The rap group "Public Enemy", in their second album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (released in 1988), had a track titled Don't Believe the Hype. Its first stanza is:

Caught you lookin' for the same thing
It's a new thing - check out this I bring
Uh oh, the roll below the level
'Cause I'm livin' low next to the bass
Turn up the radio
They claim that I'm a criminal
By now I wonder how
Some people never know
The enemy could be their friend, guardian
I'm not a hooligan
I rock the party and
Clear all the madness, I'm not a racist
Preach to teach to all
'Cause some they never had this
Number one, not born to run
About the gun...
I wasn't licensed to have one
The minute they see me, fear me
I'm the epitome - the public enemy
Used, abused, without clues
I refused to blow a fuse
They even had it on the news. ...
Don't believe the hype

What is meant by the first line "caught you lookin' for the same thing"? More specifically, what 'thing' was being looked for and why?

Also, what is this 'new thing' that he's going to 'bring'?

What does he mean by 'don't believe the hype'?

  • 1
    Just FYI, this post has been flagged for closure as "too broad". I think it's fine to ask a general question about the meaning of the first few lines, but I'd suggest you edit out your query about "don't believe the hype" (which you could then ask in a new question instead).
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 9:53

1 Answer 1


Here’s a rough gloss of the verses:

“Back” —> “we have returned with a second album”

“caught you lookin’ for the same thing” —> “we know you were expecting us to repeat our prior success with a more-of-the-same sophomore effort…”

“It’s a new thing” —> “… but we have advanced our artistic talents and political awareness”

(The above is merely my interpretation, but it’s similar to the community gloss supplied by Genius.com.

Indeed, “caught you lookin’” is a good example of how PE had advanced: it accuses the listener of being complicit in a capitalist system that delivers bland pop music that exactly meets (but never exceeds) their expectations. (Per the Wikipedia article for the song, Chuck D was reading Noam Chomsky around the time he wrote this song.). PE is trying to wake their audience up, open their eyes, and get them on their feet.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.