20 years past their prime, Public Enemy attempts to make a comeback with the group’s thirteenth album Man Plans, God Laughs. The album’s tracklist sounds as though it escaped from an 80’s vault and belongs on a lost tracks album, hosting an old school resemblance that would be more intriguing if it wasn’t so redundant. Man Plans, God Laughs begins with the eerie, synth heavy track “No Sympathy From The Devil”. The eccentric beat is more entertaining and much easier to follow than its random and confusing lyrics. There are a few tracks that have their positive moments but unnecessary breakdowns and random beat switch ups are too distracting for the songs to be enjoyed. The album titled track embodies this trend, resulting in an unpleasant listen due to repetitive, unexciting lyrics and an obscure beat.
Public Enemy has a history of political messages delivered through creatively bold music. While they haven’t lost their daring spirit, the rap group seems to have confused oddness with creativity. Public Enemy tries to mix two genres that are as compatible as water and oil in “Honky Talk Rules”. Chuck D’s deep, menacing voice talks over a mediocre country beat with female country vocals. The rap aspect is average, the country aspect is average and together they make an incredibly unimpressive combination.
Public Enemy’s rebellious charm is not nearly as effective as is it used to be. For new listeners, the choppy flows are off-putting, the messages are indecipherable and the tracks all sound like old guys rapping. The fundamental sounds of their grammy nominated 90s albums are more than apparent in an album made 25 years after the fact. Instead of instilling nostalgia, Man Plans, God laugh comes of as Public Enemy trying way too hard to sound like themselves. Unless you happen to be a die hard Public Enemy fan, you won’t get much out of Man Plans, God Laughs.