Public Enemy at First Avenue, 12/6/12
with X-Clan, Monie Love, Schoolly D, Leaders of the New School, Wise Intelligent, Son of Bazerk and No Self Control, Awesome Dre, Davy DMX and DJ Johnny Juice Thursday.
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Thursday, December 6, 2012
The Hip Hop Gods Tour, the brainchild of Public Enemy's Chuck D, made its stop at First Avenue Thursday and for a six-hour long show (no, that is not a typo), it could have been a lot worse, but it also could have been a lot better. For its length, its scope was too narrow. Shows like this are better suited for summer festivals and for the most part it rang hollow.
The opening bands weren't given enough time onstage to make much of an impact, save for X-Clan, who were afforded nearly an hour, and Monie Love, simply because she was the only female and had the wherewithal to bring out local rapper MaLLy for a quick song. The other bands -- who in actuality were the originals in name only -- Leaders of the New School, which was really only Dinco D; Wise Intelligent from Poor Righteous Teachers and the rest were given little stage time and had to work fast to make any sort of an impact -- most didn't.
Regardless of what the marquee advertised, people were there to see headliners Public Enemy. It was a long, arduous wait filled with old hits from revered bands and quick Q&A sessions helmed by Chuck D after each set. Overall, it played out like watching a 1992 episode of "Yo! MTV Raps" on fast-forward.
|Photo by Tony Nelson|
By about hour four the banner hanging at the back of the stage featuring that oh-so-familiar militant-in-crosshairs logo loomed large; beckoning, promising.
As a result, final openers X-Clan's set shook out to be more of an intrusion than anything else, which was a shame. The crowd was becoming antsy, even somewhat agitated. How much longer would we have to wait? Why was X-Clan given roughly triple the stage time that everyone else was? When do we get to see Flavor Flav?! Only the second question went unanswered but the answers we did get weren't the ones we were necessarily seeking, either.
The intro to Public Enemy's set was ridiculously long, owing to a sound problem they were working out with DJ Lord. (Original DJ Terminator X has long since retired.) The crowd again waited as two hype men tried to keep the crowd warm with the usual "Are you ready Minneapolis? I mean, are you really ready?" that wore thin almost immediately. The crowd was more than ready, and the last barrier proved to be almost too much. Finally, though, the Security of the First World (S1W) appeared as did Chuck D and Professor Griff and they rumbled through a stellar version of "Rebel Without a Pause" that found Flavor Flav finally appearing about a quarter of the way through to the loudest cheers of the night.
The building momentum almost immediately came to a crashing halt, however, as Flavor Flav went into a long, disjointed, rambling monologue about the history of the band, the history of hip-hop and, inexplicably, his newfound fame as a reality TV star. Some of it made sense, but about half of it was taken up by the words "fuck" and "motherfucker," making it difficult to track exactly what he was getting at, a trend that would continue at various points throughout the set.
|Photo by Tony Nelson|
"911 Is a Joke" finally followed, but the wind came out of the sails completely as it became obvious Flav was lip-synching his vocals (and poorly, at that), likely leaving many to wonder what exactly was happening onstage. "Welcome to the Terrordome" started to build the momentum again, Flav actually singing on that one and finally falling into to his human cartoon mode, with his trademark dancing and jumping around, running to the corners of the stage every so often to hype up the crowd. (He is the original hype man, after all.)