In an effort to understand the meaning to certain rap songs, I forwarded the lyrics to Public Enemy’s song “Bring the Noise” made in conjunction with Anthrax (the rock group, not the disease) to Prof. Pemberton B. Joyce at Hoople North Dakota University at Hoople. The following is his response to my request for him to interpret the meaning behind the lyrics.
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It was wonderful to hear from you. Sarah is doing fine as we are headed to Egypt in another week for some seminars. I have your lyrics here with my comments in italics. If necessary, I can do a further exhaustive analysis, but for now I have included my comments next to the original text.
Give my best to Carrie,
Bass! How low can you go? A reference to deep sea fishing for sea bass
Death row what a brother knows A possible reference to “The Brothers Karamazov”
Once again, back is the incredible,
The rhyme animal,
The incredible D. Public Enemy number one Obviously referring to Dillenger, whose poetry was respectable.
Five-O said "Freeze!" and I got numb A reference to the abnormally cold season in Hawaii 1972.
Can't I tell 'em that I really never had a gun? A commentary on public records keeping gun licenses
But it's the wax that the Terminator X spun Quite possibly a reference to rare insect related to the bee
Now they got me in a cell 'cause my records they sell Note the author’s disdain for office cubicles!
'Cause a brother like me said "Well, Farrakhan's a prophet and I think you ought to listen to Most likely meant “Farakanuh”
What he can say to you, what you ought to do" Farakanuh was a Saracen prophet in 3200BC
Follow for now, power to the people say, Farakanuh spoke against the reign of Kadesh-Bullah
Make a miracle. D, pump the lyrical The author really sees a connection with Dillenger’s writings
Black is back, all in, we're gonna win Referring to the amazing comeback of the Tillans-Todd 1965 chess match
Check it out, yeah y'all, c’mon, here we go again
Chorus: Turn it up! Bring the noise! Turning up the volume can help determine the “noise” still being allowed from a misadjusted frequency. Once the noise is identified, it can be eliminated and the volume can be readjusted to a more comfortable level. Obviously, the author is very careful to make sure his reception is clear.
Never badder than bad 'cause the brother is madder than mad Referring to the Roman Emperor Caligula
At the fact that's corrupt as a senator Even after the murder of Caligula, Rome still had problems in the Senate
Soul on a roll, but you treat it like soap on a rope Author’s comment on a soul being free whether clean or not
'Cause the beats in the lines are so dope Referring to the large drug bust on seven Iowa farms in 1975
Listen for lessons I'm saying inside music that the critics are blasting me for The author is stressing the point to listen to these messages
They'll never care for the brothers and sisters now across the country has us up for the war The critics, he claims, show no support for our troops.
We got to demonstrate, come on now, they're gonna have to wait till we get it right The author’s eagerness to perform is tempered by his strive for perfection.
Radio Stations I question their blackness Many pirate radio stations were “blacked-out” by the FCC in the 50’s
They call themselves black, but we'll see if they play this there is strong evidence that some still exist and the author is “calling them out.”
Get from in front of me, the crowd runs to me Referring to working the day after Christmas at a “Returns” line.
My deejay is warm, he's X, I call him Norm, ya know Norm expired, but not too long ago to still be “warm”
He can cut a record from side to side Norm was talented for holding a lawn mowing record
So what, the ride, the glide should be much safer than a suicide Norm apparently committed suicide
Soul control, beat is the father of your rock'n'roll Chuck Barry (father of Rock n’ roll) is named as a cult leader
Music for whatcha, for whichin', you call a band, man
Makin' a music, abuse it, but you can't do it, ya know Chuck Barry should leave well enough alone
You call 'em demos, but we ride limos, too Luxury features are available in more cars than the companies let on
Whatcha gonna do? Rap is not afraid of you A veiled threat
Beat is for Sonny Bono, beat is for Yoko Ono The author is against vegetarianism
Run DMC first said a deejay could be a band Douglas Macarthur made no such claim; there is no need to run
Stand on its feet, get you out your seat The author is directing people to the nearest exit
Beat is for Eric B, and L.L. as well, hell The author wishes a very bad eternity for these two unidentified people
Wax is for Anthrax, still it can rock bells The author claims that wax can treat cattle diseases very effectively
Ever forever, universal, it will sell The author is planning to distribute it with success
Time for me to exit, Terminator X-it
From coast to coast, so you stop being like a comatose No one likes the effect of jetlag, our author agrees
Stand, my man? The beat's the same with a boast dose Boltace is a strong drug to fight against jetlag
Rock with some pizzazz, it will last why you ask? Referring to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra using guitars
Roll with the rock stars, still never get accepted as There still exists a great line between Rock and Country
We got to plead the fifth, we can investigate A controversial judicial tactic to buy time
Don't need to wait, get the record straight The author is very passionate about justice
Hey, posse's in effect, got the Flavor Terminator A promotional Slurpee flavor when Terminator 2 came out
X to sign checks, play to get paid A commentary on the number of illiterate football players
We got to check it out down on the avenue Referring to wanting to research this more at the library downtown
A magazine or two is dissing me and dissing you Apparently many of the library’s periodicals skirt the issue
Yeah, I'm telling you