Chuck D’s announcement that Public Enemy would permanently cut ties with Flavor Flav has split hip-hop fans in two. For those fans like Aaron Busby and Federico Chispas, the thought of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted duo seemingly “beefing” over a performance at a Bernie Sanders’ rally is a sign that it was done “over a white man.” For other loyalists such as @JbbrWcky1 and @2PacAndChips, past incidents such as Flav’s 2012 arrest on assault and battery charges, and his comments regarding Donald Trump, were moments that hinted at earlier tensions between him and Chuck D.
No matter what side of the fence you fall on, the contentious back-and-forth regarding this recent issue began over a Public Enemy Radio performance scheduled for a Bernie Sanders (March 1) rally in Los Angeles. It immediately went nuclear with Flav via his lawyer, sending a cease-and-desist letter late Friday (Feb. 28) to Sanders’ campaign objecting to the way that Public Enemy was promoting the rally. The end result was Public Enemy “moving forward without Flavor Flav,” written in a letter directly from the 35-year-old group.
Despite that memo, Flav continued his tirade on Monday (March 2), insisting that he has yet to endorse a 2020 candidate and let his Twitter fingers loose upon timelines everywhere. “@MrChuckD are you kidding me right???,,,over Bernie Sanders??? You wanna destroy something we’ve built over 35 years OVER POLITICS???,,,all because I don’t wanna endorse a candidate,” Flav tweeted to his 93K followers. “I’m very disappointed in you and your decisions right now Chuck.” In a move to stave off the misleading press from following Flav’s rhetoric, the group released another letter, signed by Chuck D, DJ Lord, and S1W’s James Bomb and Pop Diesel, outlining the reasons why they finally cut ties with one of hip-hop’s most bombastic hypemen.
Read the message below:
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In a group statement Monday, these longtime members said Flav’s political views had nothing to do with his dismissal. The internal discord has been around for a while, as others noted on their respective social channels. “I saw Flav in 2009,” @MichaelSmartGuy wrote on Twitter. “At one point in the show Flavor Flav started promoting his show ‘Flavor of Love’ and Chuck D just walked off stage.” @CopWatchSTL wrote, “I was in Ferguson when Flavor Flav showed up for his photo op. The second the militarized police started abusing protesters, he and his fur coat ran away into the night quick fast and in a hurry never to be seen again. He is the fake revolution.”
For Public Enemy and Public Enemy Radio, they cite the 2016 incident at Harry Belafonte’s ‘Many Rivers to Cross’ Music & Justice Festival as when the rift turned into a full-blown suspension. “He was MIA from the Harry Belafonte benefit in Atlanta, Georgia. That was the last straw for the group. He had previously missed numerous live gigs from Glastonbury to Canada, album recording sessions and photo shoots. He always chose to party over work,” they wrote.
That same year at SXSW, Chuck D and Flavor Flav took the stage together, with Chuck slamming then-presidential hopeful Donald Trump in a politically-charged statement. “Black Lives Matter! F*** Donald Trump!” When Billboard spoke with Flav following the fiery performance, the former VH1 reality star didn’t back up what his partner for almost four decades had to say. “There’s a lot of people talking a lot of s*** about Trump, but guess what? He’s winning,” Flav said. “The man is winning.” With Public Enemy having performed numerous shows since then without Flav, the latter noted that he hadn’t sued anyone on Friday, just sent the cease-and-desist letter, asking the Sanders campaign to fix “misleading marketing.”
“I’m not your employee,,,i’m your partner,,,you can’t fire me,,,there is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav,” he tweeted.
Two days after that letter from Flav and his attorney was sent, Chuck D swiftly cut ties with his former rap cohort of 35 years. “If there was a $bag, Flav would’ve been there front & center,” Chuck D wrote on Twitter. “He will NOT do free benefit shows. Sued me in court the 1st time I let him back in.”
If anything, the takeaway from this whole debacle—politics aside—is that lingering issues with professional consistency and battles with addiction have taken its toll on one of the greatest rap groups of all time.