Opening with a sonic collage straight out of Fear of a Black Planet, There's a Poison Goin' On.... comes out of the gates sounding like classic Public Enemy, which is exactly what Public Enemy intended, since their slight sonic change-up on He Got Game didn't result in a hit. In a way, PE's feud with Def Jam over downloadable MP3 music was a good thing, since it brought them media attention, which is rare for a veteran hip-hop band. Such increased exposure also brought a minor controversy over "Swindlers Lust," which some perceived as anti-Semitic, but this outrage was isolated because Public Enemy was now at the margins of hip-hop. They were no longer considered cutting-edge, and younger kids never picked up their records, so the only place for this controversy to reside was among the rock critics and aging fans who remembered when It Takes a Nation of Millions changed the world ten years prior. Chuck D must have known that they would be the only ones paying attention to the album, since it consciously copies PE's past and never really breaks from that blueprint. In some respects, that's a disappointment, since He Got Game showed that PE could subtly incorporate modern hip-hop and do it better than some modern acts. But There's a Poison Goin' On.... is nevertheless a strong album, even if it is doggedly classicist. It's also dogmatic, with Chuck preaching to the converted about the evils of the record industry and conformity in hip-hop, which does become a little trying by the end of the record. But he delivers lyrically and PE delivers musically, in a manner that's entirely familiar to fans of Public Enemy, offering a solid continuation of Apocalypse 91. Ultimately, it's their most satisfying record in several years -- which is a subtle difference that only the converted will notice.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine