American rapper and television personality Flavor Flav was born this day March 16 in 1959. Flavor Flav came to prominence as a founding member of the rap group Public Enemy. In 1984, the group released a track, “Public Enemy #1”, which brought them to the attention of Def Jam Records executive Rick Rubin. Rubin initially did not understand Flav’s role in the act and wanted to sign Chuck D as a solo act; however Chuck D insisted that Flav be signed with them and the two were signed to Def Jam in 1986. The group’s first album, Yo! Bum Rush the Show, was released in 1987. Flav served as the comic foil to Chuck D’s serious, politically charged style.
The group gained much wider fame with their following release, 1988’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, which went double platinum. By the time the political single “Fight the Power” was issued in 1989, the group had become mainstream superstars.
Along with Chuck D, the showman of the group and its promotional voice, Flav stood out among the members of Public Enemy as he often got the fans excited, appearing on stage and in public wearing big hats and glasses and a large clock dangling from his neck. The first released track on which Flav rapped solo was “Life Of A Nigerian” on Goat Ju JU, though the first hit on which he rapped solo would not come until the 1990s single “911 Is a Joke”. During Public Enemy’s first years of existence, Flav dealt with tensions with group-mate Professor Griff, who never liked Flav’s flamboyant stance in what Griff felt to be a serious, politically-challenging group. In 1990, after allegedly making anti-Semitic comments, Professor Griff left Public Enemy.
After falling out of the public eye for a number of years, he reappeared as the star of several VH1 reality series, including The Surreal Life, Strange Love, and Flavor of Love. In 2006, he also put out his first solo album, which was released during the second season of Flavor of Love.