Chuck D Talks "By the Time I Get to Arizona" Art Project

Political activist and Public Enemy emcee, Chuck D, draws parallels between the group's 1991 hit and Arizona's immigration policy with a new art project.

In 1991, Public Enemy released “By the Time I Get to Arizona,” an outspoken critique of Arizona Senator John McCain and the state’s decision to no longer honor the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. The clip featured an attack on a public figure opposed to the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday and was subsequently banned by several media outlets. Nearly 20 years later, Arizona is making headlines for Senate Bill 1070, which was aimed at identifying, prosecuting and deporting illegal aliens. The state is also dealing with a violent shooting attack of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and several innocent bystanders.

Chuck recently collaborated with Ravi Dosaj—the artist responsible for RZA’s re-imagining of George Washington crossing the Delaware—on a limited run of commemorative art.

“My song was nominally about finger pointing in Arizona and the hypocrisies there, but it was as much about Reagan telling Gorbachev to ‘tear down that wall,’” Chuck explained to Jeff Weiss in the Los Angeles Times’ Pop & Hiss blog. “Really, what’s the difference between anti-immigration and anti-communism?”

Chuck says he became familiar with Dosaj’s work via the RZA piece. The Public Enemy front man also pointed to a long history of Arizona residents embracing a sort of manifest destiny mentality in regards to their territory. While Chuck was quick to point out all Arizona residents didn’t share that view, he did encourage more sharing of each other’s cultures.

The full Pop & Hiss interview is available at the Times’ official site. More information on the By the Time I Get to Arizona artwork, including an opportunity to pre-order the piece, is available at


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  • Milan Ray

    by the way, chuck d might be the most important lyricist of all hip hop in my opinion, so this isnt hating

  • Milan Ray

    appreciate the message, however this art piece is garbage. most hip hop tends to fail when meddling with non hip hop conventions. kanye did the whole art thing well for his album however. but this artists' work are tacky and would only be approved by tacky people

  • The Green Phantom

    “Really, what’s the difference between anti-immigration and anti-communism?” What kind of a moron and "ghetto junkie" would make a comment like that??

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, it's funny. I could show you 50 twenty something year olds who'd put Lil' Boosie ahead of Chuck in the lyrical department. For real. And people wonder why I'm an alcoholic. There's no hope for the future.

  • edubb1977

    Chuck D. always the righteous brotha!! SHUT EM DOWN CHUCK!! AND BY THE WAY A VERY UNDERRATED LYRICIST

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