Black Superheroes FTW…

roots picnic

^ His uzi weighs a ton!

Public Enemy is one of the biggest influences on me when I think of the musical soundscape that shaped my life. Ever since I heard that crazy Korg keyboard sample from P.E. #1, I have been a hardbody stan of their sonic superpowers. ‘Fear Of A Black Planet’ is my G.O.A.T. album in front of ‘Only Built For Cuban Links’, ‘By All Means Necessary’ and ‘Illmatic’ respectively.

There will never be another rap group that will have the influence on listeners, lawyers and litigators the way that Public Enemy did. They changed the music industry with their use of samples and soundbytes.

roots picnic

Public Enemy’s set at the Roots picnic was as epic as you might could have imagined. Chuck D, Flavor Flav, the S1W’s being held down by Black Thought and the Roots plus Antibalas. I nearly lost my frakkin’ mind. TERRENCE nearly lost his too. I’m glad we ended up deciding not to film anything at the concert. You can’t stan out 100 if you are working. This was the type of high energy set that you had to sing every word to. It’s strange and even somewhat poignant that the lyrics Chuck D spit over twenty years ago resonate today regarding those same issues.

roots picnic

P.E. was performing the entire album ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back’ with some added tracks like ‘Fight The Power’ for emphasis. They tore shit down. It wasn’t just the remarkable energy that Chuck D and Flavor brought with them to the stage but their clarity and showmanship. Nothing was more incredible than watching Flavor bound across the stage while reciting his track ‘Cold Lampin’ and NOT missing a verse. Flavor Flav is the greatest hypeman of all time. I would call him a weedcarrier but we all know that weed isn’t what gets Flav hyped.

roots picnic

Watching Chuck D and Black Thought on the same stage was literally symbolic in that the legendary hard rhymer was now passing the microphone to the legendary hard worker. Hip-Hop has never been more alive than at that moment. Everything else I experienced that entire day at the Roots picnic pales in comparison to the Public Enemy set featuring the Roots and Antibalas. I’m not sure if these bands will ever join forces again to present their omnipotent artistry, but if they do you had better be in the building.

Black superheroes unite!

roots picnic

Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • $ykotic

    Pierzy! Commission!

    • Pierzy

      What’s poppin’ $yk?!

      Yeah, I’ll take a well-deserved L on this one but grad school doesn’t wait for any man. As far as PE, I saw them in ’98 [2nd row] and they were amazing live. Flav coming out on a bike was classic and the S1W’s didn’t disappoint either.

      I’ll definitely be in attendance for Roots Picnic ’10

      • $ykotic

        I know that P. But you’re the Commission journalist for that area you claim. At least have an apprentice! Sheesh! lol

        And you better graduate!


  • $ykotic

    Now I would have loved to see this(Pierzy you get an L for missing out! Only today!).

    Penn I know you have footage. Got dudes drooling. This sounds like the Run’s House Tour they did @ Nassau Coliseum.

    Can someone give Black Thought his props now?

    • Azhar


      Black Thought been 1 of da best at it… i just wish he would’ve spazzed out on his own cd behind sum ill different beats… North philly stand up….roll up my nig!

      • $ykotic


        Got my turkey bag!

  • Jamal7Mile

    Props Dallas!

    I mos def understand why you didn’t record this one. I’ve been to a PE concert, too! Ain’t no way to get good shots with both hands in the air while jumping up and down, screaming, LOL!! The still pics are good, though. Great post!

    I saw that pic of Amanda Diva at She look goooooood!! Whew!

  • Ram Jam


    This is the greatest live act hip-hop has ever seen. I have witnessed them live no less than 7 times over the years and every set has MOVED me.


  • OG Matt Herbz

    Suuuuuuuuu! Amanda Diva is wifey-material straight up–yeah, even Herbz agrees.

    My main reason for not bumping old school Hip Hop is that it came along before production was (RZA)rected, (Pete)Rock’d up, or world (DJ) premiered. It’s hard to bump any music if the beat is wack. And while I can respect the MUSE SICK-N-HOUR MESS AGE, I just can’t roll with old school beats. It’s just not my era, mang.

    Sorry, B

    –OG Matt Herbz–


    “Flavor Flav is the greatest hypeman of all time. I would call him a weedcarrier but we all know that weed isn’t what gets Flav hyped.”
    aww man dp that is fucked up. funny as hell but fucked up. are they planning on doing this again next year?

  • geico lizard

    “Flavor Flav is the greatest hypeman of all time”

    co-sign.Spliff Star is coming for the crown whenever Flav retires(overdoses).


    • BIGNAT

      what about tony yayo he comes with his own dance hahahaha

  • Jamar Seay
  • Epinz

    Def woulda paid to b there! We don’t get that time of shit down here!

  • Max Profit

    Legendary Rap Crew! Pure Inspiration & Motivation

  • Tony Grand$


    As far as The Roots, man, I’ve always fucked with them, but I feel they really reached the upper eschalon of their fame with the Jimmy Fallon late night show. Them cats rock that shit, & they even get to show off some comedy chops. A whole different audience is meeting The Roots for the first time, & that shit is awesome to see them doing it big like any deserving band should be.

    Flav is what the “weed carrier” (or baggage handler, as I call them) used to be. A sidekick. Same for Spliff. Not just some random niggas who’ve been force fed your music, & make a living following you around holding various drugs & collecting groupies, but bonafide personalities capable of creating their own lane for which to navigate. Next to them, not quite as powerful as the leader, per se, but the “Nightwing” to “Batman” nonetheless. We love Flav, but damn that dude’s turned into a coon. Anything for a buck I guess. He should team-up with Coolio & do a reality show. Fuck what it’d be about; them two niggas together just seems like pure, uncut (no pun intended) hilarity.

    • $ykotic

      Never thought about that. Flav & Coolio.


      Wow. That’s ill.

      • Arcey

        careful with your words! a TI might be reading this

        • Tony Grand$

          @ $yk & Arcey

          Well, if it were to manifest magically, @ least I have two cats that can vouch for it being my idea………

          Hey, Paris P hasn’t dropped by to see his “way, way, way, way the fuck up” dream realized. Dudes missing his 15 mins of XXL shine.

    • El Tico Loco

      That had to be something, I’m even surprised there’s no oldhead rapper comments. I wish coulda made that trip even though I did see them before. Did the S1W’s show up too? lol


      • Jamal7Mile


        And we have a winner!! Haa ha!

  • Tony Grand$

    “Watching Chuck D and Black Thought on the same stage was literally symbolic in that the legendary hard rhymer was now passing the microphone to the legendary hard worker”

    That had to be fantastic to see in person……

    Fuck footage, if I couldn’t feel that vibe in person, I rather just hear the tales of the History as it occured.

  • http://xxl All Dae

    Black Thought is a legend.

    • oskamadison


  • EmCDL

    Dang another epic tale from DP about the picnic…I know that had to be one of the greatest collabs of all time with all them cats on the stage (well I don’t know who Antibalas is but from what you say they must be dope). I wouldn’t mind seeing PE on stage as well that would be sickness! I’m young but I still love their music.

  • DazzOne

    I got my issues with Black Thought. I think he got out spitted on a COUPLE of tracks on ‘Rising Down’.

    He’s great live I hear.

    I like The Roots but can’t think of one verse by Thought that just AMAZED the hell out of me. ‘Super Lyrical’-Pun OWND son. Proof you don’t have to rap about sheer stupidty reaching for shock like Em does and melt the mike.


    • Tony Grand$


      I thought he cam off a little lazy on “Rising Down” also.

      He should’ve went first, if that was the case. Mos killed, Styles killed.