Promoting peace and togetherness, The Art of Rap Festival streamed through the Hollywood Palladium for a night fresh beats, rhymes and unity.
Old school hip hop’s artist, Busy Bee came out and got the crowd fired up. He had a simple obbessage that rang throughout the night: “peace love and unity is the culture of hip hop.” He even went on to share that “there are no bitches and hos in hip hop, there are only women— single mothers, nurses, wives, girlfriends, etc.” His warm words received a hearty applause, especially when he laid down the all-time truth: “rap is something we do, hip hop is something we live”. Throughout the night Busy Bee kept things light and positive and told some stories about the old school days of hip hop. It was quite inspiring.
Headlining The Art of Rap Festival was none other than Public Enemy. The influential rap group started their set with a sweet tribute to prince by guitarist Khari Wynn playing a piece of “Purple Rain” then Chuck D came out and got the show going.
Flavor Flav busted out all decked in red, with his shirt sporting a Warner Brothers logo that read: “If you see da police, warn a brotha.” It was a clever and very fitting statement considering all the injustices that have been plaguing African Americans of the late.
Whipping out that extra Flavor Flav flavor, the eccentric rapper also slapped the bass a bit and he was actually quite good. I have never seen Flavor Flav play an instrument, so that was pretty refreshing to see. Flavor Flav tore it up with style and flair. He even shared a new song that he performed on his own with DJ Lord backing him up on the ones and twos. It was fresh!
They played everything that you would have wanted to hear which was awesome, “911 is a Joke,” “Welcome to the Terrordome,” “Brothas Gonna Work it out,” and of course, Public Enemy ended the night with the iconic rap song, “Fight the Power.” And like clockwork, Ice-T showed up on stage while they performed the classic Public Enemy number.
Towards the end of their set, Flavor Fav closed with a very positive message. He said there was only two things that he hated and that was racism and separatism.
“All this shit has gotta stop, no matter what race we come from, no matter what religion we study, no matter what part of the world we live in, at the end of the day we are all god’s children and we should all stick together and build a wall of unity.”
Then he asked for everyone to raise their fists in the air and yell; “Fuck Racism, fuck Separatism!” Flavor Flav then asked the crowd to put this sign up in the air (peace sign) as he shared, “I want this for everyone.” The crowd yelled back, “Peace! Peace and togetherness!”
Other notable performance included EPMD, who rocked the Palladium just before Public Enemy took the stage. It seemed as though this was an act that the fans were waiting for. The crowd just lit up as EPMD took to stage. They gave a pretty remarkable performance, and their DJ was straight off the hook.
Ice-T’s performance started off rocky. His DJ was having a hard time supplying the beat, but eventually got the sounds going. Ice-T came out and Coco was standing side stage mouthing all the lyrics. At one point, Ice said to the crowd, “you are all my niggaz, it doesn’t matter who you are, black, white, brown, everyone is a nigga to a nigga.” The famed rapper-turned-actor was laying down a powerful set that unfortunately lost its thunder once the audio cut out during “Colors.” At this point, Ice-T was over it and threw the mic down and walked off stage. I could not blame him for that considering the sound issues throughout the night.
Also laying down the fierce performances was Mobb Deep and classic old school rapper Kurtis Blow. Blow put on a show that came right off the streets of New York. With breakdancers and all, it was quite the thrilling set.
The Art of Rap Festival was a great night that expressed unity in a time where racial divisions are on the rise. However, this show brought out black, white, brown and Asian fans. They all came together to listen to the music they love, all with fists in the air to “fight the powers that be.”
Words & Photography: Wes Marsala
Written for Grimy Goods, July 25, 2016