We know him variously as a hip-hop pioneer, a hyperactive court jester, a cringe-worthy reality TV star and a future talk show host, but last night, Flavor Flav wore all his hats for a 50th birthday bash to remember at BB Kings in Times Square, New York. To mark the occasion, Public Enemy elected to play the entirety of their seminal 1988 album It Takes A Nation Of Million To Hold Us Back for the first time in New York.
A host of hip-hop luminaries turned out to pay their respects to Flavor’s colorful career, including DJ Kool Herc (whose Bronx house parties in the 1970s are frequently cited as being the birth of hip-hop), Eric B, and a particularly sharply dressed Melle Mel of Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductees the Furious Five, who duetted with Flav on a verse of the legendary 1982 single “The Message.” Original gangster rapper turned Law And Order: Special Victims Unit star Ice T also tossed out some of his own lyrics over an interlude of Flavor’s drumming before adding his vocal input to PE tracks such as “Night Of The Living Bassheads.” Flav also added his heartfelt gratitude to Ice T for not beating him up when the Public Enemy man crashed the OG’s Ferrari in the late 1980s. It was quite the family affair too, as Flavor took several opportunities during the night to French kiss his very pregnant wife Liz onstage, much to Chuck D’s obvious befuddlement.
After powering through Nation of Millions, Number 48 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, Public Enemy’s set concluded with a run through of classics such as “Shut ‘Em Down,” “Public Enemy No.1” and “Fight The Power” before Flav rounded off the thoroughly entertaining two-and-a-half-hour show with a list of thank yous that would have dwarfed even the most overwrought of Oscar acceptance speeches.
Public Enemy are set to appear on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon tonight, where they will play “Bring the Noise” with house band the Roots. The Philly hip-hop group are also set to back PE later in the year when they embark on further U.S. dates to perform the entirety of It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, including the Roots’ June 6th picnic.