxley)
* Keith Shocklee (Keith Boxley)
* Chuck D (Carlton Ridenhour, sometimes credited as "Carl Ryder")
* Eric "Vietnam" Sadler
* Gary G-Wiz (Gary Rinaldo)

!!Additional fringe contributors:
* Bill Stephney - bass, guitars, additional production and mixing on ''Yo! Bum Rush the Show''
* Steve Linsley - bass, mixing on ''Yo! Bum Rush the Show''
* Johnny Rosado - scratching on ''Yo! Bum Rush the Show'' and ''It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back''
* DJ Lord - replacement DJ after Terminator X left in 1999
* Professor Griff (Richard Griffin) - Minister of Information, who was forced out of the band from 1989 to 1998 after being accused of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professor_Griff anti-semitism]]
* Harry Allen - journalist, "media assassin"
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S1W Security of the First World]]
* 1987 - ''Yo! Bum Rush the Show''
* 1988 - ''Music/ItTakesANationOfMillionsToHoldUsBack''
* 1990 - ''Music/FearOfABlackPlanet''
* 1991 - ''Apocalypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Black''
* 1994 - ''Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age''
* 1998 - ''He Got Game''
* 1999 - ''There's A Poison Goin' on''
* 2002 - ''Revolverlution''
* 2005 - ''New Whirl Odor''
* 2006 - ''Rebirth of a Nation'' (featuring Paris)
* 2007 - ''How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul?''
* 2012 - ''Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamps''
* 2012 - ''The Evil Empire Of Everything''
* 2015 - ''Man Plans God Laughs''
!!This group contains examples of:
* AlbumTitleDrop: From "Party For Your Right To Fight":
--> "But it's proven and fact\\
And ''it takes a nation of millions to hold us back''".
** From "Live and Undrugged Pts. 1 and 2":
--> "''Muse Sick In Hour Mess Age''"
** From "MKLVFKWR"[[note]]"Make Love, Fuck War"[[/note]]
-->"''New Whirl Odor'', doesn't need us"
** From "Get Up, Stand Up":
--> "''Most of my heroes still don't appear on no stamp'', so I rant"
* AlcoholInducedIdiocy: "One Million Bottlebags"
* AlliterativeTitle: "How You '''S'''ell '''S'''oul To A '''S'''oulless People Who '''S'''old Their '''S'''oul?"
* ArcWords: ''"Public Enemy Number One"'' and ''"Bring the Noise"'' are all over their work.
* AudienceParticipationSong: Many of the interludes and introductions on ''It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'' were recorded during their 1987 UK tour.
* BlackGalOnWhiteGuyDrama: The first verse of "Pollywannacracka".
* TheCameo: Not one you'd usually expect... Stephen Stills doing guest vocals on "He Got Game" (which samples "For What It's Worth").
* CatchPhrase: "Yeeaaaaaah boooooyeeeee!!!!"
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Flavor Flav with his bizarre antics.
* ConceptAlbum: Most of their albums deal with the problems faced by the black community in the USA and the government's oppression.
* ConceptVideo: "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" depicts Chuck and a few of his compatriots escaping from a prison.
* {{Corpsing}}: Flav at the end of "Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya Man".
* CourtroomEpisode: "Caught, Can We Get A Witness?" is framed in a courtroom setting, complete with banging gavel at the beginning.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: Flavor Flav, especially in recent years, seems more like a caricature of a rapper than a genuine MC. But he is by all accounts a very intelligent guy, and plays fifteen instruments. This made Terminator X's job easier because instead of looking for certain samples, Flav could just play them and X would use his recording.
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment: The album title ''How You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul?''
* DownerEnding: If it's a ConceptVideo from PE telling a story, it usually ends this way.
** "Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos" & "Hazy Shade Of Criminal": The protagonist is executed.
** "Can't Truss It": A black man is hanged and another is out of a job (the video has a past/present TwoLinesNoWaiting scenario).
** "Brothers Gonna Work It Out": A group of young, energetic activists bring their petition to the authorities... only to have the authorities send it straight to the trash can.
* DrugsAreBad: "Megablast", "Night of the Living Baseheads".
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: ''Yo! Bum Rush the Show'' can throw people off if they hear it after the later material... in fact, you hardly ever hear Chuck rapping about sex:
--> '''Chuck D''' ''(from "Timebomb")'': I'll be the burger, you can be the bun, girl!
* FunetikAksent: The ''Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age'' title ("music and our message"). While done for impact, it still makes some sense.
* UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfHipHop
* IconicItem: Flavor Flav and his giant clock medallions. To a lesser extent, his Viking helmet.
* ImageSong: you could make an argument for "Bring the Noise".
* InTheStyleOf: the "Bring the Noise" collaboration with Music/{{Anthrax}} on ''Apocalypse 91''.
** Done once again recently with "Bring the Noise 20XX", a new mix featuring Zakk Wylde on guitar (and half of the original lyrics), featured on ''VideoGame/GuitarHero 5''.
* KentBrockmanNews: The video for "Night Of The Living Baseheads" is set up as a newscast. Flavor Flav is one of the anchors for the fictional ''PETV'', comedian Chris Thomas and rapper MC Lyte are field reporters, and Chuck D is the subject of a kidnapping. The video doesn't take itself too seriously, as judged by the "Beeper Tie" commercial.
* LargeHam: Chuck D.
* ListSong: Where to start...
* TheLoad: Less charitable [[AlternateCharacterInterpretation interpretations]] of Flavor Flav cast him as this.
* MalignedMixedMarriage: The 'maligned' part of this trope is heavily criticized in [[TitleTrack "Fear of a Black Planet."]]
** "Pollywannacracka" discusses this trope, and ends with the following verse:
-->''I try to tell my people\\
There should not be any hatred\\
For a brother or a sister\\
Whose opposite race they've mated\\
Cause no man is God\\
And God put us all here (yeah)\\
But this system has no wisdom\\
The devil split us in pairs''
* MurderBallad: "By The Time I Get To Arizona", arguably a SequelSong to "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos".
* NonAppearingTitle:
** "Sophisticated Bitch" (the closest it comes is "the bitch got a problem cuz she thinks she's so sophisticated").
** "Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic" (Flav goes "take 'em to the edge of panic" near the end)
** "Cold Lampin' With Flavor"
** "Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos"
** "Revolutionary Generation"
* PerformanceVideo
* PrecisionFStrike: The only vulgarities on ''Music/ItTakesANationOfMillionsToHoldUsBack'' are in "Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos", "Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic" and "Rebel Without A Pause" ("I see you [[BringMyBrownPants pissin' in your pants]], you're scared of dissin' us").
* ProtestSong: Almost their '''entire''' output.
* TheQuietOne: Terminator X was a man of few words, offering no vocal contributions on the albums (in fact, the final track on ''Yo Bum Rush The Show'' is called "Terminator X Speaks With His Hands") and not speaking much, if at all, during group interviews.
* QuestioningTitle: "How You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul?", "She Watch Channel Zero!?",...
* PunBasedTitle:
** "Night Of The Living Baseheads" is a pun on ''Film/NightOfTheLivingDead1968''.
** "Rebel Without A Pause" references ''Film/RebelWithoutACause''.
** "Revolverlution"
** "New Whirl Odor" is a pun on "New World Order".
* RapMetal: "Bring The Noize" (with Music/{{Anthrax}}), "She Watch Channel Zero!?" (sampling Music/{{Slayer}}'s "Angel of Death" from ''Music/ReignInBlood''), "Sophisticated Bitch" (guitar played by Music/LivingColour's Vernon Reid).
** Another version of "Bring the Noise" was later made, this time featuring [[Music/BlackLabelSociety Zakk Wylde]].
* RatedMForManly
* RepurposedPopSong: "Harder Than You Think" was used by the UK's Channel 4 to advertised their coverage of The UsefulNotes/ParalympicGames.
* {{Sampling}} + SampledUp
* ShoutOut: In the song "Bring The Noise", they name drop rap artists Eric B, Music/LLCoolJ, Music/RunDMC , as well as non rap artists Sonny Bono, Music/YokoOno, and Music/{{Anthrax}}.
** In "Burn Hollywood Burn", which is a TakeThat towards racist Hollywood movies, Big Daddy Kane is heard saying "Yo, I've got ''Film/BlackCaesar'' back at the crib", indicating that Creator/LarryCohen's independent film starring Fred Williamson (considered a classic of the {{Blaxploitation}} genre) is a more dignified portrayal of black characters, as it doesn't feature its black cast being denigrated to butlers, slaves or "jigaboos". The same song also proclaims "lets make our own movies like Creator/SpikeLee".
* StageNames
* STDImmunity: Averted in the brief but [[AnAesop Aesop]]-laced "Meet Tha G That Killed Me".
* StraightManAndWiseGuy: Chuck D and Flavor Flav, respectively.
* TakeThat:
** While they eventually softened on their view on Music/ElvisPresley in "Fight The Power," their stance on Creator/JohnWayne (rightfully) remains just as much "Up Yours" as ever.[[note]]"Elvis was a hero to most but he never meant shit to me / Straight up racist that sucker was simple and plain / Yeah! Motherfuck him and John Wayne!"[[/note]]
** "Amerikan Gangster" is a big one towards GangstaRap and GlamRap, done in the style of said genres.
** "Burn Hollywood Burn", towards racist portrayals of black characters in Hollywood cinema, particularly films that have blacks portrayed as servants/slaves or engaging in UncleTomfoolery. In particular, ''Film/DrivingMissDaisy'' is criticized as a "bullshit" movie.
** "Hitler Day". Nope, not aimed at Der Fuhrer himself, but UsefulNotes/ChristopherColumbus and his alleged atrocities. And they sum it up by saying that Columbus Day "is as crazy as Hitler Day".
** Any references in the ''It Takes A Nation'' album to "Honeydrippers" are aimed at the seminal funk band most famous for their "Impeach the President" single, [[JustForFun/IThoughtItMeant and not]] the Robert Plant side project from TheEighties.
* ThreeChordsAndTheTruth: Okay, okay, the correct term would be "Three thousand samples and the truth".
* TitleOnlyChorus: "Give It Up", "Fight The Power", "Can't Truss It"
* WorstAid: "911 Is A Joke"
* YouWatchTooMuchX: Replace "X" with "daytime TV", and you have the general gist of "She Watch Channel Zero?!"
''Fifty-three brothers on the run... and we are gone!''