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Chuck D Pens Letter on the State of Hip-Hop

Srdjan Stevanovic, Getty Images

Reporting from Cape Town, South Africa, Public Enemy frontman Chuck D has penned his own hip-hop State of the Union address. The essay, originally addressed to writers Davey D and Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur of AllHipHop.com, discusses the 50-year-old’s observations on the genre’s global significance after some lengthy traveling.

“Looking at a HIP-HOP Planet across 25 countries while still somewhat supportive of American rap, the rest of the world has surpassed the U.S. in skill, in fundamentals and commitment to their communities,” the legendary rapper and hip-hop activist begins. He contests that “turntablism, breaking, graffiti and emceeing” have all developed elsewhere with more meaning and skill.

He says that the lack of local radio, television and community support make it hard for emerging rappers to break. “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 label 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.”

Chuck goes on to call out hip-hop’s ruling class, charging artists like Jay-Z to provide a greater contribution to their community, and fully embrace their ability to promote world change. Chuck hopes to become a “freedom fighter” in his own right and comes to the conclusion that never have so many been pimped by so few,” a sentiment he repeats throughout his penned monologue.

“Words are powerful and they can both start wars and bring peace,” he continues. “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.”

Finally, Chuck threatens to combat the rampant materialism that has taken control of his beloved culture. “I drive a ’94 Montero, a ’97 Acura, and have no expensive jewelry,” he says. “There is nothing on this planet materially that is better than myself. This is what I instill in many doing Hip-Hop that nothing is greater than what is given. These games of people doing anything to get things has seeped into my way so therefore witness some radical virtual things coming from me in protecting the art-form of Hip-Hop. Never have so many been pimped by so few. So, I’m going after the few. I’m tired of it.”

Read the essay here. Can Mista Chuck change the world?


Watch Public Enemy’s ‘Fight the Power’

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