Words by Shaolin Steve
Public Enemy @ the Stratford Rex, London, 05/06/2000
A surprisingly small crowd of around 300 P.E. fans showed up at Public Enemy's last concert of their current UK tour. Slum Village warmed up for the crew, but did not seem to impress anyone except a few die-hards up front. Next Professor Griff taunted the crowd from somewhere at the back of the stage, out of sight, as Peter Gunz and Eric B & Rakim tracks were dropped to move the crowd. A couple of S1W's cleared the stage with their samurai swords, and Chuck-D burst into action with 'Prophets of Rage'. Flavor Flav, donned in a red tracksuit and an oversized white clock, launched into the arena soon after. Terminator-X was sadly missing in action, but DJ Law did not disappoint and his scratching was admired by all.
The Enemy gave the public what they'd been missing for so long - 'Black Steel', 'Cant Truss It', '911 Is A Joke', a sped up version of 'Fight the Power', and many more hip hop gems. Chuck took some time out to dis the monarchy and ask the queen to spread some of the "motherf****in' wealth" around. He then gave props to London, saying it was London in '87 that helped P.E. get on their feet, and therefore Public Enemy would always have London's "BACK!!!!" at which point he propelled into 'Don't Believe The Hype!'. 'Rebel Without a Pause' confirmed its place in history as possibly the ultimate Public Enemy track as the Rex went through the roof!
Although Chuck-D and Flavor Flav's stage presence is undeniable, and they rank as one of hip hop's most dynamic duos, a couple of moments did lay waste to the crew's reputation - Professor Griff stopped the show to complain about someone throwing a can on stage, and Flavor dissed Def Jam for holding back his album which is soon to be released (aptly titled 'It's About Time'). Fair enough, but we wanna hear the tracks, not label-wars. Nevertheless, P.E. had come full circle, and proved that although their fan-base may have shrunk slightly, their pioneering spirit lives on.