Please read this short but wonderfully informative and balanced article on Public Enemy. Most significantly to us, the author describes the way PE is able to usurp the power of record labels and distributors by never selling it’s publishing rights. I wish this was more in depth. Link (via boingboing)

Public Enemy remains defiantly cutting edge, not just in its music but, equally importantly, in its approach to distributing its songs to fans. Ever a proponent of self-determination, the group has done more than any band to bypass the big labels and make music as it sees fit. In the late 1990s, when fellow rapper Dr. Dre sued Napster for making his songs available for free, Public Enemy’s Chuck D defended the renegade file-sharing service, arguing that the internet gives artists an unprecedented ability to subvert corporate control and connect directly with their fans.
As a jab to PolyGram, Public Enemy’s distributor at the time, the group released There’s a Poison Goin’ On over the internet and on zip drives, until the band was finally released from its contract. Emboldened by the success, they went on to form their own record label. They created Rapstation to showcase new hip-hop talent. And they built into a highly trafficked website, where among other things, they make a cappella versions of their songs available and encourage fans to make remixes.
Even more remarkable is the way Public Enemy has structured its distribution deals. Whereas many bands sell publishing rights to their record labels in exchange for an advance, Public Enemy grants its distributors a limited license. After a specified period, the rights revert back to the group.
Add to the mix Chuck D’s weekly talk show on the Air America radio network, his own channel on AOL Radio and the band’s regular tours of Asia, Europe and the United States, and Public Enemy becomes a prime example of the success that follows from a properly executed do-it-yourself strategy.
“You’re damn right I have more control now,” Chuck D told me in a phone interview the other day. “These times are better than any times I’ve ever been involved in in getting what I think out to the public.”