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Rebirth of a Nation

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Album Review

If the title of Rebirth of a Nation consciously recalls the title of Public Enemy's 1988 masterwork, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, that shouldn't be taken as indication that the music on Rebirth is a revival of the dense sound of Nation as masterminded by the Bomb Squad. Nevertheless, Rebirth is certainly a throwback to the sound of the golden age, when hardcore rap was not defined solely by the sonics or subjects of gangsta rap, and that's a deliberate move on PE's part — they want to re-create the sound of the time, but not the sound that was identified with them, and in order to do that they've entered into a full-fledged collaboration with Paris, who produced and wrote all of Rebirth of a Nation. This is the first time that Chuck D did not have a hand in writing either the music or the words on a Public Enemy album (he did write some verses on four songs on the record), which is initially disarming, since he's always been the sound and vision of PE. But he explains the project clearly in his liner notes, comparing the album to Muddy Waters' psychedelicized blues on Electric Mud — Muddy may have been reluctant to work in a rock setting, but it was an artistic challenge, and Chuck wanted Public Enemy to take the same kind of risk. Even if all PE fans may not be pleased with the results, Rebirth of a Nation isn't nearly as divisive as Electric Mud — Paris to Public Enemy isn't as big a stretch as Chicago blues to psychedelia, after all, and they have an audience more willing to go along with change, which this certainly is. But change is often welcome for artists, nowhere more so than for PE, whose last album, New Whirl Odor, was their first to feel truly tired, something that Rebirth can not be called. Not that it's especially daring sonically — Paris did construct this as a self-consciously old-school record, dropping in samples of old PE records and adhering to the sound of 1990 — but the group, particularly Chuck D, sounds engaged by the project, which at the very least makes for a listen that's more gripping than its immediate predecessor. And if the sound of the record is a throwback, Paris' subjects are nervy and politically charged, directly addressing the state of the world in a way few records do in 2006. All of this makes Rebirth of a Nation an admirable effort — perhaps the music gets a little monochromatic, but that's merely a byproduct of its narrowly targeted goals, and as a whole, it's an ambitious and successful artistic detour for PE. Besides, it's hard not to be impressed by a record that sounds like a blast from the past while playing like a news bulletin from today — not an easy trick to pull off, but Paris and Public Enemy manage it with Rebirth of a Nation.

Customer Reviews

Why PE fell under the radar in the 90's

It is my sincerest wish that Chuck reads this review and consider it. I am a die-hard PE fan and their place in the history of hip-hop is assured. While it is often stated that the reason PE "fell off" was because the public lost interest in conscious hip-hop, I submit that the reason had a lot to do with the less than stellar production we had come to expect from a Public Enemy CD starting with Apocalypse '91. Paris' production can't touch the works of the legendary Bomb Squad. I tried to give it a chance, but this stuff doesn't move me. The Bomb Squad is as much a part of PE as Chuck D. Chuck - bring back the top notch production - please! Stop messin' with us man! Power to the people and the beats.


A lot of young cats will claim to be a diehard PE fan. Some of these kids don't even have a clue. Has the public lost intrest? Look/listen to the stuff that is currently popular. Do poor folks really need to know how many grillz one has? It has always been about the messege with Public Enemy, don't miss it because it does not fit in with the current stream of mainstream fodder. I give Rebirth of A Nation five stars becuase of its whole scope of America's current situation. It is a point of view so many are afraid to even address. "Plastic Nation", "Invisible Man", and "Field N*gga Boogie" are standout tracks that really do need to be heard and, at least, disscused. It is a pretty tight assesment and alternative point of view on American life in the popular mainstream.

still holding it down

To compare this album with the earlier stuff that this two artirsts gave us back in the days, is like comparing apples with oranges. OF course PE needs the BOMB SQUAD in their corner to add the sonic punch( Due to sampling fees and clearances will be impossible nowdays to create tracks with more than 3 samples per song.) Chuck D still has the punch in his voice and Paris still got the anger in his lirycs. To have Dead Pres, Kam,PE and Paris all rapping in one track is priceless all that we need is KRS 1 and Rass Kass to make the track complete.


Formed: 1982 in Garden City, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Public Enemy rewrote the rules of hip-hop, becoming the most influential and controversial rap group of the late '80s and, for many, the definitive rap group of all time. Building from Run-D.M.C.'s street-oriented beats and Boogie Down Productions' proto-gangsta rhyming, Public Enemy pioneered a variation of hardcore rap that was musically and politically revolutionary. With his powerful, authoritative baritone, lead rapper Chuck D rhymed about all kinds of social problems, particularly those plaguing...
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