the -+gt; Buzzz Bros. +lt;- present - { 20 Questions for Chuck D } Public Enemy's No. 1 Ra

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the -=*/> Buzzz Bros. <\*=- present *=-- --=* { 20 Questions for Chuck D } Public Enemy's No. 1 Raps about race, groupies and why he doesn't sing { his daughter to sleep } *=-- --=* *=-- --=* { A Playboy interview conducted by Bill Wyman } { Originally appearing in Playboy, November 1990 } *=-- --=* Text Entry By Major Havoc From it's inception, rap was one of the most potent musical forms of the Eighties. At its slightest, it was filled with sexual braggadocio, and almost obsessive self-absorption: The subject of most rap music was, in fact, rap music. But groups such as Grandmaster Flash and the furious Five, who recorded "The Message," and Kurtis Blow, who hit the charts with "The Breaks," demonstrated that rappers could be articulate and stridently political. Public Enemy's leader is the stentorian Chuck D, whose deep-voiced preaching is pitted against the chirpy tenor of his clownish co-rapper, Flavor Flav. The group enjoys muddy politics: To a core philosophy of black self-help, the band adds various strains of black radicalism, most pungent amoung them an admixture of uncritical Farrakhanism. Yet Public Enemy has achieved massive, cross-racial success, selling millions of records and filling arenas across the country. The band's third album, "Fear of a Black Planet," is, in addition to rap, riveting rock music. Chuck D was born Carlton Ridenhour 30 years ago. Bill Wyman spoke with him at Public Enemy headquarters on Long Island and at the offices of Def Jam Records in Manhattan. "The shouted slogans and ragged beats are for the stage and the studio," reports Wyman. "In person, Chuck is personable and quiet, with, as he puts it, 'a face to fit in.' It turns out that the fiery radical would rather talk about his family and his business than about politics: He and his partner and producer, Hank Shocklee, employ nearly 30 people; he's proud of the fact that they practice what they preach." -=*/> Question # 1. <\*=- PLAYBOY: Rap music can be jarring and harsh, almost antimusic. What sort of music was around the house when you were growing up? CHUCK D: My mother and father were record collectors. My pops was into jazz; to this day, I don't have a sharp liking for it, though I guess it's in me. My moms played all the soul. She'd play Al Green over and over and over - the same record, over and over again - and then Stevie Wonder over and over, and then Aretha, Aretha, Aretha. -=*/> Question # 2. <\*=- PLAYBOY: What was your road to rap? CHUCK D: I would go to clubs and check out the rappers, but it got to the point where they were using too much echo chamber and the words were muffled. I wanted to hear straight-out rhymes. I thought I could do a better job. And one day, I did. -=*/> Question # 3. <\*=- PLAYBOY: Your observations are of an artistic nature and they're being taken very seriously. Do you consider yourself a black leader now? CHUCK D: I'm a switchboard and a dispatcher of information. But I want to be in a a position to encourage black people to be leaders, and when you set some sort of exaple, you have to take on some of the responsibilty. There are about 30 people in our structure, and there's never going to be a situation where me and Hank are walking around like Donald Trump. Being a black leader is not just saying, "Well, I'm Nelson Mandela." A black leader takes care of his kids, endorses some sort of family structure and keeps his family together. I think my father is a black leader. Not many black males are men. We have boys who are sixty years old. What makes a man is accepting responsibilities and having a low tolerance for oppresing forces. -=*/> Question # 4. <\*=- PLAYBOY: What's the difference between Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan? CHUCK D: Michael Jordan's face isn't shifting. Michael Jackson you feel sorry for. Michael Jordan you don't feel sorry for, because he is doing exactly what he wants to do on his own terms. People are crossing over to -him-. Michael Jackson feels that he'll get more acceptance if he changes his face so it looks nicer to white people. He failed to understand that people liked him as he was, and motherfuckers don't like to see him with a lack of respect for what God gave him. Back in the early Eighties, Michael Jackson could have really changed the way white people looked at black people. It's not what's outside you. It's what's inside you. The music comes from within. -=*/> Question # 5. <\*=- PLAYBOY: What did Carlton Ridenhour do before he became Chuck D? CHUCK D: I was a messenger for a black company, delivering Government photos. The people who owned the place gave me a lot of inspiration, because it was netirely a black-owned operation, with a lot of white people working for it. I just loved working there. I wrote Yo! Bum Rush the Show [Public Enemy's first album] while I was there. Also, me and Flavor used to drive these U-Hauls for my father's business, and that was some trick. People in New York would crowd the street. But they wouldn't crowd the street when Flavor was driving. -=*/> Question # 6. <\*=- PLAYBOY: Can you explain Flavor's clock? CHUCK D: Back in '87, people were wearing those stop watches, and one day, one of the boys brought up this clock. I thought it was hype, and I started wearing a bigger clock. He just kept getting bigger and bigger clocks. I took my clocks off. -=*/> Question # 7. <\*=- PLAYBOY: You make some of the hardest rock records ever made - they're dissonant, loud and challenging. Does this approach make it difficult to get your message across? CHUCK D: One of our objectives is to uplift our race and rebuild the black structure, rebuild the black man and woman. A lot of us are hardheaded about it. But if I smack you on the head with this newspaper, you'll definately listen up. Bang! "Yeah! What's Up?" Rather than just me saying, "Yo, check this out." Originally, we wanted to make a record that would stand out from all the others sonically. We made our first single, Public Enemy No. 1, in December 1984. I liked that particular sample, but there was another consideration: We could monitor who was listening. My parents lived on the corner, and I could listen to what the cars were playing on their systems as they drove by. If you just heard a beat, it could be any record. But if it had the noise on it, then I knew they were playing the jam. -=*/> Question # 8. <\*=- PLAYBOY: In May 1989, your former band member Professor Griff announced that "Jews are responsible for the majority of wickedness that goes on across the globe." The predictable brouhaha ensued, you apologized and Griff ultimately left the group. Around that time, you played *(see note) a concert in Chicago, and you sought the advice of Louis Farrakhan. What did he say to you? CHUCK D: He said, Chuck, what you got to do is, you got to lead. And if it doesn't go your way, you've got to put your foot down. For the sake of being right against what's wrong. The Spike Lee movie [Do the Right Thing] came out, and the media were at the starting gate. I was trying to handle the internal situation [with Professor Griff], but if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would have told -him- to handle it, or else. -=*/> Question # 9. <\*=- PLAYBOY: Do you rap your daughter to sleep at night? CHUCK D: No, my daughter sings to me. Shit, I can't sing a lick. When I off stage, I can't rap, and I can't remember lyrics too well. I try to sing a little reggae to her. But he's singing off the radio already. She's into some other shit. -=*/> Question # 10. <\*=- PLAYBOY: How did you acquire your penchant for sloganeering? CHUCK D: It's our background in the black community. We always saw that black people bought shit that was not marketed to them. Corporate America does not understand this. If you want to sell to black America, all you got to do is sell to the whites. Black people don't seperate things into black and white; everything in the country is white. If we just said, We're only going to buy shit thats marketed to black people, we wouldn't have a fucking thing. [Holds coffee cup up] What, a mug for blacks? [Mocking] "I'm not going to buy Cheerios until I see a black logo on it." That's the background me and Hank had. We weren't selling Cheerios. -=*/> Question # 11. <\*=- PLAYBOY: What hero broke your heart? CHUCK D: Ralph Abernathy went out like a cold-ass wig. [Abernathy's book, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, contained a brief reference to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, last night, supposedly shared with at least two women, which provoked furor amoung black leaders. Abernathy died of a heart attack a few months later.] And it's sad to see people of that stature disappear with no tears. The things that happened on the inside should have stayed on the inside. It shouldn't have become public discussion, because it clouded Abernathy's objectives, and people wanted to dwell on those negative points. It's like with us: Public Enemy can talk about eighty positive things, but people will always dwell on the anti-semitism or racism from 1989. -=*/> Question # 12. <\*=- PLAYBOY: Public Enemy belittles gays in its lyrics. Isn't that a form of prejudice? CHUCK D: Not really. Like I sing in my song: "Man to man / I don't know if they can / From what I know / The parts don't fit." Love between two men shouldn't involve sex. People don't know what true love is - even a man and a woman shouldn't just say, I'm going to sex you out and that's going to be love. There are gays in the black community because black women are not being loved from the heart, and black men are feeling alienated. This causes people to withdraw from the normal man - woman relationships. -=*/> Question # 13. <\*=- PLAYBOY: What are Public Enemy groupies like compared with, say, Motley Crue groupies? CHUCK D: [Laughs] They're a lot neater. They're more correct, they got their heads together, they want to learn more. They're just happy that we're some brothers taking a stand. When we first came out, our whole thing was not to appeal to women. Every time a rap group would come along, they'd turn into sex symbols. I said that when I started Public Enemy, it was going to be the best group in the world, and I'd look out for the brothers first. Our program is to -rebuild- the black man so he's got respect for himself, and for the black woman too. You're not going to see us singing songs like [falsetto] "I love you baby, and let me get you in the back and sex you in the corner." Our song Revolutionary Generation is about true love for our sisters. If you have children, take care them. Help your sister out, help your community out by being a man leading that community. 'Cause our sisters have been holding the weight of the community for so long. -=*/> Question # 14. <\*=- PLAYBOY: The Professor Griff controversy sidelined Public Enemy for months. During the hullabaloo, you made the almost plaintative remark, "I was looking forward to spending a summer talking about Elvis Presley and John Wayne." You were referring to the calculated insults from Fight the Power: "Elvis is a hero to most / But he never meant shit to me, you see / Straight out racist that sucker was simple and plain / Motherfuck him and John Wayne." We'd like to give you the opportunity now to tell us what you have against Elvis. CHUCK D: Elvis' attitude toward blacks was that of people in the South at that particular time. The point of the song is not about Elvis so much, and it's not about people that idolize that motherfucker, like he made no errors and was never wrong. Elvis doesn't mean shit. White America's heros are different from black America's heros. John Wayne could go around in these movies and kill Indians and he was all right. But a black man like Louis Farrakhan comes out for the uplifting of black people wand whites pick at things and throw shit at him. The people I look up to are [Illinois Representative] Gus Savage, Farrakhan, Angela Davis, and even Jesse Jackson. Nat Turner - who went into Virginia and wreaked havoc on its oppressors - was righteous. You know who meant shit to me? Marcus Garvey. Marcus Garvery is -not- an American Icon. He was dogged by the American Government. You know what I'm saying? Not John Wayne. Not Elvis Presley. Not Marilyn Monroe. I give less than a -fuck- about those motherfuckers. -=*/> Question # 15. <\*=- PLAYBOY: One of the things Public Enemy does best is manipulate the media by making deliberately controversial statements. At the same time, there's a risk of going too far: Your account of the Griff contorversy in Welcome to the Terrordome started a new round of anti-Semitism charges against the group. Would you give us an explication of those lines? CHUCK D: A lot of times, I'll say something just to make people jump. Then I can say, "See, I caught you offside." I plan the dangers of it. This time, everyone was accusing me of bringing back Hitler's reasons for killing the Jews, something that I never heard of in my life. Now, out of one hundred lines in the song, they looked at four. The lines go like this: "Crucifixion ain't no fiction." I believe that Christ was a brother who got crucified. "So called - chosen frozen." That was my only reference to the Jewish community, which was appaled by the remarks in the Griff article. "Frozen" means stopped in their tracks. And I said "so-called chosen" because I don't think that one group of people are God's chosen people. "Apology made to whoever pleases." That's what I did in 1989 after all this happened. "Still they got me like Jesus." My whole point is that the media is still taking me out. And the response was, "Well, I don't believe it." What's your criteria for not believing me? A lot of people were mad because I put Griff back in the group after taking him out. But then again, it's my group, and this is the black community I live in. I could live down the block from this man, but that's not white America's concern. I said that this was wrong, and now let's move on. -=*/> Question # 16. <\*=- PLAYBOY: Once and for all, explian what seperates blacks and Jews today. CHUCK D: It's bullshit. No one in the black community gives a fuck about Jewish people. The issue with black people is when do I get paid, and why are these white motherfuckers fucking with me? Black people do not seperate Jews from gentiles. Really I don't understand it. -=*/> Question # 17. <\*=- PLAYBOY: You've said that you have no problem with whites; it's just "acting Caucasian" that causes problems. Are you using the word Caucasian in the same way some whites use the word nigger? CHUCK D: Historically, acting caucasian hasn't done one motherfucking positive thing for black people. If whites want to do something positive, they can realize that they're a small part of the human family and not the big part of it that they think they are, trying to convince the world that they are. -=*/> Question # 18. <\*=- PLAYBOY: Who can tell you you're full of shit? CHUCK D: [Laughs] Oh, shit, man, yeah! I got some parents who put me in my place. Hank will put me in my place. That's what happened last year. Hank said, Listen: Give a fuck. You're responsible for thirty motherfuckers. Family and structure are important. -=*/> Question # 19. <\*=- PLAYBOY: What is the proper target for black rage? Are you advocating hate? CHUCK D: Hate is not a nice word. You got to hate your oppressor, but you have to know who your oppressor is, and your oppressor is not an individual. It's a collective train of thought; it's a collective state of mind. You should hate that shit. But you shouldn't hate a person. Although, if that person claims that he is at the steering wheel of that force of oppression, then you make your move, you know what I'm saying? [Laughs] -=*/> Question # 20. <\*=- PLAYBOY: Arsenio Hall has not yet asked you to come on his show. How come? CHUCK D: Arsenio has a lot of pressure on him. He's got to please everybody, but at the same time, he has a black responsibility. He shouldn't be so scared to put us on. Public Enemy has a larger white audience than any of the rappers who have been on Arsenio's show. ___________________________________________ * Havoc's Note: (From Question # 8.) I was at that show in July of 1989. It was an outside show at Farrakhan's Nation Center. Myself, and the two others that I went with were the only whites there. I have to admit, we were treated with more respect than I got at the Grateful Dead show the same month. -=*/> Buzzz Bros. <\*=- To all racists, bigots, and those with hatred in your hearts: Gas Face Given ___________________ Special Thanks to: Lorraine Olivia (The Playmate of the Month - who happens to be from Chicago) ___________________ (c) MCMXC -=/*> Buzzz Bros. <\*=- X-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-X Another file downloaded from: The NIRVANAnet(tm) Seven & the Temple of the Screaming Electron Taipan Enigma 510/935-5845 Burn This Flag Zardoz 408/363-9766 realitycheck Poindexter Fortran 510/527-1662 Lies Unlimited Mick Freen 801/278-2699 The New Dork Sublime Biffnix 415/864-DORK The Shrine Rif Raf 206/794-6674 Planet Mirth Simon Jester 510/786-6560 "Raw Data for Raw Nerves" X-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-X

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