|Interview by Will Hernandez
WHO?MAG: Talk to me about your label SlamJamz?
CHUCK D: The thing about SlamJamz is it is a label I put together. It was a whole dream of how Motown and Stacks would put together performing artists that would really want to able perform, get grabbed, and making sure that maybe in this country we cop our regions. That really has a global approach to it. The idea on the regular will grab 35 to 45 countries. I really want to be able to look at an artist base that we have as a label and break them across the world as opposed to breaking them in the US. We would take the US, but the amount of red tape and political action on getting on the airwaves is that intense though. There are other places to actually cry a rooster.
WHO?MAG: Talk to me about the new album New Whirl Order?
CHUCK D: New Whirl Order is almost like saying the world is in a ball of confusion like the old Temptations record. Governments are the cancers of civilization. There are things that governments don’t want the average person to see, feel, or hear. Really they satisfy their population with things that people could get kind of away with treating less that how they’re supposed to be treated.
WHO?MAG: How did you get with Paris’s label Guerrilla Funk for the Rebirth of a Nation project?
CHUCK D: I’ve known Paris for quite a long time. We see a similar interest and I just thought that I had just recorded two albums: New Whirl Order and How Do You Sell Soul to a Soulless People that Sold their Soul that will be coming out next year. Paris came along with a concept at the end of 2002. That he wanted to produce and write a Public Enemy album. We had talked about it. He had put it together. It was 2 to 3 year process. He took me into the studio and we knocked it out.
WHO?MAG: You were involved in a documentary called Bling. Can you talk about your involvement in that?
CHUCK D: Kareem Eduard. He’s really conscious of the fact of trying to figure out what direction the streets are going. He really looked deep into the matter and saw the atrocities that are taking place in Africa. Many of the things that are being said are kind of out of sight out of mind. He connected Africa right on to the streets of hip hop. You know Black folks like to wear jewelry kind of looked at from both sides of the jewelry game: whether somebody’s getting stuck up for it or somebody’s getting forced to work in the mines over in Africa.
There’s a business of crime that affects us as a people before it even gets to the counter. He addressed that.
WHO?MAG: How hard is it reach the hip hop kids of today of the plight of the child workers in West Africa?
CHUCK D: I don’t know. All I know is hip hop has to able to define itself and be more balanced and the balance might be enough to make somebody realize that there is a little bit more that jewelry.
WHO?MAG: In your opinion Chuck what’s the biggest problem in hip hop and what is your solution for it?
CHUCK D: The biggest problem is not so much with the artist, but the biggest problem is the balance of airplay and the amount of respect outside the world of hip hop. When it comes down to radio play and when it comes down to saying who’s videos. I think those areas respect to big white corporate businesses more than they respect the art form and that’s a problem. I think more Americans and especially those in hip hop need to get a passport and become more worldly. It’ll make your discussions and see things a whole lot clearer.
WHO?MAG: I’ve been having this question on my mind for a longtime and people wanted me to ask you as well. What happened to Terminator X and why did he leave the group?
CHUCK D: Terminator retired in 1999 because he wanted to go through his situation and slow it down. He didn’t leave because of any rough feelings. He left because it was time for him to leave. Of course we didn’t want him to go, but DJ Lord has been there 7 years and is world turntablist fitting in a whole different other way with smoother adjustments than many.
WHO?MAG: What is your take on bootlegging and MP3’s?
CHUCK D: Well bootlegging and MP3’s for the longest served almost doing the jobs the radio stations should have did. That’s why people picked up bootleg anyway because they don’t want to be tricked on in the stores. Picking up something for $17 and knowing they can pick it up for $5 and have better chance of being less burnt. The Mp3’s are the new 45’s. Anyway you can give those away and make somebody go and get the album. Then something has to be able to be the worm that catches the bird.
WHO?MAG: I always wanted to know why did P.E. leave Def Jam back in 1998?
CHUCK D: We just felt our philosophies were going into two different areas. They were going into bigger corporate type of ideologues and I didn’t really want to be part of that world. I was from building something from the grassroots, scratch, and build it up. Make it so you integrate it with a lot of new minds and new energy.
WHO?MAG: I get the newsletter every couple of months from Hank Shocklee’s (head of the Bomb Squad: P.E’s production team) company Shocklee Ent. In one it said you guys were working together on a project. Can you talk about it?
CHUCK D: Hank is putting together the Public Enemy box set and hopefully in 2007 we get some legal type knocked out of the way. We can actually put out the P.E. box set and also the remastered versions of Fear of a Black Planet and It Takes a Nation. It’ll be through Universal and in a combination of SlamJamz and Shocklee music.
WHO?MAG: Speaking of Fear of a Black Planet. How was the process of working on that record to up the ante of the last one?
CHUCK D: Well you know the whole key is if you follow baseball, you come with a 95 mile an hour fast ball. Fear of a Black Planet was a curve ball it catches you looking. (laughs) The whole key is not going anywhere where It Takes a Nation went. That was the key of Fear of a Black Planet, not trying to do or repeat anything you did with that other record. Public Enemy’s whole meaning throughout our years was never to make two records alike back to back. Of course it would always go head and shoulders behind people’s imagination. Like they couldn’t comprehend that, but later on, they understood it with groups like Outkast was known for that. Public Enemy we came along and said “Well, the minute you like this type of thing, you’re not going to get it next time around because we just going somewhere else with it.” We were known to do that.
WHO?MAG: What has been your most memorable moment of all your years of touring?
CHUCK D: I’ve had a lot. I would say being in front of the pyramids in Egypt was a great high point, but I’ve had so many. Being in every continent is an enjoyable process.
WHO?MAG: What happened to those two side projects/groups you were working with Confrontation Camp and Fine Arts Militia?
CHUCK D: Those are things that are actually constructed by a band member Brian Hardgroove. Brian Hardgroove is actually with the backing band of PE, which we call the greatest show on earth (laughs) because PE is the Rolling Stones of Rap. Brian Hargrove is the bass player and the head of the band. The band is Banned and they’re making an album on SlamJamz. Tyrese Wen is the guitarist and Michael Faulkner is the drummer. To make long story short of that, those combinations with Brian Hardgroove contributed to making Confrontation Camp with myself, Carl Jason, and Professor Griff and also Fine Arts Militia which took my lectures and put them into a song form.
WHO?MAG: What ever happened to Sons of Bazerk that you were working with back in the days?
CHUCK D: Sons of Bazerk. He’s still living in Long Island. I think he’s one of most incredible talents ever. Sort of retired in the scene (laughs). To me, he has an incredible talent though.
WHO?MAG: I know you’ve been asked before, but what’s your opinion on Flavor Flav’s shows on VH1?
CHUCK D: That’s what Flavor does. You don’t expect people to sit around and go to a college lecture with Flavor lecturing (laughs) like myself. I lecture at colleges, Professor Griff writes books, Flavor does TV and happens to be a hell of a visual character. That’s what he does. I mean if Flavor had a college lecture at the University of Miami, would you go and check him out lecturing about racism in South America or would you watch him on the Flavor of Love show? It’s like he does what he does. We’re all one family so that’s what that is. As long as he doesn’t get hurt or doesn’t hurt his family, I’m good.
WHO?MAG: How does it feel to collaborate with Dead Prez and Kam?
CHUCK D: They’re all great allies of ours and it took the ability of Paris to make it work and happen.
WHO?MAG: One of my favorite songs is Brothers Going to Work it Out. How did that song come about?
CHUCK D: We were working on the tail end of It Takes a Nation. We put it together and I was taking songs with different titles that might have came somewhere else. That’s a Willie Hutch/Motown title and it energized me enough to write some lyrics about how we can get together and work our differences.
WHO?MAG: How was it working with Hank Shocklee and Bomb Squad in the studio?
CHUCK D: I was a part of the Bomb Squad. It was almost like a mini Motown assembly machine.
WHO?MAG: Any last words Chuck?
CHUCK D: Yeah, SlamJamz we believe we’re the 21st century record label for 45’s and MP3’s. We’re trying to getting out there.
For more info on Chuck D go to:
http://www.slamjamz.com/ & http://www.publicenemy.com/ & http://www.rapstation.com/