Public Enemy at Electric Brixton
Formed in 1982 in New York, Public Enemy have long been the fierce voice of dissidence in the hip-hop world. With a double album release in 2012, they’re currently touring the UK and we thought it damn essential to check out whether they can still conjure the furore of yesteryears.
Outside the venue the atmosphere oozes anticipation as fans shuffle about eagerly awaiting their entrance. Once inside, enthusiasm hits us, the air awash with palpable hopefulness as the audience waits with brimming excitement.
Looking towards the stage, a vociferous MC is delivering a pre-emptive safety message warning against fighting, throwing shit on stage and not loving each other. A clever and much-needed ploy aimed to channel the room’s energy down positive pathways.
Enter Public Enemy. Led by Chuck D the hip-hop composite storms the stage and ignites the crowd. Now in their 50s, their faces may have slightly weathered but their ability to manipulate and entertain an audience certainly hasn’t. You often hear acts talk about feeding from their fans but this is a one-way transaction as Public Enemy continually supply the crowd with melodious sustenance.
Cleverly stagnating their entrances, the legend that is Flavor Flav arrives during the third track accompanied by huge wholesome cheers. Flav moves with vigour, plying the room with slick, songful lyrics and plenty of his traditional “Yeah Boy!” and “Flavor Flav” shout-outs.
Comprised of a well-dressed stage, dance performers and DJ Lord backing up each song with some skilful well-timed vinyl scratching the show is a visual and oral feast – the highlight being their performance of He Got Game.
With a military theme and plenty of their songs steeped in political rhetoric, Public Enemy have lost none of their agenda; the message ‘fight the power’ remains as significant as ever.
Adding credibility to our infatuation with anything retro, you couldn’t have asked more from Public Enemy, who truly satisfied on all fronts. Powerful, entertaining and full of funk, their crowd pleasing and didactic verve was in full swing. Real hip-hop is dead? Not while these guys are still around.
Photos: Melissa Harper
For further information and future events visit Public Enemy’s website here.
Watch the video for Don’t Believe the Hype here: