Public Enemy's Chuck D: Yeah, I voted in the 2012 election

Categories: Q&A
Photo by Piero F. Giunti

Did you vote, and were you hesitant to do so?

Yes, I voted. I have no hesitation. People have died and struggled, black people especially, for the right to air their views in this country. I have a lot of issues that this country needs to deal with, but I don't think me being invisible or having a protest that's disjointed necessarily helps that process.

How does it feel to reach the group's 25th anniversary?

I grew up as a sports fan, so I respect tenure. It does mean a lot. I feel good about my team. Whenever my team can get awarded, why wouldn't I feel good about that? I wouldn't necessarily go around and say "This is great for me." I feel good for people like Griff and Flavor and Terminator and DJ Lord and Hank Shocklee. It's great for our art form.

Tell me what this expression "classic hip-hop" means.

I was inspired by what they did with classic rock back in the '70s and '80s. To separate the Led Zeppelins and the Beatles from the Bostons and the Framptons of the time. Classic rock is a different thing, so that's why we call it classic hip-hop -- we don't call it old-school.

So it's about taking control of history. And the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination could help a lot.

If it wasn't for Public Enemy's international travel, and our profile, would we be around 25 years just dependent on the United States to cover us? Hell no. I want to see this thing for my peers that we have for ourselves. Since we're nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, if a light shines on us, we're going to shine it back at the genre. Whether we're elected in or not, we're a force to be reckoned with.

Guns 'N Roses didn't seem to think too much of it.

They're within a genre that's organized. We're within a genre where the infrastructure's been fractured and taken over by corporations. Any rock group exists within an organized genre. The cats in Guns 'N Roses can say, "Well this doesn't mean shit because there's so many other rock cats who it does mean shit to." In the case of Grandmaster Flash in 2007, Run DMC in 2009, and last year with the Beastie Boys, this doesn't just speak for the artists, it speaks for the genre. People say hip-hop is dead because there are so many areas that have been neglected, used, and abused that anything we can do to revitalize is important.

Gods of Hip Hop Tour: Public Enemy. With X-Clan, Monie Love, Schoolly D, Leaders of the New School, Wise Intelligent, Son of Bazerk & No Self Control, Awesome Dre, Davy DMX, and Johnny Juice. 18+, $25, 8 p.m. at First Avenue. Click here.

Chuck D also hopes to make a special appearance at Brother Ali's Occupy Homes anniversary event, which begins at 5 p.m. Details here.

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