The 25 Realest Rap Songs About Prison

Public Enemy "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" (1988)

Producer: The Bomb Squad
Album: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Label: Def Jam

The slow-beating heart of PE's sophomore masterpiece, "Black Steel" is less a jailhouse narrative than a ruthlessly efficient work of agit-prop. Chuck D opens the song by calling the government suckers, then proceeds to pile on the revolutionary rhetoric—"packed in the cell like slaves," "anti-nigga machine"—to the point where listeners are ready to brandish bazookas for the S1W. As the prison riot unfolds, punctuated by Flavor Flav's crackly telephonic exultations, Chuck and his 52 comrades blast their way free and declare, triumphantly, "we are gone." Unfortunately the music video ends with the pale-faced warden smiling as a noose tightens around Chuck's neck.  —Rob Kenner

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