Chuck D sat down with The Real Hip-Hop to talk about his new solo album, The Black in Man, whose title was inspired by Johnny Cash’s identity as “The Man In Black.” It is his third solo album, following 1996’s The Autobiography of Mistachuck and 2010’s, digital-only Don’t Rhyme for the Sake of Riddlin’, which he says was ahead of the times.
“It wasn’t an understood format – now it is,” the Public Enemy emcee says.
“We dared to make records that people would hate,” he says. “We would twist it until they ended up loving it. We never really looked to see if anybody would love our shit. We ain’t never make a move for popular things – at least that’s the Public Enemy program.”
He says that Ice Cube took a page out of their playbook when he made his hit song “The Nigga You Love to Hate.” Chuck D says that Bomb Squad member Eric Sadling laughed at the song at first.
“But that’s all people talk about nowadays,” the emcee says. “Not how much they’re loved, but how much people hate ‘em.”
Chuck D Discusses Lynching Klansman In Effigy On Stage
Chuck D also talks about touring back in the day and remembers lynching a Klansman in effigy on a Public Enemy tour in 1990. He says that Public Enemy wanted to do it two years earlier, when the group was on tour with Run-DMC. Jam Master Jay wouldn’t let them do it.
“I remember being at the Philly Spectrum and it wasn’t a heated discussion,” Chuck D says. “It was more of a philosophical difference. I was like, ‘But yo, this is our set,’ and he said, ‘But this is our tour’ (laughs). Jay is my man. He was really a dude in charge and I love him to death, man. It really straightened me out ‘cause Jay said, ‘Y’all do it on your tour,’ which was two years later. I wanted to hang ‘em in 1988 and Jay’s explanation was, ‘We’re going to places like Albany, Georgia where you have people who are in the Klan. They could be people that work in the arena or with the crew and they could just not really hang a light right and a light stanchion will come down on your head. You gotta be weary of that.’”
Chuck D says he understood Jay’s point and admires his character.
“If anything, we miss Jam Master Jay for his leadership and humility more than anything,” he says.
He says that the one thing he misses most about Hip Hop today is those collaborative tours.
“You came in the door and left more excited than when you came in,” Chuck D says. “I don’t think today’s acts leave that because I don’t think that’s emphasized. I know when you came into a Hip Hop tour in the late ’80s you left better than you came in as a fan.”
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