The legendary Public Enemy, one of the most influential hip hop crews of all time, hit Sound Academy last night. I don’t think I’ll ever see a 52 and 53 year old (Chuck D and Flavor Flav, respectively) have that much energy again. The show was billed as a performance of PE’s biggest album It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back. But, at the get go, Chuck D announced “Now you may have heard this was supposed to be us playing It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back. But then we’d only be up here for an hour. We’re going to go all night!” That was the good news. There was no bad news. They definitely played a good number of songs from It Takes A Nation of Millions, but that didn’t stop them from busting out other hits too, from ‘He Got Game’ to one of my favourite PE songs, ‘Harder Than You Think’.
DJ Lord was absolutely incredible on the decks, and put forth some of the best scratching I’ve ever heard. He did a great job throughout the show, and showed off when the rest of PE took a break, and he took the spotlight. Starting off by mixing in White Stripe‘s ‘Seven Nation Army’, he quickly transitioned into Nirvana‘s ‘Smells Like Teenage Spirit’, and scratched and mixed the mickey out of it, jumping from deck to deck, until he was finished. As for PE, Chuck D and Flavor Flav showed why they’re still in the game. Chuck D, with the most authoritative voice in hip hop, commanded his lines – though a bit unclearly at times – while Flavor Flav remained the best hype man in the game, jumping around the stage with his iconic clock around his neck. I’m not gonna lie, half the reason I went was to see that clock.
Coming on stage around 10:20, they put on a full energetic two hour set. They jumped around the stage, clearly enjoying themselves, and bouncing with the energy of men half their age. Keeping up their rebel stance, there were definitely instances of “F— the government”. Interestingly, at one point Chuck D gave a shoutout to Run DMC – and then proceeded to say, “I like Jay-Z, I really do like him. But I am not ‘Made in America'” ‘Made In America’ is the name of both a song off Jay-Z and Kanye West‘s Watch The Throne, and the name of Jay-Z’s music festival. Public Enemy were invited to perform, but turned down the request. Speaking to CBC Music after the show, Chuck D stated: “I know I’m made in America but I’m really made on the planet. I’m not made by America. So, we like to protest and be difficult. But I salute them for bringing rap music to the forefront and for Run DMC to get that slot.”
Chuck D and Flavor Flave fed off the energy of the live band. They put on an incredible show. And yes, they still have their S1W’s on stage with them. The Sound Academy had was full enough – though the crowd didn’t go nearly as buck as they should have, other than when PE dropped ‘Bring The Noise’. Definitely an older crowd, with many middle agers who probably remembered when PE was at the height of their fame, mixed with younger party girl crews. And while the crowd may not have been going crazy, the older folks definitely knew the tunes and rapped along. PE brought on two guest appearances – Maestro Fresh Wes and Michie Mee. Wes threw some sweet rhymes down, seen below, including the gem “I told Rob Ford, stick to your vision/Then I saw him eating and said, stick to nutrition.” Chuck D was floored. And while Michie Mee blessed the mic, Flavor Flav hit up the drums.
Rather than have an encore, at the end of the show Flavor Flav stayed on stage and just talked. At the beginning of the show, he asked “Who paid money to be here?”, then “I’m going to make sure you get your money’s worth.” At the end of the show, he asked what he says he asks at every show – “Did you get your money’s worth?” The crowd’s applause was a resounding yes. He went on to talk about the two things he hates the most – racism and segregation. Ending on a positive note, he urged that we are all one people, one planet – and fittingly, when he walked off stage, Bob Marley‘s ‘One Love’ started playing. That makes PE the second rapper/group to outro with a Bob Marley song that I’ve seen recently. An incredible energetic show from one of the biggest rap groups of all time. Definitely worth checking out.
Highlights: Guest appearance by Maestro Fresh Wes, energy, live band setup.
Overall: An awesome show – and when you consider Chuck and Flavor are both in their 50’s, definitely incredible. Amazing energy, great setlist.
Louder Than A Bomb
Rebel Without A Pause
Flava Flav song?
Show ‘Em Whatcha Got
Bring The Noise
Don’t Believe The Hype
Flaval Flav song?
Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic
He Got Game
I Shall Not Be Moved
Harder Than You Think
DJ Lord Break
Guest Appearance: Michie Mee & Maestro Fresh Wes
Too Much Posse
Shut Em Down
Freestyle over AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’
Snippet of ‘By The Time I Get To Arizona’
Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos
Fight The Power
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