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UPDATED: Did Bernie Sanders Get Flavor Flav Fired From Public Enemy?

By Kristy Puchko | Politics | March 2, 2020 |

By Kristy Puchko | Politics | March 2, 2020 |


Welcome to today’s Mad Libs headline from the weirdest timeline. As the Democratic Primary heads into Super Tuesday, senator Bernie Sanders became a flashpoint for the members of Public Enemy, which has resulted in longtime member Flavor Flav being fired from the storied hip hop group.

The conflict sparked last week when the Sanders campaign announced a very special guest at a Los Angeles event.


Referencing the Public Enemy song “Fight The Power” and promising an appearance by Public Enemy, it might seem the whole group was standing up for Sanders. However, Flavor Flav was not on board for this political promotion.

In a cease and desist letter to Sanders from Flav’s attorneys, the clock-wearing rapper made clear this was a “misleading narrative.” The letter stated in part, “The planned performance will only be Chuck D of Public Enemy, it will not be a performance by Public Enemy. Those who truly know what Public Enemy stands for know what time it is, there is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav.”

The letter also argued the above promotion “threatens to divide Public Enemy and, in so doing, forever silence one of our nation’s loudest and most enduring voices for social change.” It concluded with a handwritten note from Flav to Sanders, which read, “Hey Bernie, Don’t Do This.”

Sanders has not responded publicly. However, Public Enemy founder Chuck D took to Twitter noting that the above flyer doesn’t say Public Enemy, it say Public Enemy Radio (look closely under the “y” on “enemy”), which is an offshoot of the group, featuring Chuck D, DJ Lord, Jahi, and the S1Ws.

He then added:

News outlets have noted D and Flav have had other disagreements over the years over merchandising and royalties. However, D suggested their biggest arguments were born from a similar debate of how the band’s brand might be used in politics.

On Sunday, Public Enemy Radio performed at Sanders’ rally at the Los Angeles Convention Center. This was also the day the group released a statement to Rolling Stone that publicly fired Flavor Flav:

“Public Enemy and Public Enemy Radio will be moving forward without Flavor Flav. We thank him for his years of service and wish him well.”

So, did Bernie Sanders get Flavor Flav booted from Public Enemy? No. Chuck D’s lawyer claims the rapper is the sole owner of the Public Enemy trademark. As such, Chuck D has the right to use that trademark as he sees fit, which includes backing his preferred presidential candidate. There’s no sign Sanders had any say in the decision to fire Flavor Flav or that Chuck D and the group would be open to the senator’s thoughts on their lineup.

At present, Flavor Flav has not endorsed a presidential contender.

UPDATE: Flavor Flav has responded on Twitter.

Sources: Deadline, THR, Rolling Stone

Header Image Source: Getty