The four acts assembled for the Kings of the Mic tour are golden-age hip-hop star power, and a cross-section of everything rap had begun to encompass by the late '80s. Headliner LL Cool J (pictured) arrives supporting a multiplatinum catalog that stretches from the just-released Authentic to his iconic 1985 debut, Radio, and covers everything from R&B crossover jams for the ladies ("I Need Love," "Hey Lover") to some of the most devastating, career-ending dis tracks ever recorded ("Mama Said Knock You Out," "The Ripper Strikes Back"). Fellow Def Jam legends Public Enemy, who continue to release incendiary albums 25 years after the revolutionary It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, represent hip hop's social agitation in a country where even their oldest work is still relevant. Ice Cube, whose legacy of observant gangsta-steeped rage is one of the most influential in rap, represents the West Coast's early superpower status. And De La Soul are one of the crucial cornerstones of the Native Tongues movement, infusing the conscious-rap pantheon with one of its biggest doses of surreal humor and everyman humility. In 1993, this could've been the greatest hip-hop package tour of all time. In 2013? Actually, it's probably still up there, even with a glow of old-head nostalgia.
Thu., May 30, 7:30 p.m., 2013