The Hip-Hop Gods Classic Tourfest Revue at Royale, Boston, on Sunday, December 2, 2012.
The first-ever Hip-Hop Gods tour touched down in Boston, and the idea driving it is far different from the high profile "Rock The Bells" tour. Organizer Chuck D was inspired by two unlikely sources: mid 70s classic rock radio, and golf. "I was inspired by the classic rock radio in the middle of the 70s. Rock had grown so big, but you couldn't call Frampton what The Beatles or Chuck Berry had done the previous two decades. Classic rock ended up being bigger than the rock at that time. It's the same thing with hip-hop because these people are crafts people. it's not a hustle with them. A hustle is the language of a scavenger. If the music business today resembles a desert, then these artists resemble cactuses. They are able to dig deep and survive in the desert. My job is to come along and shine a light that comes our way, across to our peers." The golf angle comes in when Chuck was surprised to flip through the channels years back and hearing the names Nicklaus and Palmer in a golf tournament.
Another important angle to this tour (capped at two weeks, because it's Chuck's experience that "after fourteen days the wheels start popping off of people. I've been on eight-five tours. Trust me, I know.") is the social media angle. Brenda Laurel, the social media guru who has worked w/ Smashing Pumpkins, Topspin and others, was involved, and from the stage performers encouraged the use of Twitter as a conversation piece and dialog tool, especially Monie Love and Awesome Dre exhorting the crowd to get involved via their keypads. The whole evening felt like a big, extended family gathering. Johnny Juice was a most capable DJ for most of the night, giving the necessary big fat beats for Awesome Dre, decked out in a customized Adidas logo shirt. He'd also do some call and response with Dinco D from Leaders of The New School, and the smartly dressed Son of Bazerk wove a tight web of sync'd up dance moves and call outs. Schoolly D was bare-chested and hat-covered, dancing around the stage like a court jester and having fun while delivering his classic "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?" He also encouraged a woman in the front row to find out with her hand why he wrote a song called "Mr. Big Dick" and she obliged.
Monie Love got the crowd bopping with her hit "Monie In Da Middle" and Wise Intelligent put down some ultra-slick and heavy raps, wise beyond his years. Chuck got local legend Akrobatik to lay down some solo verses and he delivered without breaking a sweat. Brother J and his daughter worked through some classic X Clan cuts before the main show got going. Yes, Public Enemy was the clear draw here, and they showed exactly why they recently got inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame. Big sound, super tight raps, incisive lyrics and an unmatched showmanship- those are the hallmarks of a Public Enemy performance, and this did not veer from that blueprint. Chuck D is the main voice of Public Enemy, but you can't have PE without the hype man of hip-hop, Flavor Flav. Calling himself the 'reality show star of the decade," Flavor came strutting out in a tri-colored mink hoodie, sang an uninterrupted note into the mic that stretched out long enough to suggest he had Michael Phelps' lung capacity, and was all over the stage jumpin' and jivin', rippin' and rhymin'. He even took up the bass guitar at one stretch, laying down a mean groove with some occasional pops. Though it was a short set due to the other acts on tonight's bill, the hits came fast and furious..."Public Enemy #1," "Night Of The Living Baseheads," "911 Is A Joke," "Bring Tha Noize." Nothing was left on the stage by the time "Fight The Power" ended the show. It'll be interesting to see where Chuck takes this Classic Hip-Hop tour idea, and installment #2 should be just as entertaining.