Flavor Flav, Public Enemy part ways after Bernie Sanders rally dispute

Flavor Flav criticized Sanders for showing a “disregard for the truth” and asked that the campaign cease promoting Chuck D’s endorsement as one from the entire group.

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Flavor Flav attends Republic Records Grammy After Party at 1 Hotel West Hollywood on January 26, 2020 in West Hollywood, California.

Flavor Flav attends Republic Records Grammy After Party in January in West Hollywood, California.

Getty Images for Republic Record

Public Enemy is through with Flavor Flav.

The hip-hop group confirmed it would be “moving forward without Flavor Flav” after the longtime hypeman slammed Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and former bandmate Chuck D, claiming that the campaign is using his old group’s name for an endorsement he didn’t sign off on

“Public Enemy and Public Enemy Radio will be moving forward without Flavor Flav,” the group said in a statement Sunday, provided to USA TODAY by Jolyn Matsumuro, a spokewoman for Chuck D and Public Enemy. “We thank him for his years of service and wish him well.”

The statement noted that Public Enemy Radio, made up of Chuck D, DJ Lord, Jahi and the S1Ws, would perform as planned at a Sanders rally Sunday evening in Los Angeles, featuring celebrity appearances by “Sarah Silverman and Dick Van Dyke with a special performance by Public Enemy Radio.”

USA TODAY has reached out to Flavor Flav’s representative for comment.

In a letter sent previously to USA TODAY by Flavor Flav’s lawyer, Matthew H. Friedman, a founding partner of Ford & Friedman, the rapper argued that language is “deceptive marketing.” Flavor Flav co-created the band Public Enemy in 1985, but left in 2009. Chuck D is the only remaining founding member, and Public Enemy Radio will release a new album in April, “Loud is Not Enough.”

“While Chuck is certainly free to express his political views as he sees fit — his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy,” the letter reads. “The planned performance will only be Chuck D of Public Enemy, it will not be a performance by Public Enemy. ... There is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav.” 

Chuck D explained in a series of tweets Sunday why he decided to back Sanders and what he thought of Flavor Flav’s reaction. 

“I dig aspects of Bern. Hate the party (expletive). But can relate to half the issues & get forward. Use your minds & be ready to fight whoever in office,” he wrote, adding he doesn’t “attack FLAV on what he don’t know.”

In a statement sent Sunday to USA TODAY by Friedman, Flavor Flav added: “Chuck and I were blessed to build something that wasn’t a dictatorship it was a movement based on the way we lived in our neighborhood and what we faced in our community.” 

He continued: “We faced poverty and violence and we were ignored by our government and the media — all we were left with was family. I don’t want our family and our movement broken up. ... I hope that Public Enemy can get back to doing the good works we have done for 30 years ... not for money but for people like me who have been denied their rights to participate because of (expletive) policies.”

Flavor Flav criticized Sanders for showing a “disregard for the truth” and asked that the campaign cease promoting Chuck D’s endorsement as one from the entire group. 

“It is unfortunate that a political campaign would be so careless with the artistic integrity of such iconoclastic figures in American culture,” Friedman’s letter added. “Sanders claims to represent ‘everyman’ not ‘the man’ yet his grossly irresponsible handling of Chuck’s endorsement threatens to divide Public Enemy and, in doing so, forever silences one of our nation’s loudest and most enduring voices for social change.” 

The letter concluded: “Bernie, his name is Flavor Flav and he does NOT approve your message!” 

Chuck D responded to a Public Enemy fan on Twitter that he “would not have a PublicEnemy without a Flavor,” but he was a “political artist,” urging his followers to “make YOUR decision & NOT be a damn robot in 2020.” 

Contributing: Kim Willis, USA TODAY

Read more at usatoday.com

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