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Rappin' with the Enemy

The culture clash never happened.

An appearance by the controversial black rap group Public Enemy on Friday's Ron & Ron program, rock station WYNF's top-rated morning show, was good for a few yuks but veered away from the fireworks some had anticipated.

That's mostly because Chuck D., Public Enemy's scowling, socially conscious half, couldn't make it. He may have taken offense at some of the morning duo's verbal jabs about rap and black stereotypes.

Flavor Flav, Public Enemy's funny, lighthearted side, did show. He spewed forth a stream of street talk and rhymes that could best be described as hip-hop meets Muhammad Ali. He took phone calls from fans and foes alike. Ron Bennington commented a couple of times, off microphone, that Flav (pronounced "Flave") was a funny guy.

Public Enemy opens for U2 tonight at Tampa Stadium.

The 33-year-old Flav strolled into the studio about 7:45 a.m. wearing a bright, multicolored warm-up suit and gray Mad Hatter hat. One of his trademark big clocks hung around his neck. He had a ring for each finger and a watch for each wrist. His teeth were paved with gold.

On Thursday, Ron & Ron did a sustained build-up for the Public Enemy appearance _ and took a few shots, suggesting that they might go to a local jewelry store and buy the rappers some thick gold chains, and hinting that there might be trouble with PE's bodyguards. (In fact, there was only one bodyguard and he sat silently out in the lobby.)

Sparks flew a bit when Flav chided Ron Diaz for not playing Public Enemy music. After interrogating the rapper on which songs might be profanity-free enough to put on the air, he cued up Shut Em Down, a busy funk-rap tune. Diaz began to fade the song out after a couple of minutes, but Flav insisted that he play the entire track. A few seconds later Diaz began to fade the song again, asking, "What do you mean by "Shut Em Down?' What is it that you want to shut down?"

Flav shot back, "Shut up, man, play the song out!" Diaz retorted, "You shut up, this is my show!," but let the tune conclude anyway. It wasn't really a tense exchange _ more like good-natured sparring.

As the show drew to a close, Flav said in a mock whimper, "It's over? I don't wanna go." Then let out an exalted yell, "I was rockin' on a rock station!"