A Bernie Sanders rally has brought one of rap’s longest partnerships to an end as Public Enemy fires Flavor Flav.
Public Enemy’s Chuck D claims that his former collaborator is only motivated by money and added that he “better find rehab.”
The legendary hip hop group Public Enemy emerged out of 1980’s New York, rising to fame with heavily political lyrics concerning racism and police brutality. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, and honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award just this year.
But as of late, two of the group’s founders, Chuck D and Flavor Flav, have been at odds. And it seems like a clash concerning a Bernie Sanders rally was the last straw.
On Sunday, Public Enemy publicly announced that they would be parting ways with Flavor Flav after 37 years.
“Public Enemy and Public Enemy Radio will be moving forward without Flavor Flav,” they said in a group statement. “We thank him for his years of service and wish him well.”
The drama started last week, when Bernie Sanders’ campaign announced that Public Enemy Radio, an offshoot of the original group, would be performing at a rally on Sunday in Los Angeles. Flavor Flav is not a part of Public Enemy Radio, which consists of Chuck D, DJ Lord, Jahi, and the S1Ws.
The promotional poster features a silhouette of Sanders holding up a mic under the headline, “Fight the Power,” which is also the title of Public Enemy’s 1988 hit.
Flavor Flav apparently didn’t take the poster too well. He sought lawyer advice and issued a cease-and-desist letter to the Sanders campaign.
In the letter, which was widely shared with the media, Flav’s lawyer Matthew Friedman accused the campaign of using Flav’s “unauthorized likeness, image and trademarked clock” to promote the rally, even though he had no connection to the rally and “has not endorsed any political candidate.”
“While Chuck is certainly free to express his political view as he sees fit–his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy,” the letter states.
“The planned performance will only be Chuck D of Public Enemy, it will not be a performance by Public Enemy. Those who truly know what Public Enemy stands for know what time it is. There is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav.”
Included at the bottom of the letter was a handwritten note from Flav himself: “Hey Bernie, don’t do this.”
Prior to Flav’s firing Chuck D had said, “Flavor chooses to dance for his money and not do benevolent work like this. He has a year to get his act together and get himself straight or he’s out.”
But it looks like this clash over the Sanders rally was the last straw, because Flav is out. And Chuck D clarified that the Sanders issue was not the only reason.
“My last straw was long ago,” Chuck D wrote on Twitter. “It’s not about BERNIE with Flav… he don’t know the difference between [former NFL running back] Barry Sanders or Bernie Sanders. He don’t know either.”
“FLAV refused to support @Sankofa after @harrybelafonte inducted us. He don’t do that.”
He is referencing a grassroots organization founded by Belafonte. It aims to “focus on issues of injustice that disproportionately affect the disenfranchised, the oppressed, and the underserved.”
Legal spats between Flavor Flav and the rest of the group have been going on for years now. Flav sued Chuck D and the group’s management in 2017, claiming unpaid profits.
A judge dismissed that suit against Chuck D and the management firm in early 2019. Flavor Flav has appealed the judgement.