Gods of Rap: Passion, Politics and hard beats

glasgowcrowd

An enthusiastic Glasgow crowd interacted with the ‘Gods of Rap’

The line-up for this tour just had me excited from the get go. Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy and De La Soul for all playing British and European dates in one show. That had me hooked. Gods of Rap kicked off on May 10 at London’s SSE Wembley Arena. I caught up with it on the 12th in Glasgow.

The crowd was big and the joint was jumping as soon as the DJ started to play. By the time De La Soul hit the stage the crowd is suitably lively. I confess that I didn’t know much of De La Soul, or thought I didn’t. But somehow I knew some of the tracks from ‘3 Feet High and Rising’ which turned 30 earlier this year. Don’t know when I heard Me, Myself and I but I did. De La Soul deserve more recognition than they have. Their music is accomplished and versatile (as shown when the funked it up during this show) and they have a lot of humour in their lyrics.

djDuring the break between bands we were entertained by DJ Premier – and I do mean entertained. Yet there was a serious side too when he and the crowd (audience scarcely fits as there was so much interaction) honoured Phife Dogg, and Nipsey Hussle amongst others.

Then Public Enemy, or Public Enemy Radio, came on to the sound of air-raid warning sirens blaring with backing ‘dancers’ dressed in camouflage doing a military style drill. Now, I’ve been a big public enemy fan over many years. One of the things I admired about them was their forthright political message. At the time it’s fair to say that I saw them as my Black Nationalist brothers who saw through a system aimed at putting them down. As a Nationalist from here in the UK I saw them as people from a different culture and tradition who had arrived as similar truths – “brothers of the same mind, unblind”. Their radical message and powerful beat reached out to me. I was delighted that Chuck D still had both the edge and the music. A true OG! Now I don’t know if his comments on Brexit and Scottish Independence are right although his view on sectarianism (there had been a Rangers v Celtic game earlier) and the ineptitude of our Tory government certainly are. But what really impressed me was that after all these years he still has passion, energy and hasn’t sold out. Fight the Power and Don’t Believe the Hype are as relevant and powerful today as when they were written – 1989 and 1988. The crowd was energised by Chuck D and you would certainly never believe that he was approaching 60!

Follow that! Wu-Tang Clan did with an incredible 30-song set-list which just vibrated with energy and passion. This wasn’t just a celebration of ’36 Chambers’ material (which reached a 25 year anniversary recently), it was much wider than that. You certainly got your money’s worth with this show!

Some have sniped at the tour. Thomas Hobbs in the Guardian said: “the tour feels more like a museum exhibit than a chance to truly replicate the frenetic energy that made each of these groups so thrilling”. He dismissed it as a “nostalgia trip”. It is far more than that, as the fans know, because it is powerful music addressing real issues. In the words of Public Enemy: “False media, we don’t need it do we?”. Go catch this tour!

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

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