Posted in music | pictures on June 8, 2009

photos by Tim Griffin

Public Enemy
Public Enemy

"The marquee event [at this year's Roots Picnic - June 6, 2009 in Philly] was Public Enemy's performance of their epochal 1988 album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, performed for only the third - and, they have said, the last - time on American soil, and the first time with a band.

Public Enemy's Chuck D famously called rap music African Americans' CNN, an analogy that bodes ill for the exhumation of a 20-year-old album. But fueled by an expanded Roots lineup that included a horn section from the Brooklyn-based Afrobeat orchestra Antibalas, Nation sounded like anything but old news. Chuck D's stentorian voice has lost none of its power to command, and Flavor Flav washed away years of reality-TV embarrassment, seeming more like a sharp-witted jester than a fool.

Rather than approximating Nation's sonic thicket, the Roots added melody and depth. The prison-riot saga "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" gained a funk guitar riff and blaring horns, with ?uestlove's snare hits ringing out like rifle shots.
[Philadelpha Inquirer]

The also performed the album at the 2008 Pitchfork Festival. More pictures from Saturday's show, below...

The Roots Picnic 2009

The Roots Picnic 2009


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Comments (31)

That sounds like a dope show. I wish PE would perform Nation in the NYC area soon.

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 1:09 PM

Flavor Flav!!

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 1:12 PM

PE performed Nation at BB Kings for Flava Flav's 50th birthday party... was fantastic, so I can only imagine the addition of the Roots and horns would be killer.

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 1:23 PM

wow no this was by far the worst part of an otherwise pretty great day of music. awfulawfulawful

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 1:43 PM

how were tv on the radio/black keys/etc?

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 1:45 PM

^^^ anon 1:43. you obviously were not there. this was truly the highlight of the picnic on pavement. black keys were great too. santigold should give up . . . snooze-fest.

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 1:57 PM

No one SHREDS like the Roots!!!

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 2:03 PM

Annon 1:38

Fuck you.

This is the 3rd race related comment in a day or so.

Am I just noticing it now (always been like this on BV) or is this an uptick?

Such a disgrace and sersiously destroys what remaining credibility this website has/had.

Posted by Burg | June 8, 2009 2:05 PM

This performance was really tremendous.

Anyone else still in shock from seeing two New Kids on the Block on stage with The Roots to start the show?

Posted by mp77 | June 8, 2009 2:05 PM

check this out. a ton more photos from the show here: http://www.phrequency.com/blog/Roots_Picnic_Wrap-up.html

Posted by Steve | June 8, 2009 2:07 PM

Cool...hey how come Flava Flavs clock shows noon on every picture! I feel cheated that he wears it just for show and it is not a working clock!

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 2:09 PM

Sounds exciting. Then again, I've seen PE live about five times in the last ten years and only one of those shows wasn't completely mailed-in. Here's hoping they've rediscovered a bit of their early-career passion, because the rhyming over a pre-recorded track schtick was getting old.

Posted by Super-Extra | June 8, 2009 2:14 PM

I am not shocked. The new kids SHRED!

Posted by Donnie | June 8, 2009 2:17 PM

The "shred" guy needs to shred his wrists...lame.

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 2:40 PM

2:09 - he forgot to change the batteries. It is a real working clock, once you put those AA's in...

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 2:49 PM

PHISH SHREDS

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 2:50 PM

Flav shreds your world!

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 2:51 PM

The only person who shreads is Shredder. Now go play with your toys and leave the corny comments to the professionals.

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 3:09 PM

The Shred army is bigger than the Meh army! SHredding cannot be stopped.

Posted by SHREDDER | June 8, 2009 3:15 PM

Flav's clock look like it was bought from a dollar store, yo.

Posted by white guy pretending to be black | June 8, 2009 3:24 PM

In addition to the horns, Antibalas' guitarist and drummer were part of the show as well.

Posted by Anonymous | June 8, 2009 5:56 PM

at least the militant guards were wearing ear plugs.

Posted by Anonymous | June 9, 2009 11:34 AM

the black keys equipment was messed up- the lead singer even said 'i had a nightmare like this once' b/c first his mic went and then his amp... tv on the radio killed it! but after that long PE performance, most people in the audience were just ready to leave... it was a long day

Posted by Anonymous | June 9, 2009 11:37 AM

Awesome show. PE was great. Contrary to what some other sites said they were backed by Roots AND Antibalas. (Roots dont have a horn section ..duh)
I dont know why TV on the radio and Black keys were on the bill. They totally seemed like they got lost on the way to the Vans warped tour or something.
But thats just my jaded opinion.
Uptight people in NYC, round trip on a jitney was only $20. Nothing compared to the $50 ticket right!

Posted by calaverasgrande | June 13, 2009 6:41 AM

very nice post... thanks!

Posted by Blue Eyes | June 28, 2009 8:09 PM

I find the correlation between rap music and news comical. I do wish well for Public Enemy and Flavor Flav, however. I don't care who does it. I want to see hip-hop revived once more.

Posted by Free Internet Advertising | July 12, 2009 2:06 AM

hi
wow no this was by far the worst part of an otherwise pretty great day of music.

Posted by Online Pharmacy | October 30, 2009 1:13 PM

This performance was really tremendous.

The only person who shreads is Shredder.

Posted by Wheels for Sale | December 27, 2009 3:21 PM

This performance was really tremendous.

Anyone else still in shock from seeing two New Kids on the Block on stage with The Roots to start the show?

Posted by rapidshare | February 12, 2010 1:35 PM

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