Photos and Review by Matthew Smith (Shadowboxer Photography)
Groundbreaking hip-hop artists LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, and De La Soul performed at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta on Thursday, June 5th, one of the stops on the Kings of the Mic Tour. Grammy award-winner and multi-platinum artist LL curated the lineup, saying he wanted to put together a bill the (now middle-aged) fans who grew up listening to him would appreciate.
After, unfortunately, missing De La Soul’s early and short set, Public Enemy kicked it off with Chuck D, DJ Lord, and a host of others playing instruments, dressed as drill sargents, and more. By the time Flavor Flav hit the stage, the crowd was getting warmed up quite well, with fists pumping in the air and heads bobbing. Noticeably absent was Flav’s clock necklace, which he promised not to take off until Public Enemy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which finally happened in April. He later donned the clock, trading lyrical spats with Chuck D on hits such as “Bring Tha Noize”, “Don’t Believe the Hype”, and “Fight the Power”, stopping once to dedicate the night’s set to Michael Jackson. DJ Lord stepped up to show his skills at one point, scratching a sample of the opening riff off Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, alternating hands and turntables furiously and then even reaching around and going behind his back.
After a quick set change, Ice Cube was joined onstage by WC, leading off with “Natural Born Killaz.” Among more gangster-style favorites, Cube performed some more danceable numbers such as “You Can Do It” and “Check Yo Self.” A highlight for me and much of the crowd was a cover of his former group N.W.A’s song “Straight Outta Compton”, which he sang while photos of the legendary and notorious Gangsta rap group were shown on the video screen behind him.
Last up was LL Cool J, who ascended to the stage on an elevator like contraption, wearing a red T-Shirt and a matching red NY Yankees ballcap. Between playing songs off his new album Authentic such as “Whaddup”, he pleased the crowd with favorites such as “Goin Back to Cali” and “Loungin (Who Do Ya Love)”, leaving nary a booty shaking. At times he invited women up on stage to dance around and with him as he performed, and during a cover of The Commodore’s “Brick House”, he invited women he dubbed “Brick Houses” to come up and join him. He solidified his ladies man status by passing out roses to women in the crowd at various points. Later he asked the crowd to sing “Ahh.. Ahh.. Ahh-Ahh”, the background vocal to “Mama Said Knock You Out” which began after a restart for the crowd to get it right, while the black-and-white boxing video played in the background. After being joined by Ludacris for a song, LL finished off the thoroughly pleased crowd with “Rock the Bells”, singing “That’s right, I’m on the mic with the help of the bells, There’s no delayin’ what I’m sayin’ as I’m rockin’ you well,” something I’m sure the audience would agree to with regards to all of the night’s performers.
Check out pictures from LL Cool J’s set below!