Leaders of hip-hop


POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009

No crowd gets treated like a “;small crowd”; by Public Enemy. They're far too professional for that.

PE rocked a full house at the old Aloha Tower concert hall and delivered one of 1988's best shows. They worked just as hard, and were just as impressive, in front of an embarrassingly sparse turnout nearly 20 years later during the “;Hawaii Hip-Hop Festival”; at Kapiolani Community College. The group — Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff and the S1Ws — performed as if the crowd numbered in the millions.

It was, to quote a colleague, “;The best hip-hop concert of 2005 that nobody saw.”;

“;We don't short anybody. We look at the quality of the audience, not the quantity,”; Chuck said when the subject came up last week. He was having a busy day — he politely excused himself twice to take other calls — but the quality of the conversation was as high as ever.

Chuck D always has something interesting to say.

        With Public Enemy, MC Lyte and DJ Ready Red
        » Where: Pipeline Cafe, 805 Pohukaina St.
        » When: 8 p.m. tomorrow
        » Cost: $35 general admission, $80 VIP
        » Info: 589-1999 or hsblinks.com/15t

It's been more than two decades since PE broke nationally with “;Yo! Bum Rush the Show”; and then followed it with three more landmark albums — “;It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,”; “;Fear of a Black Planet”; and “;Apocalypse '91 ... The Enemy Strikes Black.”; The group made history as the first to release a full-length album of political hip-hop, as pioneers with Anthrax in the creation of “;rap metal,”; and as one of the first groups of any genre to release download-only digital albums.

Flavor Flav has enjoyed a high-profile career in recent years in reality television. Professor Griff, PE's minister of information and head of the S1Ws, recently published a book, “;Analytixz,”; that is available at http://www.publicenemy.com.

Chuck leads the group on two projects that position them again as music industry pioneers. They're embracing a new financing model with their next album via SellaBand, a program in which fans invest in the project for $25 and, in return, receive a numbered CD plus a cut of all net revenue. The deal is being offered to the first 1,000 people who sign up.

“;It's a whole new revenue model on the raising of funds (to record),”; he explained. “;It's a model that I've been working with because it's been successful in Europe and Asia, and we're making it more noteworthy (in the United States) by using Public Enemy as a model underneath that structure.”;

The group could produce the album “;in house”; for download-only release, he continued, but wanted to draw attention to SellaBand for the benefit of new acts who want to do physical releases.

“;We have four studios and we can just stay in house to record our albums and then go right to iTunes and the Internet and be flexible like that, but in the model of doing physical records, we feel that this record could be made using the SellaBand model — and also maybe make every single song a collaboration. That's something that the old record companies would have financed before, and took care of all the red tape, but we have a revenue model that will be able to do that.”;

Looking to their back catalog and the early days of hip-hop, Chuck is also working with a recently launched Web site, http://www.hiphopgods.com.

“;I was impressed by the way that 'Classic Rock' radio handled its genre in the mid-'70s, and we felt that a lot of artists who have participated in the first half of the 30 years of recorded rap music (deserve the same recognition),”; he said. “;Now that they're on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, it's all over the place, (but) this portal kind of ties all of that together.”;

On the Net:
» www.sellaband.com