Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review from the Archives: Onyx/Ice-T/Public Enemy at the Ritz, NYC 11/23/92

Long, hot, memorable, political show, the 90s version of what a Pistols/Clash double bill must have been. Onyx opened, ominously, with two female rappers joining them onstage. Their biggest hit with the crowd was the audience-participation hit Throw Ya Gunz. House of Pain followed, turning the venue into just that, doing to rap what Pat Boone did to R&B. As could be expected, the 90%-white audience loved them. Ice-T, however, was a blast, a razor-sharp intellect at work trying to galvanize white support for what amounts to nothing less than a revolution. As in dancehall, the trend in live rap is to truncate the songs so as to fit as many into the set as possible, and Ice-T did his best to oblige: Iceberg, Peel Their Caps Back, Drama and Word all received this treatment. Full length jams he did included O.G. Original Gangster, You Played Yourself, I Ain’t New to This and his closer, the theme from the movie New Jack Hustler. High point of the night: he asks the audience, “Am I up here to tell you to overthrow the government [sparse applause]? No. Am I trying to get you to go out and kill your mother [more applause]? No.  Do I want you to go out and kill a cop [massive appause]? No. We just wanna get butt naked and fuck!” he yelled, and proceeded with LGBNAF in its entirety.

Public Enemy followed with an exhausting and exhaustive performance, playing until both Chuck and Flav were hoarse and everybody was more than ready to head for the subway. Their set was mostly newer material, including a full-length version of I Gotta Do What I Gotta Do along with short versions of Night Train, Bring the Noise, Hit the Road Jack and Burn Hollywood Burn. They took the sound effects off several numbers including the controversial, excoriating Welcome to the Terrordome, the iconic Fight the Power and the murderously anti-redneck By the Time I Get to Arizona, giving Chuck’s lyrics the opportunity to strike with maximum impact. Chuck eventually tired and left things to Flav, who with clock on a chain around his neck provided 911 Is a Joke, Yo Nigga and NY Post. They finally closed the show after 2 AM with full-length if tired versions of Who Stole the Soul, Shut Em Down and Can’t Trust It. It was all that.

[postscript: who would have thought in 1992 that in fifteen years’ time, Ice-T would be best known not for singlehandedly inventing gangsta rap, but for his work as a tv and film actor typecast as an undercover cop! – ed.]

November 24, 2007 - Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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