RUN-DMC had a more revolutionary impact on the way records are made. N.W. A spawned more imitators. The Death Row and Bad Boy juggernauts sold more albums. Jay-Z has topped the charts for many more years. But no act in the history of hip-hop ever felt more important than Public Enemy.
At the top of its game, PE redefined not just what a rap group could accomplish, but also the very role pop musicians could play in contemporary culture. Lyrically, sonically, politically, onstage, on the news - never before had musicians been considered “radical” across so many different platforms.