Interview with Chuck D

PE has always spoken about the issues troubling our society. How do you feel those issues changed nowadays?

The issue is how we fit with the rest of the world. This country is still dealing with some of the same issues as we had some 25 or 20 years ago. There are a lot of people in this country who are considered the underclass and a lot of them are the black folks. Are we really gonna give a damn about that?

With the recent global commercialization of Hip Hop, do you feel that rap still represents the people or does it only represent people as consumers?

It represents the corporations and corporations represent people as consumers by any means. I believe there is just as much good music as before but now everything is made on the computer. People create music out of their own home and [become] out of touch with the world. And that is now considered being a rap artist.

You are currently working on Slam Jamz. Could you tell us more about that effort?

SlamJamz is what I call a XXI century recording label. We make CDs and DVDs and [make full use] of the MP3 technology so consumers can easily buy the music from their favorite artists. We really focus on the artists and make it so artists can be the best they can be.

Are you taking a more managerial approach toward music then, with your acts of Slam Jamz?

Of course. I take more of an entrepreneurial approach toward each of the artists and make sure that they can focus more on their own situation as an artist.

What are the new elements of Hip Hop that please you and who are your favorite new artists?

I think the changes for DJs have been very favorable. Extending importance of the DJs has been a big thing. Its not one of those things that DJs can be lazy just because they have the songs but allows DJs to go above and beyond and get the support they need. Also the MP3 technology made it a lot easier for the music, for Hip Hop.

Your hype man, Flava Flav took a very commercial route with his TV show. At the same time, PE has always represented the non-commercial tendencies. How did this come to be?

Well Flava Flav has always been Flava Flav. He’s always had a different approach. What that means as far as Public Enemy is concerned, Public Enemy is a reflection of the black people. The black community has all kinds of [tendencies]. There is only one of a kind Flava Flav thou.

You’ve put on close to 60 tours by now. Do you see performance retirement in your near future or will you rock the mike indefinitely?

Music is the universal language that keeps me going and I think that the most important thing for Public Enemy is that we don’t tour for the records. We tour for the people and for our message to be wider-spread.

With the general Hip Hop audience starving for the cheap commercial hits nowadays, do you feel PE is able to reach people on a global level in this day and age?

On a global level we reach people as a symbol, with our ideas and our messages. Locally we try to make people understand the rest of the world is open to rap music and Hip Hop and there is a mainstream. But the mainstream is corporate dominated.

If you were to make one suggestion to an average rap fan of today, what would it be?

Have a good sense of time, geography and history. It’s all about the learning process. It concerns everything in life and music. If it applies to geography and history in life it applies to music because music is a large part of life.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

If people want to check out what we’ve been doing they can go to www.publicenemy.com and see our words, message and news and also download the music.