Kings of the Mic Tour Featuring LL Cool J, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh and D

Mike Breen

The cross-country "Kings of the Mic" tour is technically an old-school Hip Hop exhibition, but the packaging of these particular artists — most of whom have been and remain vital and relevant today — makes it much more than just a 21st century version of an "oldies" revue.

And the fact that these artists' classic music still sounds so vital today makes it more than just some nostalgia trip.

Headliner LL Cool J was one of Rap's first superstars and, thanks in part to his acting/hosting career (and also his album releases), he remains a superstar to this day. Public Enemy's smart, socially and sonically progressive sound remains as fresh today as it did when the group released 1988's "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" — one of the greatest albums ever made.

Like P.E., De La Soul has remained artistically inventive and the trio's influence is often underestimated. Rounded out by a pair of even earlier influential performers — Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick — the Kings of the Mic tour's stop at Riverbend this Thursday is not just a history lesson, but the best party to start off your summer right.

INFO: 6:30 p.m. $18.50-$84.50. Riverbend, 6295 Kellogg Ave., California,

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