Is Made In America just a glorified street party with big talent designed to sell a lot of beer? Or a mass gathering capable of generating political content and - dare we say it - protest music?
When Public Enemy is on stage, the latter. In what started off as a farcical set, with Flavor Flav talking over Emeli Sande singing acorss the way, turned into a wildly entertaining, completely serious affair over the course of a never dull hour long set on the Rocky stage on Saturday afternoon.
For starters, Flavor Flav called for justice for Trayvon Martin, called out Pennsylvania Governer Tom Corbett for shortchanging Philadelphia schools before "Bring The Noise" and thanked the crowd for "making me the #1 reality TV star in America."
"Move as a team, never move alone," Chuck D. rapped on "Welcome To The Terrordome." Flav played bass on that song, and drums after brought onstage Philadelphia original gangsta rapper Schooly D - who was introduced as "the Mayor of Philadelphia" - for "PSK, What Does It Mean?"
The agit-rap hip-hop legends, who were backed by a full band and DJ, as well as their dancers / security forces, the S1Ws, demonstrated themselves to be well aware of where they were. No cheese steak patter here.
Instead, while ranging musically throughout their career and recreating live the dense "Bomb Squad" sonic attack that marked them for greatness in the late 1980s and early 1990s, they called for the release of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal and zeroed in on the issues of underfunded Philadelphia schools. "Stop building prisons, build more schools," Chuck demanded before "Show Em What You Got."
He also brought Heather Marcus, a counselor at J.R. Masterman School to speak out against cutbacks. Chuck himself pledged that Public Enemy would donate a portion of their Made in America earnings to aid Philadelphia public schools, and challenged other MIA artist to also do so.