Growing up I was the biggest Public Enemy fan in the world. A geeky 6th grader obssessed with Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Terminator X, Professor Griff, Harry Allen, The Bomb Squad and the S1W’s. As a student of MTV in the 1980′s, I dug all the pop music stuff, but the hair band shit that was popular at the time never really resonated with me. Sure, I owned Van Halen’s Diver Down on 8-Track, but it in itself was a hand me down. Don’t get me wrong, I loved watching videos of all kinds of music all day long (MTV used to stand for “Music Television”, in which they would show these “music videos” all day long), but never enough to go out and buy a cassette tape. Then one day a certain video changed my life.
“Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos” told the story of how Chuck D, political prisoner, choose jail over going to war for a country that didn’t care about him. And once inside, he instigated a prison riot, while the rest of Public Enemy broke him out. There I stood, wide-eyed and white – this was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen. Fuck James Bond, the coolest action hero in my 12 year old existence was Chuck D.
Soon I was hooked, doing some back-peddling and catching up on all the stuff I missed while 9, 10, and 11, and getting my hands on anything I could. I even found a t-shirt shop in the pre-Hot Topic era that specialized in rap merchandise, and could prove how down I was to the rest of the public school kids, with t-shirts featuring Public Enemy, Ice-T, Ice Cube, and Da Lench Mob. Yeah, probably not a hot idea for a blue-eyed white boy like myself to rock a Lench Mob logo featuring angry fists holding nooses and torches. But what did I know. I remember being at a basketball game as a fresh-faced kid wearing my P.E. t-shirt and this Black dude looked at me and said “Whutchu know about Public Enemy?” and shook his head. Little did he know, I knew everything.
So back in around maybe ’98, Rap Sheet was holding a conference in Atlanta. HipHopSite co-founder Warren Peace and I were invited to speak on the new internet hip-hop revolution, which we were helping spearhead at the time with this very website. Public Enemy was performing and both Warren and I were geeked to see them live. I’d already seen them once before on tour with U2, but this was going to be the first time I’d seen them up close in a small venue.
That day, Warren and I are sitting in our hotel room and Warren runs down to the lobby for a second. He comes back in the room, and he’s like “I just ran into Chuck D in the elevator” and I’m like “oh shit!”, wishing I had went down with him. So later in the evening we decide to order food directly to the room, and the only way to get a pizza is to have it delivered to the hotel from an outside source. The only place open was Domino’s – and being an Italian, I usually would not settle for this – but we were in a foreign land, so hey. So the lobby calls up to the room, telling me to come down because my pizza is here.
I get down to the lobby and I see the Domino’s guy just standing there looking all nervous, shaking his head saying, “I can’t, I can’t!” There’s all these hip-hop heads staring at him and I’m like ‘what are they looking at??’. I get close to him and I realize Flavor Flav is trying to get dude to give him my pizza! He’s literally going “Megablast” on him, like “Please give me a slice. C’mon man, just one…C’moooooon”. I realize this as it’s happening and I am paying the dude. He gives me the pizza. Flavor looks at me. I look at Flav. I’m shell shocked, star struck. The whole room is looking at me. Here I am, face to face with perhaps one of the biggest idols of my childhood and I can’t even get the words out. “Maaaaaaaaaaan,” Flav grimaces, turns around and walks off. There I am standing there, with shitty pizza in my hand and a lost opportunity to cold lamp and share it with Flavor Flav. The end.
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