Published Jan 05, 2011While Public Enemy MC Chuck D is one of rap's most historical figures, having had a hand in shaping hip-hop's landscape through classic LPs like Fear of a Black Planet, the political rhymer has his fair share of beefs with what he sees transpiring within the hip-hop community. Such is the case in a recent letter to AllHipHop, which finds D picking apart the pitfalls of the rap game.
Though hip-hop's biggest stars tend to come from the United States, D figures that the rest of the world has surpassed the land of liberty in all of rap's fundamental skills. He believes that U.S. artists are all show.
"As far as RAP and HIP-HOP, it's like USA Olympic basketball, the world has parity now and have surpassed the USA in ALL of the basic fundamentals of HIP-HOP -- TURNTABLISM, BREAKING, GRAFFITI, and now EMCEEING with succinct mission, meaning and skill," the all-caps-loving D writes. "Skill-wise rappers spitting three languages, have created super rappers to move the crowd with intensity and passion. The 'arrogant' American comes in blackface, but if there was a HIP-HOP or Rap Olympics, I really don't think the United States would get Gold, Silver or Brass or even ass for that sake."
Other targets of the prolific Public Enemy member include the hip-hop media outlets that glorify the worst parts of the genre's culture. D blasts the fact that rap news has become no better than grocery store tabloids, fixating on a rapper's faults and criminal activity more than their recorded work.
"HIP-HOP NEWS spreads like any other mainstream NEWS in America," he continues. "The garbage that's unfit to print has now floated on websites and blogs like shit. For example a rapper working in the community gets obscured while if that same rapper robbed a gas station he'd get top coverage and be labelled a 'rapper' while getting his upcoming or current music somewhat put on blast, regardless of its quality, which of course is subjective like any other art. RAP sites and blogs are mimicking the New York POST."
With rap music so deeply engrained in the mainstream's consciousness, D believes it's the hip-hop community's responsibility to take care of itself and its fans. While this doesn't necessarily mean monetarily, the rapper wants his fellow spitters to consider what they rhyme about, as their words can influence their fan base. He wants MCs to rhyme for the greater good, not for the biggest cheque.
"Since the music has so much power, and image has become everything to the point that it can dictate the direction of a person in their life, it is my mission now to really become a 'freedom fighter' and stop this radiation. With Jay-Z and others who, for years would faint their worth, the statement of 'with great power comes great responsibility,' is more true. Words are powerful and they can both start wars and bring peace. This cannot be taken lightly. Its important for the words to be body with the community. If not one dime of $250 million doesn't benefit the people who contribute to it then why does that warrant coverage above the will and effort of many in the music who have done great things? Never have so many been pimped by so few."
Whether or not he will alter North America's perception of rap music remains to be seen, but no matter what, Chuck D continues to fight the powers that be.