Public Enemy (Forum, London)

I’ve seen Public Enemy live, muthafuckaaaaas……

Ahem. Sorry, I realize not everyone reading this will regard such experiences as seminal. But let me take this in steps. First, they’re PUBLIC ENEMY, MUTHAFUCKAAAAAAS! Second, back in the days when for me, buying an album, any album, was an investment of staggering financial significance, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back was the first hip-hop album I ever bought. I know the same could be said for countless other wannabe music eclecticists who did….did..did…..did believe the hype, but let me point out that I spent these formative years in Singapore, where most Beastie Boys albums (and Janet Jackson’s The Velvet Rope, for crying out loud) were banned until recently. Dammit, it took real commitment for a kid like me in Singapore to become an annoying music snob. Third, it became increasingly obvious in later years that my taste in MCs seems to have been indelibly moulded by the stentorian sounds of Chuck D. To this day, there is no MC I find as compelling.

Public Enemy have still got it. By the time Nick, Benny and I had got absolutely knackered from the sheer intensity of their performance, Griff was still doing quintuple kung fu kicks across the stage, Flav was crowd-surfing, and Chuck D was still sprinting everywhere bellowing. Some bits got a little self-indulgent, like Flav promoting his new album, and going on and on and on at the end about how the war was fucked, and how we had to raise our fingers in the peace sign, and then join them to signify togetherness, and then clench our fists to signify the power of togetherness, but I guess that’s something you have to expect from a rap group which are about more than gold chains and ho’s.

Other worthy features of the evening were masterful performances from supporting acts Killa Kela and Kool Keith. Killa Kela’s gotten even better since the last time I saw him. I suppose people in the beatboxing loop would say he’s still got some way to go before he reaches the dizzy heights of Rahzel or Doug E. Fresh, but I ain’t never heard of them beatboxing speed drum’n’bass before, ‘aaaight? Also noteworthy was his rendition of Britney’s I’m A Slave 4 U complete with gasping orgasmic vocals.

So that was another ridiculously worthwhile gig for the list. I’m seeing El-P and Murs next week, and I haven’t even written about the amazingness of Magoo on Saturday. And Calla are playing at the Water Rats in May. And I’m seeing Nick Cave in June. There are many other ways in life of being a sad geek, but all this certainly works well enough for me.