Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 3rd record, Fear of a Black Planet, Public Enemy brought the noize to SF’s Yoshis this past weekend. It just so happened to be Martin Luther King’s birthday weekend. Back in 1991, the band’s fourth release, Apocolypse ’91…The Enemy Strikes Back, addressed the fact that some US states did not recognize MLK’s birthday as a national holiday (in the song “By the Time I Get to Arizona”). That same song is now being used to rally people against the current racist immigration policies in that state, and is even more timely given the recent shootings there. Coincidences? Not for Public Enemy. They knew it then, and they are still fighting the powers that be. Chuck D, Flavor Flav and Professor Griff were all in attendance, and joined by a very hot band. They nailed all the hits and the crowd, heavy with middle aged white guys, was loving every minute of it. Chuck sported an Oscar Grant t-shirt. Flav took off a jacket to reveal his big clock.

Inspired by the band’s passion, I managed to sneak backstage to pay my respects. The 2nd show at 10pm was sold out, and the door man was doing everything he could to shoo me out. In desperation, I asked Flav if I might be able to stay for the last set. After a long dramatic pause, as if I was on his reality show begging for another date, he granted me permission to stay and I was ushered right back in. Thanks again Flavor!

The second set was even higher energy than the first with lots of booty shaking going on. Chuck and Flavor were both preaching peace and they got everyone’s hands in the air: a middle finger against racism, and a peace sign for “the only race….the human race”. Amen.