Though the rapper’s dismissal followed a public spat over Public Enemy’s plan to perform at a Bernie Sanders campaign event last Sunday, the Fight the Power troupe has since said Flavor Flav was not fired from the band “over his political views,” but for myriad other reasons.
In a tweet shared on Monday, Public Enemy revealed that the 60-year-old had actually “been on suspension since 2016,” following a number of missed performances, including the Many Rivers to Cross music festival in Atlanta, Ga. — which doubled as a Harry Belafonte charity event.
“That was the last straw for the group,” the statement read. Flavor Flav “had previously missed numerous live gigs from Glastonbury to Canada, album recording sessions and photo shoots. He always chose to party over work.”
“It’s time to move on and everyone wishes Flavor well,” concluded the statement, which was signed by Public Enemy co-founder Chuck D and additional members James Bomb, Pop Diesel and DJ Lord.
At first, some fans were under the impression Flavor Flav was exiled from the group because he and his attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to Sanders.
The legal document came in response to an announcement that Chuck D, 59, had planned to perform under the group’s name at one of Sanders’ political rallies — similar to what The Strokes did for the 78-year-old last month.
Flavor Flav argued that Public Enemy Radio — a Chuck D-led offshoot of Public Enemy, featuring DJ Lord, Jahi and the S1Ws — had used his “unauthorized likeness, image, and trademarked clock.”
“While Chuck is certainly free to express his political view as he sees fit — his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy,” the letter read. “The planned performance will only be Chuck D of Public Enemy, it will not be a performance by Public Enemy.
“Sanders has promised to Fight the Power with hip hop icons Public Enemy — but this Rap Icon will not be performing at the Sanders Rally. To be clear Flav… has not endorsed any political candidate in this election cycle and any suggestion to the contrary is plainly untrue.”
During an interview with the Guardian on Wednesday, Flavor Flav tried to clear the air, saying he doesn’t “have anything against Bernie.”
“I think he’s a good person and I wish him luck,” he said. “I think they’re all good people… Except (Donald) Trump.
“Some people tried to say I did this because I’m a Trump supporter and that’s not true. F–k Trump.”
Chuck D said on Twitter that the incident was “not about Bernie,” joking, “he don’t know the difference between Barry Sanders or Bernie Sanders.”
Public Enemy Radio said the current band members will continue to perform together and release a brand new album next month.
Along with Chuck D, Flavor Flav was a member of the group for 37 years.
— With files from Katie Scott and the Associated Press