not a member? click here to sign up
Engaging With The Enemy
They’re among the world’s most influential hip hop groups – and one of the few modern rap acts with intelligent shit to say about the state of America. In an exclusive Hot Press public interview Public Enemy leader Chuck D. talks race, the emptiness of the bling-chasing lifestyle and why Barack Obama was destined to fail.
Roisin Dwyer, 09 Jan 2012
“Obama? Good man, bad government. It’s like having a great driver in a fucked-up car!” laughs Chuck D.
The Public Enemy legend is holding court in the Hot Press Chatroom at Electric Picnic. From Michael Jackson to U2 via the current state of hip hop, he is ready with an insightful opinion whatever the subject.
“He knew the car was fucked-up, he just thought he could make it work!” he continues. “But as soon as he got in and got under the hood they’re like, ‘Don’t touch that!’ Right now what the US government is doing in Africa is a goddamn shame. Especially to me, being ‘African-American’. What the fuck does that mean anyway? You can be Caucasian and live in Africa and then go to America and be African-American too. So I’m... BLACK!” (Much laughter from the crowd).
Public Enemy are arguably one of the most important hip hop bands in the world. Since the early ‘80s they’ve been a pivotal force in rap. Seminal albums like It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back and Fear Of A Black Planet changed the face of the genre, paving the way for an entire generation of politically conscious rhymers.
However, Chuck has voiced his concern about the direction of modern hip hop by posting a response to Kanye West and Jay-Z’s bling tribute video to Otis Redding on the web.
“It was a polite response!” he laughs almost defensively. “It was a salute to say, ‘I think those guys are the best in hip-hop but I think people are the most important thing in hip-hop. People are the most important thing in music and people are the most important thing in the world’.
“So you can’t show off what you have to people, I think it’s a bad policy,” he avers. “You just can’t say, ‘Okay, you made me big so therefore I’m going to spend the rest of my time showing off to you’. So my response was, you did a tribute to Otis so you should ‘try a little tenderness’ with the people out there, especially in the US. The US right now is going through a recession headed into a depression – and with black folks it’s a desperation.