Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation:
The First London Invasion Tour 1987
Sound: B- Extras: B- Main Programs: B-
It is with some irony that Public Enemy – It Takes A
Nation: The First London Invasion Tour 1987 comes to DVD at a time when Rap
is in such deep trouble as an art form.
Here is one of the greatest groups the genre ever had, in peak form,
expanding in their first trip in the United Kingdom, where post-modern R&B
has had a uniquely influential and interesting result in British Electronica
and turntablists that tend to be as creative as anywhere in the world.
Chuck D, Flava Flav and the crew are loaded with energy
and ideas in their peak, many of which seem challenging and makes one wonder
what happened with their “revolution”.
The band was at the peak of their creative, subversive, dynamic and
commercial powers, two years away from more exposure in Spike Lee’s landmark Do
The Right Thing and its stunning opening credits. This is what Hip Hop is really all about, less bling-bling and
more kinetic power and action. The
documentary part is dubbed a “movie” and plays only 48:29, while the concert is
an even shorter 36:06, though it packs in quite a performance. The songs include:
1) Too Much
3) My Uzi
Weighs A Ton
Without A Pause
Gonna Get Yours
Seeing this was bittersweet because it reminds us about
the promise Hip Hop once had before the bling-bling burnout, that like Rock
music before it, some key social change might have been possible, despite the
militant/separatist tone of the band and its many songs. This was the legitimate outgrowth of Hip
Hops roots. Maybe it is time to turn
back Flav’s oversized necklace clock and pick up where all this left off. This DVD offers enough material to make that
trip back possible.
The letterboxed 1.78 X 1 videotaped image throughout shows
its age, but the source material is consistent nevertheless, though the
pastiness makes this an average presentation visually overall. Dolby Digital 5.1 is only on the “movie”
documentary part, while the rest of the audio is Dolby 2.0 Stereo, aged as it
might be. Expect mixed sonics at best. Extras include an Australian segment running
6:48, 1:34 stills gallery set to music and audio commentary by Chuck D himself
that was better than expected, coming from a well-spoken innovator to begin
with. The question is, do Hip Hop fans
and artists today consider this “old school” or not? Maybe they ought to consider this a missed lesson. It could not hurt.
- Nicholas Sheffo