Ice-T, Public Enemy on tour


By Zanny Begg

SYDNEY — Ice-T and Public Enemy are both known for their uncompromising political stance and hard-hitting, angry lyrics. From that standpoint, the thousands of people who shelled out $40 for a ticket at the packed Hordern Pavilion concert on Friday night got their money's worth.

And more. The crowd was loud, responsive and ready to rock the house. Both Ice-T and Public Enemy gave a high-energy performance that got the audience shouting out that they felt "damn good".

Ice-T focused mainly on the issue of black pride. He congratulated the largely white audience for appreciating "nigger" music. Approximately 60% of Ice-T's albums sell to white young people, which illustrates the resonance black anger has found. However, Ice-T did not put racism in any sort of context. The only solution that he offered to the problem was "suck my dick mother fucker".

The limitations of Ice-T's politics were revealed when sections of the audience began chanting "faggot" at a young boy who was pulled onto stage. Ice-T silenced the chanters by accusing them of not being real men because it takes a "faggot" to know one. Homophobia and sexism seemed to outweigh Ice-T's simplistic anti-racist message.

Public Enemy voiced a more sophisticated political message. Chuck D stated plainly that racism was a product of the corrupt political structures in society. He made a very direct link between the racism experienced by blacks in America and the situation for black Australians. Unlike Ice-T, Public Enemy talked about racial unity in "fighting the powers that be".

Public Enemy pointed the finger at the government of the United States for racist and exploitative policies. "The United States wants to be the cop of the world", Chuck D raged. "We say fuck the police."

However, like Ice-T, Public Enemy also expressed misogynist and sexist attitudes. Their politics, though sensitive to questions of black oppression and poverty, appear to be blind to questions of gender.

For rap fans the double bill of Ice-T and Public Enemy is an event not to be missed. Their high energy performances and angry rap will guarantee a huge crowd for the rest of their tour. Unfortunately, the political message that the audience takes home will be ambiguous. Our black sisters, as well as our black brothers, require liberation.