Old School. New School. Who gives a shit? If I’m going to be honest with you and myself, I’ve never actually been exposed to Public Enemy. I hate admitting it. Haaaate it. The closest I’ve come is Flavor Flav’s handsome VH1 catalogue and the shirt John Connor wears in Terminator 2.
Yet, on Wednesday night, I became a believer. Public Enemy busted onto stage with the enthusiasm of their first promoted gig, pumping a fist in the air, proclaiming that they weren’t messing around. Don’t believe the hype? You don’t have to. Just pop on one of the many records from PE and you’ll realize that behind the sampled drumbeats and dangling clocks, there is a deeper message demanding to be heard.
Smack dab in the middle of the “Hip Hop Gods Tour,” featuring a towering line-up of Monie Love (keeping it all together at 42, mind you) rocking an RGIII jersey and Leaders of the New School dominating Scenario, Public Enemy validated just why they were headlining.
Flav put the hype in hyper, bouncing back and forth across the stage like a 5-year-old who just took a giant whiff from a bag of paint thinner. Chuck D led the squad (including many gentleman wearing fatigues, whose soul purpose was to march with the beat of each cut) through the immense set list that any school, new or old, could have bounced to.
Attendance wasn’t as teeming as one would expect for a headline claiming to house the Gods of Hip-Hop. Nonetheless, each group got on stage and gave command performances like it was a packed coliseum. And Public Enemy proved, after 30 years in the game, why they’re still number one.