North Hollywood, CA – Chuck D was performing “Welcome To The Terrordome” alongside DJ Lord and Bay Area MC/educator Jahi when the doors opened to the North Hollywood studio where they were rehearsing.
The talented trifecta — collectively known as Public Enemy Radio — was preparing for the upcoming Gods Of Rap Tour, which features Wu-Tang Clan, De La Soul and DJ Premier.
With the P.E. frontman’s booming, orator-style voice, Jahi’s unwavering passion for Hip Hop and Lord’s impeccable scratches, the newly established trio sounds like they’re ready take over the world with their revolutionary music, something Chuck has been doing for the better part of three decades.
The Gods Of Rap Tour kicks off on Friday (May 10) in London, but one person will be noticeably absent — the inimitable Flavor Flav. However, that could change in the not-so-distant future.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Chuck told RealStreetRadio. “This is the DJ curation performance unit of Public Enemy, and Public Enemy Radio really looks to combine the elements. Really, we present the elements of Hip Hop, and after having a unit like Public Enemy — which is the mothership of all of this — this is a component that comes out of that.
“And Jahi from PE 2.0., he was invited to be a part of Public Enemy years ago, but really, we feel this is the first time he’s going to achieve his shine after about four albums. Then myself and DJ Lord in tow, we’re coming off the heels of Prophets Of Rage and going back into Prophets Of Rage. So maybe next year, the big mothership Public Enemy will be all back together to tour.”
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EUROPE, Y’ALL READY???? I’M FOLLOWING FIRST 20 PEOPLE TO DROP A COMMENT 👇🏿, MAKE IT DOPE ✊🏿✊🏿✊🏿 #Repost @djlord ・・・ London, Manchester, Glasgow, Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki…I’ll see you soon alongside @mrchuckd_pe & @hiphopeducate The first Gods Of Rap show date is May 10th in London but I’ll also be rocking a few solo gigs/afterparties ⭐️May 9, 2019: Shoreditch Soho House London- (TOUR KICK OFF PARTY) ⭐️May 14 Pygmalion (Gods Of Rap afterparty) Dublin, Ireland ⭐️May 16, 2019: Amsterdam, Netherlands Soho House – AFTER SHOW ⭐️May 18: Berlin,Germany Soho House — AFTER SHOW See y’all there! #DjLORD #Europe #GodsOfRap #HipHop #PublicEnemy #PublicEnemyRadio #SohoHouse #TourLife
For Jahi, being on stage with Chuck is always a surreal experience. When he was growing up, Public Enemy was in constant rotation and that penchant for Hip Hop has always bled through in everything he does.
“We love what it is that we do,” Jahi said. “This Hip Hop culture is a lifestyle and as an MC, growing up listening to It Takes a Nation of Millions [To Hold Us Back] and Yo! Bum Rush The Show, it’s an honor to be able to rock these things live. So I’m really looking forward to feeding the people Hip Hop culture, stage rocking. I think Chuck and I approach the stage in the same way — we detonate.”
Lord followed up with, “Add hunger to that. We got a hunger for it and you can’t fake it.”
During rehearsal, Jahi grabbed the mic and ran through the elements of the culture — breaking, DJing, MCing and graffiti writing. In many ways, he feels it’s his duty to educate the younger generation on Hip Hop’s roots.
“In this technological age, these are still very ble human skills,” he said. “And if you understand the four elements, you can go anywhere in the world and set up shop. People may not even understand your language, but they understand the sound of a turntable.
“I remember when I was living overseas. I was in Berlin, watching these folks do a top-to-bottom and I was like, ‘How did you know about this?’ And they said, ‘Wild Style and Beat Street.’ And I was like, ‘Yo! Wild Style, Beat Street, Krush Groove.’ So it is a responsibility. But I think the other thing is, again, the human contact.”
When the Gods Of Rap Tour descends on London, which Chuck calls the “epicenter” of Public Enemy, fans of the group will bear witness to an entirely immersive and innovative experience.
“We’re inclined to enjoy the fruits of these future technologies — the LCD screens, phone technologies, social media and DJ software,” Chuck said. “We are traditional, but we’re also future, and that’s very important too, man, because these things can be used as toys or tools. The LCD screens have really set a different dynamic in Hip Hop. It’s helped it a lot. It helps artists that probably don’t perform that great yet and enhances them. We don’t use it as a crutch, but we’re going to see if we can possibly use them to their maximum potential and put out a mind blowing show.
“This is where Public Enemy Radio is a little different from Public Enemy. For our first show, we know we’re going to present something that they’ve never seen before. So we got to go in there with the songs of that place that made these songs legendary. Our goal and our mission on our first three dates, which is London, Manchester and Glasgow, is to leave some minds blown like, ‘I didn’t expect this.’”
Out of 4,162 Public Enemy shows (and Chuck swears by that number), there have actually been two times P.E. was forced to play without its fearless leader. One particular instance was during the infamous 1988 Run’s House Tour.
The tour — which also included Run-DMC, EPMD, J.J. Fad and DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince — was scheduled to appear in Omaha, Nebraska and Chuck was attempting to fly in from New York where he’d had a prior engagement. But things didn’t exactly work out as planned.
Public Enemy actually took the stage without Chuck while a member of his entourage stood in his place.
“Our position was usually third in the lineup,” he explained. “So it started out J.J. Fad, EPMD and then third, P.E. would play and then Will and Jeff would play between us and then Run-DMC to give it great contrast. So we’d go from hard Public Enemy and then down to party style. Because I’m going to tell you, Jazzy Jeff on the turntables and Will Smith rhyming forever — those dudes, they tore a house down in their own way.
“But in this particular case, I was going to get out there late and I told the tour manager at the time, ‘Look, have Will and Jeff go on in our slot this one time. I’ll get there in time to go right before Run.’ I knew I could get there in time. Sure enough, I get there, I get out of the cab, run through a cornfield, right? [Laughs] and get to the Omaha Music Hall. I see the dressing room and everybody’s getting dressed. I’m like, ‘What the hell? We ready to go on?’ They said, ‘We did the show.’ ‘I said, ‘How you do the show?’ This was before videos, so Mike Williams, one of the S1Ws, was able to pull the hat over his eyes and be inconspicuous.”
Considering Public Enemy’s career was just getting off the ground and there was no social media to spot the charade, before now, the legend of this story has only been privy to a select few.
“We were more like a mystery at the time,” he said. “Plus, you’re sitting there, you’re seeing Flav, you’re seeing the guy with the hat over his face and Terminator X, so a half an hour go by like that.”
One thing’s certain, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee will be at the helm during the Gods Of Rap Tour — just make sure you can see his face.