Chuck D’s voice has been compared to many things over the years. While his vocal technique has evolved into something of a preacher’s cadence, it was more comparable to a foghorn or an air raid siren during Public Enemy’s salad days in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. It’s safe to say that Chuck’s early beginnings as a radio personality contributed to his vocal elasticity. “Bring The Noise” is the first song that finds the former Carlton Ridenhour (yep) using the Chuck D voice.
BASS! HOW LOW CAN YOU GO? DEATH ROW? WHAT A BROTHA KNOW.
Yeah, that voice.
“Bring The Noise” isn’t one of Public Enemy’s more political songs, but it booms just as much as “Brothers Gonna Work It Out” or “Burn Hollywood Burn”, to name two more explicitly political songs that come before “Bring The Noise” in the alphabet but didn’t get the 5-star treatment.
“Bring The Noise” was also one of the first songs to feature The Bomb Squad (P.E.’s production squad, including Chuck. They later branched out into production for LL Cool J, Slick Rick, Ice Cube, Bell Biv DeVoe and others) in full fruition. P.E.’s first album, Yo! Bumrush The Show, is solid but the production is a bit more traditional hip-hop (with respect to the era) and Chuck’s rhyming is less impassioned–he has his MC voice but he doesn’t have his MLK voice yet. “Bring The Noise”, which was a bridge single between Bumrush and the classic It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, sounds like noise. On top of more noise. It’s dizzying.
Three years later, Public Enemy cut a version of “Bring The Noise” with New York metal legends Anthrax and slightly modified spelling. It’s arguably more energetic than the original, and Chuck D.’s voice works just as well on top of power chords as it did with The Bomb Squad’s frenetic mix of cuts and samples. What could’ve just been a weird peanut butter in my chocolate experiment wound up being a seamless merger of two genres that would seem pretty disparate to the naked eye.