Real Talk with Vish Khanna: Chuck D of Public Enemy
posted by Vish Khanna on Sep 05, 2012
At a truly amazing Toronto show, hip-hop legends Public Enemy poured
everything they had into a two-hour set that spanned their remarkable
career. Though he raps about being on the "senior circuit" on PE's
latest album, Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp,
52-year-old Chuck Dfed off the raw energy of the live rock band-PE
configuration and his manic partner in rhyme, 53-year-old Flavor
He ran around with the energy and hunger of a man half his age.
"I was inspired today by Run DMC in Pennsylvania," Chuck said in an
interview shortly after the show Sunday night. Earlier in the day, Run
DMC reunited for their first show since original member Jam Master Jay
was shot 10 years ago in what remains an unsolved homicide.
They were invited to play Jay-Z's inaugural Made in America festival
in Philadelphia, which Chuck had some choice words about, both onstage
at the Sound Academy and again in conversation. Even though he
respects Jay-Z, he said that for political reasons, he declined to
play at the festival.
"I know I'm made in America but I'm really made on the planet," he
told CBC Music. "I'm not made by America. So, we like to protest and
be difficult. But I salute them for bringing rap music to the
forefront and for Run DMC to get that slot."
One of the biggest highlights of Public Enemy's Toronto show was an
impromptu appearance by Canada's original king and queen of hip-hop,
Maestro Fresh Wes and Michie Mee. The Maestro dropped some amazing new
verses about being the "prime minister of hip-hop" that had the crowd,
D and Flavor Flav roaring. Michie Mee spit some rhymes, too, but was
really there to "bless" the night, as Chuck D graciously put it.
When asked to name a hallmark of Canadian hip-hop, Chuck D had a
succinct answer: honesty.
"There was a time where Toronto artists started out very honest
because hip-hop was honest," he explained. "Then, U.S. hip-hop was
backed by a certain point of view and those that were dissatisfied
with how they could not launch out of Canada and be more known, they
started to mimic the U.S. too much. Then they returned to their roots
of just being honest with it, and that's been a big thing for Canadian
Always outspoken, Chuck D's unflinching eye locks on Jay-Z and Kanye
West's Watch the Throne boasts on a recent song called "Catch the
Thrown." While hip-hop's golden age was about black empowerment, the
music is now breeding millionaires, seemingly out of the gate. It was
one thing to stand up for one's pride and self-respect and demand
more, it's quite another to vault up off of the streets from nothing
and tauntingly brag about one's wealth and becoming a one
"It's really very important that hip-hop and rap music supports the
people," Chuck D said. "'Catch the Thrown' is very obvious in the
lyrics. It's like who's gonna catch the people who are thrown at,
thrown under and thrown to the side? And ‘watching the throne' is a
little arrogant elitism that we've always shot down."
On Oct. 1, Public Enemy will release The Evil Empire of Everything, a
new LP the group describes as a fraternal twin toMost of My Heroes. It
features contributions from Ziggy Marley, Henry Rollins, Rage Against
the Machine's Tom Morello and others.
"It's really like an odd approach to music," Chuck D says of the
album. "I have this record called 'Everything,' which is like, if Otis
Redding could rap today, how would he sound? And then the song is
about people who swear that they have everything but really have
nothing, and people that have nothing but, if they look around, they
really have everything."
REAL TALK with VISH Khanna in Toronto (CLICK HERE)