This week on the music beat
Stephen Stills, Public Enemy and Billy Joel made news the week of May 1, 1998
Classic rock’s no stranger to hip-hop — remember Run-DMC’s ”Walk This Way” or De La Soul’s Steely Dan samples? — but Public Enemy and Stephen Stills’ collaboration on a remake of Buffalo Springfield’s 1967 hit ”For What It’s Worth,” featured on the soundtrack to the new Spike Lee movie, He Got Game, is particularly odd. True, Stills, 53, and PE frontman Chuck D, 37, are both aging activists, and the original’s loping beat and fight-the-power sentiment lend themselves well to hip-hop. But while Stills claims his foray into rap is only natural (”I started out playing black music and blues, so, of course, I’m gonna follow what the brothas is up to next,” he says), his phlegmatic croak on the new track (retitled ”He Got Game”) suggests the pairing was driven more by commerce than art. ”Come on, Stephen Stills in a PE video? It can’t be anything but marketing,” says Walter Leaphart, Chuck D’s manager. ”People have to understand that first and foremost this is a movie soundtrack.” But Stills still seems to be taking rap pretty seriously: He’s working on a song on which he actually raps, although it might not appear on his upcoming album. ”I’ve gotta live with it for a while,” he says. ”It might be completely ridiculous. But it’s very difficult to do, I can sure as hell tell you that. Anybody who thinks it’s stupid or simple oughta try it.”
PC was here?
Eric Clapton recently got a dose of the Irate Woman Blues after domestic-abuse activists strenuously objected to ”Sick and Tired,” a track from his current album, Pilgrim. Donna Ferrato, founder of the Domestic Abuse Awareness Project, contends that the song — which includes the lyric ”I may have to blow your brains out, baby/Then you won’t bother me no more” — constitutes ”a hate message to women” and wants Clapton’s label, Reprise, to delete ”Sick and Tired” from the album and to donate ”a million or a half-million dollars” to batterers’ rehab programs. A spokesperson from Reprise, Bob Merlis, says the label has not been officially approached about any donations and has no intention of pulling the track.