“Bernie, his name is Flavor Flav and he does NOT approve your message!”
The Bernie Sanders campaign may have unintentionally sowed discord between two members of a legendary hip-hop group.
According to a report from Spin, Public Enemy co-founder, Flavor Flav, has filed a cease and desist order against the Vermont senator’s campaign for the use of the group’s name and likeness in a promo for an upcoming rally in Los Angeles. In a letter from his attorney, Flav goes on to charge the Sanders campaign with creating and promoting a “false narrative,” in which the whole of the group is supporting the Vermont senator’s campaign when only Chuck D has endorsed the candidate for president and will be the lone member of the group to perform.
Chuck and the Sanders campaign have yet to respond or issue a statement at the time of publishing, but it remains unclear what recourse (beyond taking the poster out of circulation) is actually available to any party involved.
You can read Flavor Flav’s full cease and desist letter below.
Re: Creating Division within Public Enemy through Appropriation of Likeness
We have been retained to represent the interests of William Drayton p.k.a. Flavor Flav concerning recent false reporting of Public Enemy’s endorsement of the Bernie Sanders campaign as well as the unauthorized use of his likeness, image and trademarked clock in promotional materials circulated by the campaign and its network of online operatives in support of Bernie’s upcoming rally.
We have become aware that Flavor’s bandmate and Public Enemy co-creator, Chuck D, has endorsed Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for President and plans to perform at an upcoming Sanders Rally. While Chuck is certainly free to express his political views as he sees fit – his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy. 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.
It appears the Sanders campaign has been content to sit back and allow the media to promote a false narrative to the American people. Sanders has promised to “Fight the Power” with hip hop icons Public Enemy – but this Rap Icon will not be performing at the Sanders Rally. To be clear Flav and, by extension, the Hall of Fame hip hop act Public Enemy with which his likeness and name have become synonymous has not endorsed any political candidate in this election cycle and any suggestion to the contrary is plainly untrue. The continued publicizing of this grossly misleading narrative is, at a minimum, careless and irresponsible if not intentionally misleading.
Flav is reaching out, not in the spirit of division, but for the sake of unity in the hope of preserving the integrity of the Public Enemy Movement and the faith and trust his millions of fans around the world have placed in him. Over more than 30 years in the public spotlight – whether on television or radio – Flav has always delivered his authentic self. That authenticity compels him to speak out to ensure voters are not misled and that Public Enemy’s music does not become the soundtrack of a fake revolution.
This is hardly the first time the establishment has tried to define Flav and Public Enemy. They claimed he and his bandmates were drug dealing gang members – they weren’t. They were artists using their music and platform to fight injustice, advocate for their community and strive for truth and transparency against an establishment which wanted to keep people in the dark. With songs like 911 is a Joke; Fight The Power; Harder Than You Think; and Don’t Believe The Hype Flavor Flav and Public Enemy didn’t just talk about revolution – they started one that brought about real lasting systemic change. The Public Enemy Movement cannot allow its cultural identity, likeness and life’s work to be misappropriated by political operatives in support of a fictional revolution – Don’t Believe The Hype!
It is unfortunate that a political campaign would be so careless with the artistic integrity of such iconoclastic figures in American culture. Sanders claims to represent everyman not the man yet his grossly irresponsible handling of Chuck’s endorsement threatens to divide Public Enemy and, in so doing, forever silence one of our nation’s loudest and most enduring voices for social change. Perhaps Sanders didn’t intend to sow these irreconcilable differences but, by and through his disregard for the truth, he has nonetheless. If Bernie allows this deceptive marketing to continue without clearly correcting the messaging to reflect the true nature of this endorsement which should accurately read: “Chuck D of Public Enemy” – Senator Sanders will himself have played a part in whitewashing a key chapter in American History.
Bernie, his name is Flavor Flav and he does NOT approve your message!