When I received the text announcing the Hip Hop Gods Tour, I immediately smiled. Never seeing several of these classic hip-hop artists live before (Public Enemy, Monie Love, Leaders of the New School, X-Clan), I knew it was my duty as an avid hip-hop supporter to witness them “shut em down”. Putting icing on this “U.N.I.T.Y” filled cake was the last minute invitation that came from Public Enemy’s camp to attend a press conference prior to this show.
Invited to the Grammy Museum, which stands adjacent to Club Nokia, the venue for their last performance on the tour in downtown Los Angeles, I arrived promptly and was escorted to the press room (props to Jolyn for being gracious and extremely helpful) where Chuck D and several activists spoke about their projects and showed a short documentary highlighting Operation Skid Row, a project encouraging civil rights and community activism.
The film definitely hit home as this million-dollar entertainment complex where we sat and hosts several celeb-filled glitzy events on a weekly basis is mere minutes away from Skid Row. It served as a reminder that we (as humans, Los Angelenos, Americans, planet dwellers) should not assume someone else will do something about the problem and turn a blind eye to injustices in the world, a central theme in Public Enemy’s music for the past 25 years.
Introducing the rest of the performing artists one by one with an anecdote, Chuck D was as 4D (down-to-earth, deep, dynamic and determined) as you’d imagine he’d be in person. Speaking about his impending induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and using the light shining on him to reflect back on others like a prism, being in his presence as someone with the courage to say things that everyone else is afraid to say, for the hours I was with him was truly an honor. Monie Love, who I’ve admired for years also spoke about our responsibility to empower and uplift girls and women in hip-hop. Another message which did not fall on deaf ears.
Returning later to attend the show, the highlights included Monie Love breaking out some dance moves and being surprised that we all knew her lyrics in the audience, Wise Intelligent from the Poor Righteous Teachers crew and of course, Public Enemy. Was anxious for Flavor Flav’s appearance along with his clock, which didn’t disappoint. Seeing Chuck D and Flav play off each other live is a sight to see. Did you know Flav played the bass and drums? Now you do. Def a dope highlight of my musical 2012.