15 Rock & Roll Rebels

For these 15 revolutionaries, the only place to be was on the outside looking in.

Public Enemy

Flava Flav and Chuck D of Public Enemy pose in Hyde Park, London on November 2nd, 1987.
David Corio/Redferns

The stentorian voice of Chuck D and the sonic mayhem of his bandmates earned Public Enemy just the reaction they were aiming for: as they approached, polite society crossed the street to avoid them. Their landmark song "Fight the Power" was a key to Spike Lee's feature-film breakthrough, Do the Right Thing, and it confirmed Public Enemy's complete disdain for mainstream American culture, dismissing the iconic heroes Elvis Presley and John Wayne in a single swipe. The first single from their 1988 album 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back' was "Rebel Without a Pause," which, to Chuck D, epitomized the kind of musical riot the band hoped to incite: "I could die tomorrow," he said when he heard Hank Shocklee's wild final mix. Harnessing his unpredictable sidekick, Flavor Fav, has made Chuck's role feel like the band's "camp counselor" over the years, as he said at the band's recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.

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