Public Enemy has abruptly fired longtime member Flavor Flav following a public spat over the rap group’s plan to perform at a Bernie Sanders campaign event.
Public Enemy “will be moving forward without Flavor Flav,” the band said in a brief statement Sunday. “We thank him for his years of service and wish him well.”
The band parted ways with Flavor Flav after he and his lawyer had sent a cease-and-desist letter to Sen. Sanders in response to an announcement that Public Enemy co-founder Chuck D planned to perform under the group’s name at a rally for Sanders.
Flavor Flav and his lawyer argued that a Sunday concert and campaign rally in Los Angeles by Public Enemy Radio had used Flavor Flav’s “unauthorized likeness, image, and trademarked clock.”
“While Chuck is certainly free to express his political view as he sees fit — his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy,” the letter stated. “The planned performance will only be Chuck D of Public Enemy, it will not be a performance by Public Enemy. Those who truly know what Public Enemy stands for know what time it is, there is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav.
“Sanders has promised to ‘Fight the Power’ with hip hop icons Public Enemy — but this Rap Icon will not be performing at the Sanders Rally,” the letter continued. “To be clear Flav and, by extension, the Hall of Fame hip hop act Public Enemy with which his likeness and name have become synonymous has not endorsed any political candidate in this election cycle and any suggestion to the contrary is plainly untrue. The continued publicizing of this grossly misleading narrative is, at a minimum, careless and irresponsible if not intentionally misleading.”
In a statement, the group said Public Enemy Radio — a Chuck D-led offshoot featuring DJ Lord, Jahi and the S1Ws — would continue to perform and will release an album in April.
Flavor Flav and Chuck D were two founding members of Public Enemy in 1985. Flavor Flav was a member of the group for 37 years.
Chuck D addressed the issue in a statement to Pitchfork, saying, “Flavor chooses to dance for his money and not do benevolent work like this. He has a year to get his act together and get himself straight or he’s out.”
Chuck D’s lawyer added: “From a legal standpoint, Chuck could perform as Public Enemy if he ever wanted to; he is the sole owner of the Public Enemy trademark. He originally drew the logo himself in the mid-’80s, is also the creative visionary and the group’s primary songwriter, having written Flavor’s most memorable lines.”
Over the weekend, Chuck D wrote on Twitter that his dispute with Flavor Flav stretched deep into the past and “my last straw was long ago.”
“So I don’t attack FLAV on what he don’t know. I gotta leave him at the crib so y’all trying to fill his persona with some political aplomb is absolutely ‘stupid’ Obviously I understand his craziness after all this damn time. Duh you don’t know him from a box of cigars or me either,” Chuck D tweeted.
Chuck D alleged that Flavor Flav wouldn’t do the show because “he will NOT do free benefit shows.”
“Spoke @BernieSanders rally with @EnemyRadio. If there was a $bag, Flav would’ve been there front & center. He will NOT do free benefit shows. Sued me in court the 1st time I let him back in. His ambulance lawyer sued me again on Friday & so now he stays home & better find REHAB,” Chuck D added.
In 2017, Flavor Flav filed a lawsuit alleging unpaid royalties against Chuck D and Public Enemy’s production and management teams.
The 60-year-old rapper claimed in his suit that he had not received royalty payments for years on over 50 Public Enemy songs on which he has writing credits. Flavor Flav also complained that payments from ticket sales and merchandising have “diminished to almost nothing.”
He also alleged that Public Enemy’s 2017 album Nothing Is Quick in the Desert was released without his knowledge or consent.
Flavor Flav has not publicly acknowledged his dismissal from the group as of this writing.
—With files from The Associated Press
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