New York crew Public Enemy are legendary within hip hop, and the members are all, individually, considered icons. From Chuck D with his scream rapping to Flava Flav and his clock chain. This being said, when rare footage of Public Enemy’s first-ever performance in the UK surfaced, old school hip hop heads were more than happy to watch and reminisce about what many deem the golden age.
In 2017, 30 years after it was filmed, footage from Public Enemy’s 1987 performance in London emerged on YouTube, showing members Chuck D and Flava Flav performing a medley of their greatest hits. The video is from the group’s ‘Def Jam Tour 87’ DVD. However, the show was also televised on BBC Two, showcasing the crew’s entire set. This is rare footage of their early live performances, especially considering the show was outside of the US.
In the video, the group are introduced by a young Dave Pearce to a roaring London crowd. Pearce hosted tours for many US hip hop groups during the 1980s, including Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, Mantronix and Afrika Bambaataa. Speaking to the raucous, rowdy fans, Pearce commenced, “Hammersmith Odeon, are you ready for the Def Jam tour?!! Let me hear you make some noise!! In concert for BBC Television tonight and Fresh Start To The Week (Radio London), let me hear you make some noise for Public Enemy.”
Disappearing into the shadows, with darkness setting in, the crowd begins to intensify as an extended air raid siren sounds. All of a sudden, the duo jump onto the stage and begin performing. The set opens with ‘Too Much Posse’, after which they transition to ‘Bring The Noise’. As well as Chuck D and Flava Flav, the group’s DJ, Terminator X, does a solo performance showing the crowd his scratch tricks.
The rare footage even features an iconic line from Chuck D, who, in a bid to rile the crowd even further, tells the crowd, “all the people that love the prime minister be quiet”, which of course, invoked a swell of screaming. The rapper then proceeded to declare, “all the people that love the queen be quiet”, which caused the same reaction.
25 minutes through the footage, Flava Flav begins to comically dance for the crowd as Chuck D tells the DJ to “Drop a beat for him to do his moves”. This rare footage is straight from the hip hop vault and is a true throwback to Public Enemy in their heyday. You can watch the full video of the crew below.