On Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday this past weekend, Public Enemy (PE) frontman Chuck D teamed up with Skid Row activist and former Hip-Hop producer, General Jeff, to present the first ever “Occupy Skid Row” Music Festival.
Occupy Skid Row was a festival, not a concert. Onlookers were reminded of this countless times by Chuck D of Public Enemy throughout the positive evening, which took place on the outskirts of Downtown Los Angeles. It was a festival about more than the music, as the message was to raise awareness of the ever-growing and notorious homeless rate in the L.A. area. Festival goers were reminded constantly that after the show was over, the pervasive poverty in “Skid Row” would still be there:
And yet, this did not stop PE from rocking the crowd – a crowd that was anxious and supportive, yet only a few feet away, as the stage was literally on the street, smack dab in the middle of Skid Row. Performing cuts like “Bring The Noise”, “Fight The Power”, “By The Time I Get To Arizona”, and “911 is a Joke”, the anti-establishment tone was set, emphatically.
Eager to show the crowd that they were human, too, Flavor Flav and Chuck D, along with the rest of the PE crew, reached out in support local acts and movements. Originally, the last act on the bill, PE performed first; demonstrating that it was not about them, but about shedding light on hometown performers and issues. Not that they needed to stick around and perform throughout anyway; as the radical tone had been set with their brief showing.
After PE rocked the crowd, the stage was then set for X-Clan’s own Brother J, who took the crowd through a groovy experience with “Heed The Word Of The Brother,” and then finished off with the all-time classic, “Grand Verbalizer.” At the finale of his set, Brother J gave a touching tribute to his former partner and mentor, Professor X, by leading the crowd with their “This is protected by the Red, Black and Green” signature line.
Members of the Skid Row community were also given the chance to share their unfortunate experiences onstage and show their appreciation for programs such as LA CAN, which donates time and resources to provide for the area’s homeless.
Although he’s from New York, Chuck D offered the Southern California crowd a history lesson in L.A. Hip-Hop, as he introduced blasts from the pasts such as Kid Frost and Yo-Yo. Frost, who recently recovered from a mild stroke, took everybody back to 1990 as he performed his classic Hispanic anthem, “La Raza.” Yo-Yo trasported the crowd back to the early ’90s with “The Bonnie and Clyde Theme” minus Ice Cube, along with her breakout single, “You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo.” Longtime friend and fellow Lench Mob member Sir Jinx backed Yo-Yo on the wheels of steel.
Check out the event photos below and come back tomorrow for Part 2 of AllHiphop.com’s recap from Occupy Skid Row!
Lady of Rage and her lookalike daughter