Public Enemy made their name by protesting social injustice, but lately they have turned their attention to the actions of one of their own members. Last week, on behalf of the veteran hip-hop group, frontman Chuck D penned an apology to fans saying that he was “deeply bothered” by the portrayal of Flavor Flav in the VH1 reality show Strange Love, which chronicles the rapper’s romantic relationship with actress Brigitte Nielsen.
On the show, Flav’s financial dealings with his estranged children and their mothers are made public. (The rapper has six children with two former girlfriends). Last night’s episode featured Flav arguing with Nielsen — after she gives one of his baby’s mothers her hotel number. One of the rapper’s daughters was also shown wearing a T-shirt reading “Winning Against Deadbeat Dads.”
“Together, [Public Enemy] make music and are dedicated to spreading the good word around the planet,” Chuck D, who first protested the show in a January Web post, writes in the apology. “I would be lying if I said that the side of Flav shown on Strange Love doesn’t affect what I’ve wanted our collective to stand for because it does, and many have told us how deeply they are bothered by this.”
The rapper goes on to say that his bandmate has been a victim of what he calls “Flavploitation” by the show’s producers. “His character and private issues are being trashed in front of millions for the mere sake of profit and ratings,” Chuck D continues. “To showcase the troubling conflict between his kids and ex is uncalled for, and we can’t stand by it.” Several fans’ postings on Public Enemy’s official site have called for Flav to be kicked out of the group.
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According to Flav, no apology is needed, and the show is an accurate depiction of his complicated life. “What you see on the show definitely is Flav,” he tells Rolling Stone. “It’s just that you’re seeing certain sides of Flav that Flav didn’t want people to see.” He has no plans to exit Public Enemy. “Everywhere I go I get so much love from my fans,” he says.
Despite the disagreement, Public Enemy will continue to support Flav and count him as a member. “We cannot begin to agree with what the rest of us consider inappropriate behavior and unfair actions towards his family and to himself,” Chuck D adds in the group apology, “but Flav is our brother.”
“I wish Chuck would’ve come to me first before he went and alerted the [Web site],” Flav responds, “but I love my crew.”
And, despite what viewers see onscreen, Flav says he also loves his family. “Right now, I eat, sleep, and breathe my kids — all six of them,” he says. “I want Strange Love to be a mirror for them. I want them to see themselves, because they did disrespect me also. But that’s their mother. When children grow up without both parents, there’s an imbalance — and what you see on the show with my kids is an imbalance . . . But I love my kids.”