Walking into the Target Center to hear the Kings of the Mic tour, 3 security guards ran by saying concernedly “it was either a knife or an iPad”. You’d think those 2 things would be easy to tell apart, but more importantly, it perfectly describes what the Kings (and their fans) were, and are now.
First up, De La Soul, who did their damnedest to warm up the still skeletal crowd. Continually asking the crowd, “is the party over here” the 3 members seemed to be begging for the crowd to prove, that yes, the party was in fact, here. The only problem was, there were very few areas to point to, where enough people were sitting to constitute a party. If you were just looking at the front of the floor section things looked good, but as soon as you looked up, you realized how few people were there. De La Soul whipped through a quick 30 minute set, ending on their most notable hit, “Me Myself and I”.
After a quick stage changeover, Public Enemy took the stage. Chuck D and crew filled the tiny stage, which included a couple of guys in fatigues, a drummer, bassist, guitarist, DJ, and a couple guys to just stand there, because why not. A few moments later Flavor Flav came bounding on stage to join the crew. You wouldn’t know these guys were in their 50s the way they were bouncing around the stage while running through hits like “911 is a Joke”, “Don’t Believe the Hype,” and “Welcome to the Terrordome”. Although, with the size of the stage, a couple of times it looked like they were going to trip over one another. In the 30 minutes they were on stage, they managed to avoid any major collisions and deliver an entertaining set.
The show jumped up a few levels when Ice Cube took the stage. Cube has changed a lot since his days in NWA, putting out family movies and doing Coors Light commercials, but that wasn’t who showed up this night. Taking a detour from the basketball shorts and t-shirt uniform of the previous 2 groups, Cube was dressed more gangsta appropriate, headband and all. Over the next hour he performed not only his own hits, but also a medley of his verses from NWA songs all against a backdrop of the corresponding music videos, concluding on “It Was a Good Day”. The only non-gangsta portion of the show was the dual inflatable ‘W’ hands which added a little campy flavor to the end of the set.
DJ Z-Trip popped up and ran us through a variety of hip hop samples before LL Cool J finally arrived, rising up from the back of the stage. Further differentiating himself from the other Kings of the Mic, LL was performing solo for the night. If you were a lady, you most likely really enjoyed his hour long show. After all, LL passed our at least a couple dozen roses to lucky ladies in the audience, even inviting a fan on stage to do a little bump and grind. He touched on every part of his extensive catalog, again leaning on some of the softer, lady friendly songs. LL even brought out Chuck D to help out during one of his new songs. Later, during “Big Ole Butt”, Slug from Atmosphere made an appearance “representing for y’all”, which was amazing for the Minneapolis audience.
Twenty-plus years ago, seeing these very same artists, you may have been concerned for your safety, but the only concern during this show, it seemed, was getting a picture with your smart device of choice. Even with the disappointing turnout, the Kings of the Mic still brought their A-game and put on an impressive show that made you feel like you were back in high school.