250 words #6 - Public Enemy's Shut 'Em Down

Nirvana? Oasis? The three greatest performances on The Word were Ivy Tilsley from Corrie, Huggy Bear's riotous, thrilling Her Jazz and Public Enemy's choatic Shut 'Em Down.

For their first live appearance on UK television, it couldn't have started more badly - after an introduction from Dani Behr, the sound system gave up almost immediately. Terminator X overloaded the PA, the monitors folded and Chuck D and Flavor Flav struggled to hear the beats. For one minute, the most furious rap act in the US offer little more than, "One two....one two", whilst Flavor Flav urges The Word to get itself together.

And then it does and the music surges forward. Chuck D gets to the rhythm of Shut 'Em Down, "I testified, my mama cried / Black people died while the other man lied" before he claims in the chorus that he'll, "Boom and pound while I shut 'em down!" As the sound system remains on the edge of breaking down, the words spiral around the studio for the next three minutes and Chuck D never lets up in his pounding of slave masters.

Never as enraged as Fight The Power, Shut 'Em Down is still terrifying - the equal of Welcome To The Terrordome - as Chuck D and Terminator X jostle for position amongst the distortion, audio bleed and noise. Badly rewritten for Apocalypse '91 but presented as it ought to be heard on Greatest Misses, that's an album worth buying for this track alone.

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