With his signature clock draped around his neck and catchphrases like, “Yeaaaaah boyeeeee,” Flavor Flav has been Public Enemy’s colorful hype man for over three decades. But what many may not realize is Flav is far more than that — he’s a self-taught musical prodigy and plays over a dozen instruments. During Public Enemy’s live shows, it’s not uncommon for him to jump on the bass, drums and guitar to show off his skills.
“I really feel people underestimate me,” Flav tells HipHopDX. “You know the only thing that keeps me overestimated is me keeping myself out there in front of people’s eyes and showing them that, ‘Yes, this is who I am and this is what I really do, and this is what I can do.’ I’m the best at it. And ain’t nobody in this business better at it than I.”
As Chuck tours the world with Prophets of Rage, Public Enemy is momentarily in limbo. As intertwined as the mismatched duo is, they’re in the middle of a rough patch following the lawsuit Flav recently filed against Chuck’s company BTNE, which is co-owned by The Bomb Squad’s Gary Rinaldo. But Flav insists it’s something they’ll overcome.
“That’s my partner, man,” he says. “Let me tell you something. Did you know the long road that we have been down together? And all of the things that we accomplished together? And not only that but way before Public Enemy, we were together, and we were hustling together and trying to get on top together. All of those days can never be taken away from us. You know what I’m saying? And I love my partner Chuck so much, man, that there’s nothing in this world that I won’t do for Chuck.
“But as years go on, all families have conflict, but usually they end up working it out, and moving on,” he continues. “So that’s the situation with me and my partner Chuck D, you know? It’s just a few wrinkles in the situation, but we can iron out these wrinkles and we can keep it moving. That’s all.”
Since starring on VH1’s reality shows The Surreal Life, Strange Love and Flavor of Love, Flav’s celebrity status reached a whole other level, far beyond Public Enemy. The 58-year-old Las Vegas transplant is preparing to step into the television spotlight once again with his new variety show, Flavor Flav’s Vegas. He’s recently launched a Kickstarter account to help fund the project.
“This is one of my dreams,” he says. “You know, to be a variety show and a talk show host. I had this vision since 2003. I never really got the chance to do it because of my scheduling, as far as with touring with Public Enemy and also the other TV shows that I had going on. It’s just my scheduling was very heavy, so it didn’t allow me to have the chance to do that. So, now being that Public Enemy, we’re not touring right now, we’re home right now and it’s also I’m not doing reality TV right now, so this gives me time to be able to reach out for my goals, to reach out for my dream. For the last 14 years I’ve been wanting to do this and God has blessed me with the time now to be able to put this thing together.”
With his roots firmly planted in faith, Flav is admittedly toning things down a little bit. For example, he normally does a huge fireworks show at his house in Vegas, but he opted to avoid getting arrested this year.
“I did fireworks this year, but not the way that I wanted to,” he explains. “I didn’t go and get arrested. Every time I do my fireworks shows and everything, the cops come around, and I get arrested and all of that. I don’t want all of that on the tabloids when I’m trying to do good and make positives steps on my path right now. You know what I’m saying? So that’s why I kept it kinda quiet this year, but yes, I did boom up some fireworks.”
While Flav will go down in the Hip Hop history books as one of the best hype men the world has ever seen and his success on reality television will always be tied to his name, fame is something he never really thinks about. To him, all the accolades and endless praise comes from just being Flav.
“My thing was just living day-to-day, doing what I do best, and giving people what they want, which is good entertainment and good television,” he says. “So, I mean, I was a little surprised by the stats, but then again, I wasn’t surprised because I know who I am and I know how society accepts me. So, it’s not like I expected it, but I had a feeling that I was gonna end up being big on television once I did hit television. I had a feeling.
“I know that I am famous,” he adds. “I know I am a big phenomenon to everybody. I’m a real big star to everybody, bigger than King Kong. But I’m not that size to myself. You know what I’m saying? That’s what kept me humble. I never really recognized my size.”