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The most critically acclaimed rap outfit in history is chronicled deferentially in this entertaining but frustratingly sloppy biography by Village Voice arts editor Myrie. The lives of Public Enemy's yin and yang superstars, the solemn lyricist Chuck D and the outrageous hypeman Flava Flav, along with their outsize coterie of producers, DJs, security forces and one "media assassin," are recounted anecdotally, often in the participants' own voices. The group's evolution from a collection of radio and party DJs called Spectrum City at Adelphi University in Long Island to a politically charged monster packing the streets of Brooklyn to film the video for "Fight the Power" was the result of a remarkable confluence of talent, discipline and luck. The characters come to life in small, insightful moments: Chuck D riding on Greyhound buses around the country by himself at the height of the group's fame, the Bomb Squad collaborating with Ice Cube in an East Coast-West Coast dream team. Myrie is defensive on controversial flash points of the group's history, particularly Professor's Griff's alleged anti-Semitic comments to a reporter. However, Flav's struggles with drugs and subsequent re-emergence as a reality TV Frankenstein come to life through his inimitable voice, making one wish for a well-curated oral history rather than Myrie's cluttered approach. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.