Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Though it's taken too long, Public Enemy finally has some ideological competition. After ruling serious rap for five years, their Afrocentric smarts have been challenged--respectfully, of course--by Arrested Development, whose "Revolution" is to Malcolm X as "Fight the Power" was to Do the Right Thing; the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, who not only attacked homophobia but made a single out of it, and now Philadelphia's Goats.

Like the Disposable Heroes, the Goats are pointedly interracial, but they're far more street, brandishing cop tales that have a first-hand ring. They're definitely not gangstas, though. In fact, they're as straight-up leftist as any up-and-coming act on either side of the all too distinct line between rap and rock. Some may find Tricks of the Shade (Ruffhouse/Columbia) doctrinaire--I think "fascist" is too evil a name to waste on Bill Clinton myself. But I also think that antiabortionists are antilife and economics is the root of most evil, and find it reassuring to hear smart kids rap those truisms down.

Especially since the music of this true hip hop band says something as well. Augmenting the three rappers are live guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and turntables, with the rock-simple strength of the bass and guitar parts exploiting a sonic potential rap has too often ignored. Lots of rappers want to keep genre lines sharply drawn, but that never works. The Goats have the right idea in more ways than one.

Fast Cuts: Neneh Cherry, Homebrew (Virgin): Proof that the line between rap and pop isn't all that distinct either. Hoosier Hot Shots: Rural Rhythm 1935-1942 (Columbia): If you can admit to yourself that you want to hear four novelty-mad stooges from before you were born sing I Like Bananas (Because They Have No Bones), then you won't be sorry.

Playboy, Dec. 1992

Nov. 1992 Jan. 1993