Finding The GOAT Group: Public Enemy vs. Stetsasonic. Who Is Better?
“Finding the GOAT Group,” the fourth installment of Ambrosia For Heads’s annual battle series features Hip-Hop’s greatest collectives vying for the #1 spot. Sixty-two groups have been pre-selected by a panel of experts, and one slot will be reserved for a wild-card entry, including the possibility for write-in candidates, to ensure no deserving band of MCs and DJs is neglected. The 2018 contest consists of seven rounds, NCAA basketball-tournament style, leading to a Top 32, then the Sweet 16 and so on, until one winner is determined. For each battle, two groups are pitted against one another with a ballot to decide which one advances to the next round. Though there will be an enormous amount of debate in comments, on social media, in barbershops and text messages, which we encourage, only votes cast in the official ballot or those using the official hashtags on social media count.
The next two contenders to battle each other are two influential posses and top live performers. Public Enemy and Stetsasonic laid the groundwork to invoke Hip-Hop’s political consciousness while innovating its sound with the art of sampling. With your vote, just one group can advance to Round 2.
When Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Public Enemy formed in the mid-1980s, their mission was to disrupt the status quo of not just the Rap industry, but all of Pop culture. During the Long Island, New York collective’s formative years, the Black community was being ripped apart by rampant drug abuse, political disenfranchisement, and lulled by the apparent whitewashing of mainstream media. True to their name and logo, P.E. stood out as targets for combating these forces with truths—about oppression, inequality, and a media agenda. Chuck D stood as the front-man and the booming voice of power. Flavor Flav played hype-man and a jester in the commanding court. Meanwhile, martial arts expert Professor Griff led the group’s military aesthetic including S1W soldiers. DJ Terminator X’s scratches matched the energy of the delivery in this high-powered demonstration. P.E. debuted with an iconic hat trick of three LPs: Yo! Bum Rush The Show, It Takes A Nation Millions To Hold Us Back, and Fear Of A Black Planet. The groundbreaking sampling techniques of their in-house production crew The Bomb Squad on songs such as “Don’t Believe The Hype,” “Fight The Power” and “Welcome To The Terrordome” pushed the boundaries for Rap music. In more than 30 years, P.E. has never slowed its roll or ceased operations. On the road and in the studio, the group with more than 14 albums continues to deliver a message to the masses.
For every Hip-Hop group whose stage show and sound is reliant on live instrumentation, it is fair to say that Stetsasonic wrote much of their rule book. When this Brooklyn, New York-based six-member crew formed in 1981, they were ahead of the curve by employing a drummer, keyboardist, beat-boxer, and DJ. Frukwan, Daddy-O, DBC, Bobby Simmons, Wise, MC Delite, and Long Island-born Prince Paul worked in harmony. Led by Daddy-O, Stet’ MCs used their voices to be more didactic with their political opinions and educational diatribes, accompanied by progressive rhythms and melodies on songs such as “Sally,” “A.F.R.I.C.A” which sampled a speech from Reverend Jesse Jackson, and the Jazz-Rap sampling commentary of “Talkin All That Jazz.” They also infused Funk and humor in video singles like “Speaking Of A Girl Named Susie.” The group only released three albums in five years (On Fire, In Full Gear, and Blood, Sweat, and No Tears) before splintering. Paul and ‘Kwan would spill into Gravediggaz, while others pursued solo interests after ’91. However, Stet’ (who still performs together on occasion) leaves an indelible mark on the genre, having etched their place in Rap history for any artists such as The Roots who followed in their footsteps.
So who is the better Hip-Hop group? Make sure you vote above.