Chuck D Says Artists Like Kanye West Have Turned Hip-Hop Into a Disgrace

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“The journals and blogs and everyone threw hip-hop down the stairs by praising the individual and knocking aside the importance of the group,” Chuck D says in Billboard interview.

chuck-d-prophets-of-rage-2016-billboard-1548Prophets of Rage frontman Chuck D has often shared his ire and disappointment with hip-hop trends. In his latest critique against the latest chart-topping artists, Chuck sets his sights on self-aggrandizing artists like Kanye West. In an interview with Billboard, the “Fight the Power” lyricist said artists like Kanye have turned hip-hop into a disgrace.

“I don’t think anybody brings the power I do,” Chuck D states as he discusses MC skills with Billboard.

The Public Enemy frontman and Rock and Roll Hall Of Famer remains one of the most outspoken and thoughtful people in music. His legend is secure, but that hasn’t stopped him from facing new challenges. For America, times are tumultuous and terrifying, making the looming election seem more momentous than usual. Chuck D’s latest musical endeavor isn’t just a project or a creative outlet — it’s destiny, Billboard reports.

Rage Against The Machine’s guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk joined forces with Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Cypress Hill’s B-Real to form a supergroup called Prophets of Rage (referencing a Public Enemy song of the same name from the 1988 album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back).

When comparing rock and hip-hop in terms of groups and bands, Chuck stated, “The group was the only thing that made hip-hop even competitive to the rock world in the first place. But the minute that you started taking the DNA of the thing that worked, it’s the guy and the mic — the guy is Kanye and just Kanye and nothing else — it started shooting down hip-hop as being a legitimate genre and being more of a spectacle. I think it was a disgrace that individual came into the talk of the genre. So the whole thing of ‘Me, me, I, I’ has really brought it down to the point where people feel they have no power ’cause they’re not connected. Hard to bring it up as an individual — that’s why collectives work.”

Prophets of Rage take their name from a Public Enemy song, so there really was no way Chuck D couldn’t answer the call. The new group features PE turntablist DJ Lord, Cypress Hill MC B-Real and every member of Rage Against The Machine not named Zack de la Rocha. They’re all on a mission!

“I didn’t start this out as an 18-year-old. I already was grown when I wrote the songs and I understood great songwriters of the past,” Chuck D tells Billboard. “So I knew if I was gonna write something I was gonna have to live with it when I wrote it at 27, 28, 29 and 30. I wrote Fear Of A Black Planet based on a theory from a psychologist, so I was writing every word to resonate. I learned that when traveling to another country early in my career that “Fight the Power” could actually be used by the Serbs and the Croats looking for the freedom between them two as former Yugoslavians. So the Public Enemy songs are always in effect. The key is it’s not a long period of time anyway. Maybe in music terms, maybe in culture terms, but in real terms, 40, 50 years is not a long time. There’s been some significant changes; people are now at a 45-degree angle staring into their gadgets and phones and maybe that’s different. But it’s not a long period of time at all. So if they were pulling some bullshit in 1963, its effect could still be felt in 2016 in many ways. Many of the countries still have the same names and although it’s a different Bush, you have Bushes who are governors and ex-president Bushes that are still sitting around spewing their philosophies. As new Clintons come in and other ones watch over them, I tweeted this yesterday: “Those who choose to ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” You got a lot of things on repeat.”

AJ Woodson

AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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1 comment

Carlton Beckford Dozier June 23, 2016 at 10:39 PM

I think Chuck D is referring to Kanye West personal life, & media attention seeking self & in-laws. It overshadows his music. Back in the days nobody knew much about hip-hop artists personal lives, & they weren’t doing media seeking stunts & reality tv shows.


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