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Soundtracking The Scene: Public Enemy in 'Pineapple Express'

By Stereo Williams

Seth Rogen's stoner action flick Pineapple Express is one of the all-time great weed movies. The story of lazy process server Dale Denton (Rogen) and his goofy weed guy, Saul (James Franco); it follows the hapless pair as they're unwittingly sucked into a criminal conspiracy involving murder, mayhem and marijuana. With Danny McBride as supplier Red and supporting turns for Amber Heard, Rosie Perez, Nora Dunn and Ed Begley, Jr. it's become one of the most beloved entries in Rogen's comedy filmography.

In one of the movie's most memorable sequences, Dale and Red get locked and loaded to go into battle against evil drug mogul Ted (Gary Cole) and his dirty cop partner (Perez). The sequence unfolds as a hilarious montage of the pair psyching themselves up for battle, with Public Enemy's underrated "Lost At Birth" blasting. The song's frenetic energy works perfectly throughout the montage, and shines a light on one of P.E.'s lesser celebrated cuts. "...Birth" is featured on P.E.'s 1991 classic Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black, an album that also features bangers like "Can't Truss It" and "Shut 'Em Down."

Apocalypse '91: The Enemy Strikes Black was the capper on a stellar four-album run for Public Enemy. It dropped in a year with no shortage of classic Hip-Hop albums, and still managed to stand out as Chuck D, Flavor Flav and the crew delivered a sound that was somewhat more streamlined and funky than their previous efforts. The Bomb Squad's presence on the project morphed into an executive production role, and the tracks themselves were mostly handled by the Imperial Grand Ministers Of Funk. The IGMF was mostly a fictional collective: the man behind most of the album's production was former Bomb Squad-er Gary "G-Wiz" Rinaldo. But the beats had more live instrumentation than ever before, giving P.E. an album that still sounded like P.E. but with richer grooves.

"Lost At Birth" opens the album, and its the perfect highlight for G-Whiz's production talents. Having assumed the production role on a P.E. project from the legendary Hank and Eric Shocklee and Vietnam Adler; G-Wiz had major shoes to fill. But "Lost At Birth" makes it clear that P.E. is still in full effect, and G-Wiz is pushing them into new territory. The majority of the track is instrumental (Chuck D doesn't start rapping into more than two-and-half minutes in) and it sets the tone for Apocalypse 91... In Pineapple Express, the song's raucous power is the perfect backdrop as Dale and his reluctant frenemy Red prepare to go face off against evil drug kingpin Ted and save their pal, stoned-out weed dealer Saul.

Seth Rogen's affinity for Hip-Hop has been well-documented, and he shows off his fanboy-ism in most of his movies. From rocking a Liquid Swords tee in 40-Year Old Virgin to opening Knocked Up with a salute to Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," Rogen keeps classic Hip-Hop front-and-center in so many of his projects. And that memorable sequence from Pineapple Express is one of his best Hip-Hop "nods."

Public Enemy has just released a deluxe edition of Apocalypse '91: The Enemy Strikes Black with thirteen bonus tracks, eight of which have never been available through digital platforms. So it's the perfect time to revisit a classic album from one of music's most legendary groups. It's also a good time to rewatch Pineapple Express, with or without herbal refreshments.