Public Enemy: My First Hip-Hop Concert

- April 30, 2012

"Public Enemy has always been on the forefront of political commentary with the poetry of their music and the presentation of their videos"

Public Enemy took the stage at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. My first hip-hop concert and I got an education on the music from icons of the movement, Chuck D and Flavor Flav.

Hip-hop is not just the music. It is about an entire culture; controversial and sometimes misunderstood. As a writer, I pay attention to the lyrics. The words of any true hip-hop song is about the message. Poetry is an integral part of the hip-hop culture. A creative collection of words and flo to be explored for its literary, political and social commentary.

Critics of the genre point to extreme lyrics with violent or overtly sexual undertones, however dismissing out of hand lyrics or groups because they embrace hip-hop culture is extreme in itself. Hip-hop stems from reality and reflects the music, dress, language and literature conceived by the post-civil rights African American experience of the 80’s and 90’s.

The definition of the word “generation” means there has been a change in music, fashion, literature and language. Hip-hop embraced change and created a new generation. Bebop defined the generation of dark shades, musical improvisation, and porkpie hats. The controversial literature of author James Baldwin and poets Sterling Brown and Gwendolyn Brooks were the words of the Bebop generation, the pre-civil rights African American culture. Globally, the Industrial Revolution created a generation that changed music through innovations in the production of musical instruments, bringing music to the masses not just the aristocracy, sewing machines made fashion affordable to everyone and Charles Dickens stirred controversy by focusing on the importance of human rights.

Public Enemy has always been on the forefront of political commentary with the poetry of their music and the presentation of their videos. “Fight the Power” appeared in Spike Lee’s breakthrough film “Do the Right Thing” and their commentary on Arizona’s resistance to the Martin Luther King holiday, “By the Time I Get to Arizona,” are pointed examples of Public Enemy’s ability to express a point of view that keeps it real and in your face. Check their website for new collaborations with visual artists, politicians and athletes as Public Enemy stays current and relevant.

Camouflage and black hoodies, Public Enemy’s fashion statement, is edgy and defiant, just like the poetry of their music. The ambiance of the concert is also reflective of the hip-hop scene. No seats. You would not be sitting much anyway; on your feet is the way to enjoy this music, and as Public Enemy says...let’s get loud! Chuck D and Flavor Flav are originals. They define the genre and seeing them is hip-hop 101. Flav is a source of fashion and language from his gold grill to his love of matching his sneakers to the unforgettable colors of his wardrobe. His style has translated into an industry encompassing TV reality shows and classic expressions identifiable with him.

It was a chill rainy night in an outdoor venue, Chuck D let the crowd know it wasn’t going to stop the show and when Flavor Flav showed off his trademark clock to hype the crowd, everybody knew what time it was. It was a great concert. Public Enemy defines hip-hop...if ya don’t know, now ya know.