When Jay-Z was still hustlin’, Public Enemy blew away a crowd more used to guitars and wailing. This text below is from a 2008 article in the Observer about the gig by Chucky D:
My memory of playing Reading was trying to rip it to shreds. I knew we were the first hip hop act to headline a major UK festival. Bring it on! We would have welcomed someone saying they didn’t want us, like Noel Gallagher said about Jay-Z at Glastonbury, cos that just gives us more reasons to tear it up. When we first started a lot of people said rap couldn’t cut it live and we wanted to prove that turntables, microphones and stage gymnastics could be just as energetic as banging a guitar.
We were the first rap group to be able to handle festivals; we’d toured with Anthrax in 1991 and that helped us understand stage intensity. I’d heard Reading was a heavy metal festival but what we had was heavier than metal, we had heavy mental. Plus we had Flavor Flav, he could get away with anything, he’s a wild card, the only person in hip hop who’s never been imitated, the greatest hype man ever.
If anyone said anything about us they said it really quiet. There’s always something with Public Enemy. People say Jay-Z is the Rolling Stones of rap, but he’s more like Bowie or maybe Rod Stewart. Run DMC are the Beatles, Kanye West is Elton John and Kool Keith is Frank Zappa. I don’t know whether Flav is Mick Jagger or Keith Richards, but we’re definitely the Rolling Stones of rap.
Power and speed, that’s the way it goes. That’s what ‘Bring The Noise’ was about, us saying, if you consider us noise then we’re going to bring it, harder than you can take. We knew there was a contingent that was going to do their thing and there were enough of them to convince everybody else they could get off on the rebellion and the power and the noise. I saw a bunch of whirlpools in the crowd at Reading, we were the first rap group that ever had a mosh pit. It wasn’t about Public Enemy, it was about us standing up for rap music.