Last night, after the iconic hip hop band, Public Enemy performed at a Bernie Sanders rally in Los Angeles, CA, without their lead hype man, Flavor Flav, the 78-year-old, white, Socialist could be seen behind stage trying to be relatable to the black band members.
Sanders, who moves like a man 20 years older than he, hunched over and carefully placed a colorful boom box on his shoulder. The cranky old Socialist can be seen turning to Public Enemy hip hop member Chuck D, to ask for reassurance that he was assuming the proper stance, “Walking around the hood like this?” he asked.
And here’s Bernie backstage and kickin it with Public Enemy! Watch as Bernie holds up a Boombox and talks about “Walkin around the HOOD with this!” 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/nlZ4H3dFTF
— Shawnasaurus Rex (@ShawnG927) March 2, 2020
The decision by Chuck D of Public Enemy to perform for Sanders last night did not come without a heavy price. After 30 years of working together, the hip-hop group confirmed it would be “moving forward without Flavor Flav” after the longtime hypeman slammed Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and former bandmate Chuck D, claiming that the campaign is using his old group’s name for an endorsement he didn’t sign off on.
Billboard published the scathing letter to the Sanders campaign, lawyers for Flavor Flav made it clear how they felt about Sanders misleading his followers into believing he had the full support of the group.
On Friday, Feb. 28, Flavor Flave released the following statement to Billboard blasting the Sanders campaign.
We have been retained to represent the interests of William Drayton p.k.a. Flavor Flav concering recent false reporting of Public Enemy’s endorsement of the Bernie Sanders campaign as well as the unauthorized use of his likeness, image and trademarked clock in promotional materials circulated by the campaign and its network of online operatives in support of Bernie’s upcoming rally.
We have become aware that Flavor’s bandmate and Public Enemy co-creator, Chuck D, has endorsed Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for President and plans to perform at an upcoming Sanders Rally. While Chuck is certainly free to express his political views as he sees fit – his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy. 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.
It appears the Sanders campaign has been content to sit back and allow the media to promote a false narrative to the American people. Sanders has promised to “Fight the Power” with hip hop icons Public Enemy – but this Rap Icon will not be performing at the Sanders Rally. To be clear Flav and, by extension, the Hall of Fame hip hop act Public Enemy with which is likeness and name have become synonymous has not endorsed any political candidate in this election cycle and any suggestion to the contrary is plainly untrue. The continued publicizing of this grossly misleading narrative is, at a minimum, careless and irresponsible if not intentionally misleading.
Flav is reaching out, not in the spirit of division, but for the sake of unity in the hope of preserving the integrity of the Public Enemy Movement and the faith and trust his millions of fans around the world have placed in him. Over more than 30 years in the public spotlight – whether on television or radio – Flav has always delivered his authentic self. That authenticity compels him to speak out to ensure voters are not misled and that Public Enemy’s music does not become the soundtrack of a fake revolution.
This is hardly the first time the establishment has tried to define Flav and Public Enemy. They claimed he and his bandmates were drug dealing gang members – they weren’t. They were artists using their music and platform to fight injustice, advocate for their community and strive for truth and transparency against an establishment which wanted to keep people in the dark. With songs like 911 is a Joke; Fight The Power; Harder Than You Think; and Don’t Believe The Hype Flavor Flav and Public Enemy didn’t just talk about revolution – they started one that brought about real lasting systemic change. The Public Enemy Movement cannot allow its cultural identity, likeness and life’s work to be misappropriated by political operatives in support of a fictional revolution – Don’t Believe The Hype!
It is unfortunate that a political campaign would be so careless with the artistic integrity of such iconoclastic figures in American culture. Sanders claims to represent everyman not the man yet his grossly irresponsible handling of Chuck’s endorsement threatens to divide Public Enemy and, in so doing, forever silence one of our nation’s loudest and most enduring voices for social change. Perhaps Sanders didn’t intend to sow these irreconcilable differences but, by and through his disregard for the truth, he has nonetheless. If Bernie allows this deceptive marketing to continue without clearly correcting the messaging to reflect the true nature of this endorsement which should accurately read: “Chuck D of Public Enemy” – Senator Sanders will himself have played a part in whitewashing a key chapter in American History.
Bernie, his name is Flavor Flav and he does NOT approve your message!
The statement noted that Public Enemy Radio, made up of Chuck D, DJ Lord, Jahi and the S1Ws would perform as planned at a Sanders rally Sunday evening in Los Angeles, featuring celebrity appearances by “Sarah Silverman and Dick Van Dyke with a special performance by Public Enemy Radio.”
In a statement sent Sunday to USA TODAY by Friedman, Flavor Flav added: “Chuck and I were blessed to build something that wasn’t a dictatorship it was a movement based on the way we lived in our neighborhood and what we faced in our community.”
He continued: “We faced poverty and violence and we were ignored by our government and the media – all we were left with was family. I don’t want our family and our movement broken up. … I hope that Public Enemy can get back to doing the good works we have done for 30 years … not for money but for people like me who have been denied their rights to participate because of (expletive) policies.”
Flavor Flav criticized Sanders for showing a “disregard for the truth” and asked that the campaign cease promoting Chuck D’s endorsement as one from the entire group.
“It is unfortunate that a political campaign would be so careless with the artistic integrity of such iconoclastic figures in American culture,” Friedman’s letter added. “Sanders claims to represent ‘everyman’ not ‘the man’ yet his grossly irresponsible handling of Chuck’s endorsement threatens to divide Public Enemy and, in doing so, forever silences one of our nation’s loudest and most enduring voices for social change.”
The letter concluded: “Bernie, his name is Flavor Flav and he does NOT approve your message!”