"Damn, back again / Uh, on track again," Chuck D grunts during the opening moments of Public Enemy's He Got Game, which also serves as the soundtrack to Spike Lee's movie of the same name. Surprisingly, after a long dry spell, the sentiment rings true most of the time: The sense of urgency and menace that characterized PE's best work is back, and the reformed Bomb Squad's sound has expanded in some interesting directions. Though the title track features an uncharacteristically obvious hook—lifted from Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth"—it's still one of the better songs to utilize that now-omnipresent style. It's also unlike most of the songs on the album: With both strings and snippets from the James Bond theme thrown into the mix, a surprising trip-hop/Wu-Tang influence runs throughout He Got Game. Aside from the dispensable, Flavor Flav-led funk number "Shake Your Booty," foreboding has taken the place of immediacy as the tone of choice throughout most of the record, and it's an approach to which the group is well suited. The album-opening "Resurrection," featuring an appearance by Masta Killa, is as gripping as the work of PE in its prime, and the combined skills of D and KRS-One make "Unstoppable" sound just that. While the album rarely reaches the heights of It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back or Fear Of A Black Planet, it proves that the group shouldn't be counted out yet. Of course, the resurrection of Public Enemy also means the return of the bundle of contradictions its members bring with them. Lyrical snippets such as "AIDS was created in the lab," as well as the return of the talentless, hateful Professor Griff (who's inexplicably given the final track) suggest that D and company, however politically concerned they might be, haven't learned to separate good information from bad. On the other hand, the sportswear-bashing "Politics Of The Sneaker Pimps"—with lines like, "I see corporate hands in foreign lands… I heard they made 'em for a buck-eight in Asia"—takes a harder stance than Nike shill Lee has ever adopted. And unlike Lee's grossly overrated film, this soundtrack will stand as a compelling work, flaws and all, a few years into the future.

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