10 Essential New York Artists: #2 Public Enemy

The News: Chuck D and DJ Lord of PE will perform at the Apollo on Tuesday, September 12th as members of Prophets of Rage with support from Living Colour

There’s no one who is more important from what’s come to be known as the golden age of hip hop than Public Enemy.  Last Tuesday evening Betsy Head Park in Brownsville was the place to be as Chuck D, Flavor Flav, and Professor Grif rocked the mics and treated the Brooklyn neighborhood to a free concert as part of the Summerstage series.  On this day, June 28th, in 1988 – 28 years ago, PE released It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.  That album’s Don’t Believe The Hype and Bring The Noise figured in the setlist.  The former read like a manifesto for the kind of perceptive street reporting that’s at the root of the group’s vitality.  The latter, with its Yoko Ono and Anthrax references along with ones to Run DMC, LL Cool J, and Eric B, suggested the crew’s omnivorous musical appetites and sense of context and continuum.

Delivering overtly political social commentary on record, as genius as it may be – (911 Is A Joke from 1989’s Fear Of A Black Planet was also performed) – doesn’t guarantee an exciting live experience.  Having  DJ Lord and Khari Wynn in the band, however, does.  DJ Lord put on an absolute exhibition on the turntables while Wynn offered guitar thrills on the other side of the stage that toughened and elevated the sonic stew.

Another track on It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Prophets of Rage gives its name to  the group that Chuck D formed last year with B-Real from Cypress Hill and three quarters of Rage Against The Machine: Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk! Seeing those guys at The Apollo promises to be wicked.  

Go to #3 artist Rakim

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