In the third of a four-part segment about the label, Simmons explained the political impact of the group.
“Public Enemy changed everything about Black America,” he said. “Everything. They made Farrakhan popular. They helped make the Million Man March. They put red, black, and green shit around niggas’ necks instead of chains. They did everything. They were amazing.”
Detailing his early interactions with Chuck D, Rick Rubin recalled the rapper feeling like “he was too old” for a second-wind in music.
“I had a post-it note with his phone number on it next to my phone,” Rubin said. “So anytime I was at the phone I would see, ‘Chuck D. Call Chuck D.’ He said he was too old. He said he had a regular job. He’d put out a record as Spectrum City and LL was hot at the time and he felt like, ‘Now it’s a 16-year old kid, I don’t want to compete with that. I’m from a different time and I had my time.’ And he put out the Spectrum City record and it didn’t happen and he just sort of hung it up.
“DMC played us a song, but it was only like a minute-long version of the song ‘Public Enemy No. 1,’” he added. “That was his radio show theme. Eventually after badgering him, after months, finally, they came in and they said, ‘Okay, we’re ready to do this but it’s not Chuck D it’s Public Enemy: the Hip Hop version of The Clash. Here’s Professor Griff. Here’s Flava Flav. Here’s Hank, here’s the Bomb Squad. We’re gonna have the S1W’s.’ They had the whole thing planned out and I said, ‘Anything you wanna do. Fine. Anyway you wanna do it.’”
Simmons also addressed the group charting new territory and the backlash they received.
“Nothing the fuck else sounded like Public Enemy,” he said. “Nothing. And Rick recognized that. They were like in a way closest to the gangster group as much as they were to most conscious groups. He was tough and he had reason to be tough. He was rebellious and he had reason to be rebellious. But there were many people upset by certain things that came out of his mouth. And they should have been, because they liked the way shit was. Public Enemy didn’t like the way shit was.”
“When Public Enemy’s first album came out on the mixshows, Hip Hop only shows, they would only play the instrumental versions of Public Enemy records,” Rubin recalled. “They would not play the lyrics. They didn’t like his voice. They didn’t like what he had to say. It didn’t fit and they didn’t like that. They wanted it to be more…songs about rims. I always looked at is as counter culture. For me it was like a Black version of Punk Rock. It was bringing music back to the street.”