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Public Enemy fired Flavor Flav, but not because of their Bernie Sanders spat

Chuck D, Flavor Flav
Chuck D, left, performs with Flavor Flav at the Hollywood Bowl in 2014.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Public Enemy has apparently run into irreconcilable differences — but they’re not over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The group relieved Flavor Flav of his duties Sunday, after he sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Sanders campaign on Friday, asking that the presidential candidate clarify that Public Enemy wasn’t playing at a Sanders rally and a recent endorsement by Chuck D was from the rapper alone, not from Public Enemy as a group.

“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,” said the letter from Flav’s attorney.

When Chuck D performed for thousands of Bernie Sanders supporters at L.A.'s Convention Center, he joined artists from Neil Young to the Strokes in working to elect Sanders president.
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“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 letter noted that Chuck D was free to have a political voice but said that the rapper’s voice alone was not the voice of Public Enemy.

Public Enemy and Public Enemy Radio, an offshoot led by Chuck D and featuring DJ Lord, Jahi and the S1Ws, concisely announced that they would be “moving forward without Flavor Flav” in a statement Sunday to Rolling Stone.

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In a group statement Monday, Chuck D, DJ Lord, Jahi, James Bomb and Pop Diesel said Flav’s political views had nothing to do with his dismissal.

“Flavor Flav has been on suspension since 2016 when he was MIA from the Harry Belafonte benefit in Atlanta, Georgia. That was the last straw for the group. He had previously missed numerous live gigs from Glastonbury to Canada, album recording sessions and photo shoots. He always chose to party over work,” they said.

They noted that Public Enemy Radio had performed numerous shows since then without Flav.

“While Public Enemy Radio was moving forward, Flavor Flav was starring on the reality show ‘Growing Up Hip-Hop New York,’ where an episode featured his children discussing an intervention and putting him in rehab. It’s time to move on and everyone wishes Flavor well.”

But the war of words between Chuck and Flav was still out there on social media.

500271_Bernie-Sanders-rally-rapper-Chuck-D_1041.jpg
Rapper Chuck D performs with Public Enemy Radio during a Bernie Sanders rally at the Los Angeles Convention Center Sunday.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

“my last straw was long ago,” Chuck D tweeted Sunday morning, when Public Enemy Radio was set to play at a Los Angeles Convention Center rally for Sanders later in the day. “It’s not about BERNIE with Flav... he don’t know the difference between BarrySanders or BernieSanders he don’t know either.”

On Sunday night, he accused his onetime hype man of having sued him Friday.

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“If there was a $bag, Flav would’ve been there front & center,” Chuck D tweeted. “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.”

Flav on Monday felt a need to clarify the situation, tweeting at Chuck D, “are you kidding me right now???,,,over Bernie Sanders??? You wanna destroy something we’ve built over 35 years OVER POLITICS???,,,all because I don’t wanna endorse a candidate,,,I’m very disappointed in you and your decisions right now Chuck.”

He noted that he hadn’t sued anyone on Friday, just sent the cease-and-desist asking the Sanders campaign to fix “misleading marketing.”

“I’m not your employee,,,i’m your partner,,,you can’t fire me,,,there is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav,” he tweeted.


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