How quaint: The most politically incendiary, sonically inventive rap group of its time now seems tiresomely retro. That’s the upshot of this offering from Public Enemy. Comprising a concert from New York’s Apollo Theater and four video clips, this 80-minute tape, Public Enemy: The Enemy Strikes…Live, confirms that the guys who once brought the noise have become decidedly old school. What’s worse, they seem to be running out of material, both musical (their new album, Greatest Misses, contains six new songs and six remixes of old ones) and rhetorical (exhorting an audience to chant ”I don’t wanna be called yo nigga” is hardly cutting edge).
While the videos for ”Hazy Shade of Criminal” and ”By the Time I Get to Arizona” showcase the raw, aggressive power PE is capable of, its live footage is anything but compelling. Even the kids packed into the Apollo look bored and listless, halfheartedly pumping their fists in the air only at PE leader Chuck D’s insistence. If this is the best that rap’s self-proclaimed Prophets of Rage can muster, we could be nearing the end of an era. C