Rapper speaks on hip-hop issues, TV

By Gus Bode

Not much stops Chuck D. from speaking his mind. Not tornado warnings. Not the flooding basement where he continued a portion of his lecture. And especially not the two-hour time limit Shryock Auditorium provided the former Public Enemy rapper.

“These things usually last up to seven hours,” Chuck D. said.

Within a half hour of Chuck D.’s lecture Saturday evening, sirens alerted Jackson County of the possibility of tornados in the area. This unexpected change of events caused the speaker and about 80 fans to move into the basement of Shyrock Auditorium where Chuck D. proceeded to speak.

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Although the creeping water covering the basement floor caused many of the attendants to stand for an hour before returning to the auditorium, many said the disruption had little consequence on the quality of the lecture. Chuck D. has been speaking to college campuses for more than a decade, and he said he lectures at about 50 schools a semester. The discussion tackled several issues and topics such as the current state of hip-hop music, race in music, the Internet and MP3s and reality television.

“A lot of people in America flock to television for reality,” Chuck D. said. “Don’t follow TV for anything. That isn’t real. Seek information in the point of reality that gives you a place to jump off.”

Chuck D. said he enjoys speaking to college campuses because he enjoys the interaction and participation he encourages. He said his experience in the music industry is something he likes to share with young musicians who believe there are shortcuts to success in the industry.

“You get to elaborate when you speak,” Chuck D. said. “You also have to know who you’re speaking with. I am dealing with third-generation MTV viewers.”

Chuck D. is an advocate of file sharing and Internet-based music. He runs Rapstation.com, a website dedicated to promoting and expanding hip-hop music by promoting up-and-coming and unconventional artists. He said the Internet will help people and hip-hop music and its listeners open their minds to new forms of the music, including international sounds.

“It’s an introduction to that person becoming a fan,” Chuck D. said. “They want to know, ‘Where can I get more?’ There is nothing faster than an MP3. You cut it, and one hour later, it is out there. You have to be open to new ways and methods.”

Chuck D. also offered advice to those interested in becoming hip-hop artists or working in the music industry. He said new artists should be unique and avoid sounding similar to what is in mainstream hip-hop today.

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“It is important for independent and ‘Inter-pendent’ labels to come up with the money and know where to put it,” Chuck D. said. “You have to set up the tools so you can set up your niche. It’s a beautiful way for artists to get their thing put down.”

Chuck D. said there are several new genres and types of music to come in the near future, but the key to exposing the public to the works of these artists is breaking stereotypes.

“There is an environment out there where the older kids have a different mindset,” Chuck D. said. “They just show black faces in major labels. Radio should support hometown talent.”

Chuck D. will continue to be the host of a political talk show, “Unfiltered,” broadcasting with the liberal radio network Air America. His future plans include releasing two new records as well as reissuing Public Enemy material via the Internet. Chuck is also awaiting the publishing of his book later this year. He said anyone can enjoy success as long as they remember there are no shortcuts to the top.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of music you’re doing; it’s the process it takes to get your music heard,” Chuck D. said.

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