If there ever was a time for new music from Public Enemy, this is it. The revolutionary hip-hop band returns revitalized on its streamlined but emphatic 13th record, speaking directly to the issues of a divided and bloodied America. Chuck D doesn't address Ferguson and Baltimore directly, recognizing they were part of bigger problems: "Don't believe a damn word I received/ gotta lotta nerve saying I should just leave/ like who gives a damn if they kill another man" ("No Sympathy From the Devil"). In terse language and memorable couplets ("So it's cool to be black/ until it's time to be black") he examines institutional racism, media manipulation, African-American identity, and a soulless culture ("earth without art is just, eh"). The disc clocks in at less than 30 minutes, but its short songs hit like a hatchet to the head. Producer Gary G-Wiz mixes vintage raucous PE funk ("Me to We") with nerve-jangling, angular sonics, bringing a less assaultive but still essential noise. (Out Friday)
ESSENTIAL "No Sympathy From the Devil"