For years, Louis Farrakhan and his followers have been claiming that African Americans are divided against each other because of ‘the Jews’. And now Bernie Sanders has broken up Chuck D and Flavor Flav.
Mr Flav, for those who went to older schools than the old skool, is a ‘hypeman’ for the musical entertainment group Public Enemy. In the mid-Eighties, Public Enemy caused some considerable stir among young pop-pickers with their appealing combination of stolen samples, Nation of Islam militarism and highly lucrative calls to black revolt. Mr Flav’s ebullient performances were especially entertaining, for it was his wont to wear a giant hat, outsize sunglasses, and a giant clock around his neck, while shouting signature phrases such as ‘Yeah, boyeeeee!’, ‘Flavor Flav!’ and ‘What time is it?’, this last a somewhat confusing question coming from a man wearing a clock bigger than his head.
Mr D finding himself in need of a new hype person, his attention has alighted on the veteran Brooklyn rapper Bernie ‘BS’ $anders. $anders is legendary for his leftfield delivery and his performances at parties – the Democratic Socialists of America, the Communist Party of America, the People’s Liberation Front of Vermont (Trotskyite section). His trademark move is to gabble a mile-a-minute on the mike — mostly inspired nonsense — while throwing his arms wide and gesticulating in classic rap fashion. $anders made his debut on Sunday in Los Angeles with Mr D and fellow radical entertainer Dick van Dyke.
Mr D and Mr Flav go back far in the day. It is believed that when Rick Rubin want to sign Public Enemy, he didn’t see the point in Mr Flav’s comic routines and offered a recording contract only to Mr D. Mr D insisting that Mr Flav was integral to Public Enemy’s high intellectual purpose, Mr Rubin relented. Mr D owes Mr Flav.
After touring the world with Mr D’s ensemble, Mr Flav found further fame on reality television with Flavor of Love. Ventures into the restaurant business — Flav’s Fried Chicken, then Flavor Flav’s House of Flavor, and then Flavor Flav’s Chicken and Ribs — all failed to take wing. Mr Flav did, however, succeed in getting himself charged with attempted murder for shooting at a neighbor, domestic violence and possession of cocaine, and further charges for domestic violence and possession, not forgetting a 2011 charge for unpaid parking citations.
Mr Flav left Public Enemy in 2009 in order to concentrate on his crack habit. He subsequently rejoined the group, which continues to entertain on the cabaret circuit. Mr Flav insists he has been ‘clean for 10 years’. Mr D’s tweets on this matter suggest differently, for he has advised Mr Flav to ‘get back to rehab’. Last Friday, Mr Flav’s lawyers issued $anders with a cease and desist letter, leading Mr D to fire Mr Flav from the group they co-founded. $anders has not addressed their split directly, but he has cited Engels’s letter to Marx of July 18, 1852, written after the Communists found they had doubled-booked a meeting room above a pub with the London Socialist League.
What time is it? Time for Bernie $anders to demonstrate his profound cynicism. Though he only recently discovered he was a Democrat, he shares the party leadership’s assumption that all he has to do to win black votes is have Chuck D on the bill, even if Bernie is the Dick van Dyke of Democratic candidates. And it’s time yet again for $anders to build up his credibility by cozying up to the Farrakhan fans. Chuck D called Farrakhan a ‘prophet’ in the Eighties, and has never stopped praising him. ‘Zionists use religious terms to distort & cover sht’, Mr D tweeted thoughtfully in 2012.
Fortunately, Flavor Flav has demonstrated typical clarity of purpose and insight. $anders, Flav says, ‘claims to represent everyman, not the man’, but his ‘grossly irresponsible handling of Chuck’s endorsement’ has broken up their group and cast him into the perilous gig economy of reality television and restaurant franchising. While Chuck D offers a half-endorsement of $anders, Flav has ‘not endorsed any political candidate’. Given the shambles of the Democratic nomination process, you can see why.
Dominic Green is Life & Arts editor of Spectator USA.