Public Enemy

Does Flav still have musical credibility?

Damon Hodge

The short answer: Hell to the no. When Flavor Flav was an energetic, bug-eyed hype man, the comedic yin to Chuck D’s politically astute yang, maybe. Maybe. But certainly not now. Flav (né William Jonathan Drayton) has devolved into a pop-cultural oddity, a modern-day Sambo whose philandering and jivin’ is aided, abetted and celebrated by reality television.

Flav’s 1999 solo album, It’s About Time, never got released, so we have no idea how such a project might sound. Would every track include his signature, “yeah, boyeee!”? Would he rap only about turning teeth gold, his Viking helmet and the Movado clock that hangs from his neck at all times, and could that really succeed commercially?

Flav’s on-camera look (a wardrobe that’s part pimp, part Oompa Loompa) and off-camera shenanigans (drug and domestic-violence arrests) have eroded his credibility. Had he shown any musical prowess since Public Enemy’s ’90s heyday, or offered even an inkling that politically conscious residue remains from that era, maybe I could see him as musically relevant. Maybe.

Public Enemy > Saturday, 5 p.m., Jokers Wild Stage.

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