Chuck D believes that he and his group Public Enemy have been harassed by police more than any other act in music.
In a special segment for The Guardian, the frontman fielded questions from fans about his past experiences in the UK, his thoughts on the future of Hip Hop and more.
One fan wrote in to ask how much “police harassment and FBI intimidation” Public Enemy had been subjected to at the height of their popularity.
“I don’t know about intimidation, but, yeah, probably more than anybody in music,” Chuck D responded. “It’s nothing to be annoyed by. It’s what it is. The most I could do was to make songs about it. On Public Enemy’s first album, Yo! Bum Rush the Show, we said the governments are responsible. Governments plural because governments like to split up human beings, but music likes to unite people.
Considering Public Enemy’s legacy of activism both within music and beyond, other fans also sent in questions of a political nature.
When asked what it would take for “the US to become a more equal society,” the 62-year-old pointed again to the need for a solution that would factor the international political landscape instead.
“The whole world can move toward being a more equal society by bringing back the power of the United Nations,” he replied. “Social media and cellphones mean that cultures are all now all intertwined.”
He continued: “People know who I am through music and culture, so I’ve always followed up with a great appreciation for the difference between human beings. Governments like to split and categorize human beings, but culture and hip-hop unites human beings and throws the differences to the side.”
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Earlier this year, it was announced that Chuck D would be bringing a new four-part docu-series to PBS and the BBC in January examining how Hip Hop has influenced the world.
Fight The Power: How Hip Hop Changed The World tells the story of the genre as an “organic expression of experience that was unapologetic, fierce and empowering as it spoke truth to power and informed a nation through a different lens.”
The project, originally titled The Story of Hip-Hop with Chuck D, features commentary from Grandmaster Caz, Ice-T, Abiodun Oyewole (The Last Poets), Roxanne Shanté, Run-DMC, John Forté, will.i.am, MC Lyte, B-Real (Cypress Hill), Melle Mel, Fat Joe, Lupe Fiasco and more.
The title itself is a reference to Public Enemy’s 1989 single “Fight The Power” from the group’s third album Fear of a Black Planet.
“The Hip Hop community has, from the start, been doing what the rest of media is only now catching up to,” Chuck D said in a statement. “Long before any conglomerate realized it was time to wake up, Hip Hop had been speaking out and telling truths.”
He continued: “Working with PBS and BBC is an opportunity to deliver these messages through new ways and help explain hip hop’s place in history and hopefully inspire us all to take it further.”
Fight The Power: How Hip Hop Changed The World will be available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on BBC 2 in the UK on January 21 and on all PBS platforms starting January 31.