Public Enemy with Ice T

Public Enemy with Ice T
It was a Saturday night in Los Angeles. I was catching a drink at a LAX lounge, waiting for my red eye flight back to NYC. Flipping through the current VIBE issue pages I began talking to the waitress. Of course, the topic was hip-hop. She shared some of the current gossip with me and I did the same. I thought to myself that music may very well be the single strongest bond between strangers. It wasn’t long before she asked me for the magazine after I finish reading it. Then I just couldn’t help it but to brag to her about the Public Enemy concert I was going to see in NYC in less than 24 hours. “Flava Flav’s right there” she said. Needless to say, I jumped up and looked behind me. Perhaps the greatest hype man in the hip-hop industry was standing only a few feet away from me. Fronting the same fashions as he would on stage at the show he was visibly far past the first drink. A round clock hanging from a chain around his neck, bright yellow jacket, funky sunglasses and the golden old school grillz spelling out FLAVA… there could be no mistake. I approached him with a big smile of a fan and was greeted by the excitement and energy we’ve grown accustomed to from Flav. “I’m going to your show tomorrow in NYC, man” “Yeah, I’m heading there too” he smiled. “Chucky D, Ice-T… Come check us all out!” A few more words were exchanged and I stepped aside to let a group of kids take a picture with him. His assistant, a kid who was barely 18, was quietly sitting on the side next to a VH-1 rep.

About 15 hours later VH-1 was interviewing Grandmaster Kaz in front of the venue with a line of fans anxiously awaiting the 8 pm kick off. About 2 hours more and Ice T stepped on the stage of BBKing’s and announced the show. He dropped some rhymes and even did a full new song remixed with a Nina Simone chorus line. Talking about the ‘real gansta’ he rocked the crowd just by showing up.

As we all know Ice T is far more than the man who said “f— tha police.” He is an actor, a successful entrepreneur and a philanthropist. Before long he introduced a bunch of prep school, mostly white, kids on stage. “These kids have never seen a real stage before. They’ve never seen a turntable. They didn’t even know hip-hop until recently. Now they love hip-hop!” he roared into the mike. Unfortunately the crowd was there to see old school rap and not the evolution of a movement. YPC (that was the name of the group) didn’t get a warm greeting. Big L, Missy El, and the other kids must have thought very little of the crowd. Just as any other movement, hip hop is promoted by the industry’s greatest. Whether it is done through MTV, VH-1 (Flava Flav has the most watched hip hop show there), BET or through Ice T’s efforts, hip hop has obviously reached a culminative moment in its history. Without some help it will loose its way. Most R&B music we hear nowadays is just plain pop. Hip Hop is not far behind. The greats like Ice T are there to help out. The crowd wasn’t feeling it. Someone threw a cup at one of them and another spectator tried wrestling the mike away from a kid’s hand. Have you seen Ice T furious? Have you seen him curse people out? Yeah, the kids weren’t that great. They were 12-14 year old kids from nice schools in the Bronx whose parents went to a hip hop show for the first time in their lives to support their children! They rapped their own lyrics, lines like “money isn’t everything, go back to reality.”

Enough said on that. Chuck D got on stage and rocked the mike as if he took no break from doing the shows. Rapping the old favorites like ‘911 Is A Joke’, ‘Fight The Power’, ‘Don’t Believe The Hype’ and ‘Rebel Without a Pause’ he was joined by Flav, still wearing the same yellow jacket and the same clock on a chain. Terminator X was replaced by DJ Law a few years back and he showed off his mastery to us as well. His matrix scratching demonstrated to all why his name is so well known in the game and why he won so many DJ competitions. In between the songs they took breaks to address the current issues bugging down the people. Gas prices are about as big of a nuisance to most as the police was in PE’s original songs. “F— Bush! F— Cheney! F— war!” Chuck D kept it coming. Their message has always been misunderstand by the outsiders. PE will rap against anything or anyone who’ll bug down the common man. Its power and its voice are there to represent those without representation. They talked of Peace and Love and Unity. Just as before, it seemed that only some in the crowd heard the message despite putting the dukes up. POWER is the only word most heard. Well, with players like 50 cents on the scene, who can blame them?

At the end Flava Flav did a drum and a guitar solo for all.

That was not all thou! Half way through PE’s performance, the game’s greatest came on stage to show the respect and the love for Public Enemy, for Ice T and for fans. Grandmaster Kaz, Meli Mel, Jeru da Damaja, Zulu Nation’s Red Dragon and a couple of other old school rap legends graced the stage with their presence. After the show the backstage was packed with living breathing legends just standing around and exchanging some words.
BTW, as Ice T said, Public Enemy came on a single call from him to do this show.

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