Public Enemy Fire Flavor Flav After Fight Over Bernie Sanders Rally | Revolver

Public Enemy Fire Flavor Flav After Fight Over Bernie Sanders Rally

Hypeman ousted after more than 35 years
public enemy GETTY, Paul Natkin/WireImage
photograph by Paul Natkin/WireImage

Pioneering hip-hop firebrands Public Enemy have announced they've split ways with famed hypeman Flavor Flav after more than three decades. "Public Enemy and Public Enemy Radio will be moving forward without Flavor Flav," the politically charged rap OGs revealed in a statement released Sunday. "We thank him for his years of service and wish him well."

Though Public Enemy's Chuck D has said that it was just one contributing factor, Flavor Flav's firing came shortly after the rapper sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Bernie Sanders campaign over Chuck D's concert at a Sanders rally in L.A. The letter claimed that the campaign was using Flav's "unauthorized likeness, image and trademarked clock" to promote the rally, even though the hypeman "has not endorsed any political candidate."

"While Chuck is certainly free to express his political view as he sees fit — his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy," the cease-and-desist letter read. "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."

The rapper's lawyer Matthew Friedman continued in the letter: "Flav … has not endorsed any political candidate in this election cycle. … The continued publicizing of this grossly misleading narrative is, at a minimum, careless and irresponsible if not intentionally misleading. It is unfortunate that a political campaign would be so careless with the artistic integrity of such iconoclastic figures in American culture." Flav added a handwritten note at the bottom of the letter: "Hey Bernie, don't do this."

A lawyer for Chuck D commented on Flavor Flav's firing: "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."

Chuck D — who up until recently was performing in the rap-metal outfit Prophets of Rage with three-fourths of Rage Against the Machine — took to Twitter Sunday to clarify that the Sanders issue was not the sole reason for Flav's ouster. "My last straw was long ago," he wrote. "It's not about BERNIE with Flav… he don't know the difference between [former NFL running back] Barry Sanders or Bernie Sanders. He don't know either."