This was originally released by Public Enemy on their 1988 album It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. Chuck D, who is the leader of Public Enemy, isn't a fan of R&B ballads, but likes heavy metal, which left him open to a collaboration with Anthrax. Said Chuck: "Metal has attitude and it has speed, and that's two things that I like." He took some lessons from the marketing side of metal as well, telling Melody Maker: "Metal records give a lot more in terms of sleeve information and imagery. That's why metal groups stay tight with their audiences for so long. In rap, groups are treated like they're disposable, and so they become disposable. Heavy metal groups are involved in how their music is presented, packaged, marketed. They have control of the merchandising and their logos, whereas the vast majority of rap groups have no control at all."
Inspired by the Run-D.M.C./Aerosmith union on "Walk This Way
," Anthrax teamed up with Chuck D of Public Enemy on this for one of the first rap-rock collaborations. The groups toured together after it was released, which was an interesting move for Public Enemy, as they went after white headbangers to build their fan base. It proved that there was a natural crossover between hardcore rap and heavy metal, which share an aggression and sense of alienation from authority and tradition. The tour started in the United States in September 1991 and went to the UK in January 1992.
This song gave Anthrax a big boost, which led to a $10 million deal with Elektra Records.
Anthrax is one of the groups Public Enemy mentions in the original version of the song: "Wax is for Anthrax, still it can rock bells."
Anthrax's Scott Ian said that Public Enemy was his favorite band on the planet in the late 1980s. He explained: "They changed music. [Their 1987 LP] It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, I compare that album to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band or Guns 'N Roses' Appetite For Destruction or Led Zeppelin's IV. It you make a list of albums that changed the world, that changed the way we hear music, that album has to be on that list."
It was Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian's idea to cover Public Enemy's cut. He recalled to Mojo magazine January 2015: "We were finishing off the drum tracks for the Persistence of Time album when I told (drummer) Charlie Benante that I'd transposed the song. He heard it and said, 'This sounds f--king awesome!' so we cut a version and put it on a cassette."
"I sent it to Chuck to see whether he'd sing on it. He said he'd have top run it by Rick Rubin. He called me back, said that Rick thought it was a bad idea because Public Enemy had already recorded the track on (1988 album) It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, so it would be redundant. I just told Chuck to play the tape and when he eventually did, he loved it."
Chuck and Flavor Flav's vocals were taken from the master to Public Enemy's "Bring The Noise." Ian told Mojo: "(We) sat there without sampling technology and cut them into the track word by word until we made it work."
"It took forever," he added. "Our version was in a different key but in the end we were even more stoked with the result because it was so great. Doing it before sampling had exploded kinda meant we were ahead of our time."
In the video, Flavor Flav mans the drumkit in some quick shots. According to Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante, he's legit. "Flavor Flav is very good on drums," he told Songfacts
. "Every day on tour, I had a drum kit set up in the dressing room - a warm-up kit - and he would come in every day and just play."