Sunday, April 29, 2012

Public Enemy in Santa Fe

Public Enemy in Santa Fe

They brought the noise. They also brought the rain.

Public Enemy, the group that basically defined hip hop in the late '80s and early '90s returned to Santa Fe yesterday for a private show for students (and some lucky non-students like myself) at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. It was part of the school's "Artists for Positive Social Change" program.

Performing mostly songs from their classic 1990 Fear of a Black Planet album -- including "Brothers Gonna Work It Out," "911 is a Joke," "Welcome to The Terrordome," "Fight the Power" and more.
Flava Flav

PE's political/socially conscious style of intelligent rap was eclipsed commercially in the early '90s by increasingly mindless gangsta rap, but the young crowd at the college ate this stuff up. I can't see how anyone could argue that this music -- and the lyrics -- are any less relevant today than they were 22 years ago.

And to those of My Generation -- or any damned generation -- that says rap "isn't really music" or similarly idiotic claims, you really ought to check out PE's stage show. Chuck D and Flava Flav are backed by an ace funkified band led by guitarist Khari Wynn. Hell, even Flava Flav grabbed a bass and played it on "Terrordome."

Brian Hardgrove
Mr. Hardgroove
Speaking of bass, longtime PR bassist Brian Hardgroove -- who was instrumental in bringing the group to Santa Fe yesterday, as well as the previous two times they were here -- no longer is with the group. He's on hiatus, he told me. Still, he joined the band on stage Saturday night on "Arizona (Ball of Confusion)" and other tunes.

Earlier in the day, Chuck D and Hardgroove participated in a symposium at the college about hip-hop's impact on society and culture.

Just one little problem with the show:

It rained.

Not a great downpour, but enough to make it unsafe to be playing electric instruments on the stage. So, after about 45 minutes of performing, they left the stage for awhile -- despite the vocal protests of Flava. At first I didn't think they would come back. But after 15 or 20 minutes, they happily proved me wrong.

ICC opening for PE
Hey, a shoutout to some locals: I'll admit I wasn't enthusiastic at first about the opening band, a group of University students who call themselves ICC (Inner City Connection.) But about 20 seconds after they took the stage I realized they're fantastic, full of enthusiasm that matches their talent.

I should have known. ICC was organized and rehearsed by Hardgroove. (Santa Fe musician, USFAD instructor and fellow KSFR DJ Peter Williams also told me that they're students of his. )

And if you don't believe me, here's what Chuck D said about them on Twitter right after the show: "ICC from SantaFe a really really good multiracial gendered Band group of MCs singers players tonight did their thing. Proud of them .. doPE!"
Chuck D
Mr. Chuck

Here's a video of PE from Saturday's show.

Public Enemy "Show 'Em Whatcha Got"/"Bring the Noise" in Santa Fe from brad hayes on Vimeo.

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