Chuck D

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Chuck D
Chuck D Public Enemy Way Out West 2013 (cropped).jpg
Chuck D of Public Enemy at Way Out West 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden
Background information
Birth name Carlton Douglas Ridenhour
Also known as Carl Ryder (as a member of production team The Bomb Squad), Mistachuck, Chucky D, Chuck Dangerous, The Hard Rhymer, The Rhyme Animal,
Born (1960-08-01) August 1, 1960 (age 54)
Origin Roosevelt, New York, United States
Genres Hip hop, political hip-hop, hardcore hip-hop, rap rock
Occupations Rapper, publisher, lecturer, activist, record producer
Years active 1986–present
Associated acts Public Enemy, Confrontation Camp, Fine Arts Militia, Immortal Technique, Sonic Youth, Sister Souljah, KRS-One, Living Colour, Vanilla Ice, Ludacris, Rage Against the Machine, Anthrax, LL Cool J, Mat Zo, Ice Cube
Website publicenemy.com

Carlton Douglas Ridenhour (born August 1, 1960), better known by his stage name Chuck D, is an American rapper, author,[1] and producer. He helped create politically and socially conscious rap music in the mid-1980s as the leader of the rap group Public Enemy. About.com ranked him #9 on their list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time,[2] while The Source ranked him #12 on their list of the Top 50 Hip-Hop Lyricists of All Time.[3]

Early life[edit]

Ridenhour was born in Queens, New York.[4] After graduating from Roosevelt Junior-Senior High School, he went to Adelphi University on Long Island to study graphic design. He is the son of Lorenzo Ridenhour.

Career[edit]

Upon hearing Ridenhour's demo track "Public Enemy Number One", fledgling producer/upcoming music-mogul Rick Rubin insisted on signing him to his Def Jam label.[5]

Their major label albums were Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987), It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988), Fear of a Black Planet (1990), Apocalypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Black (1991), Greatest Misses (1992), and Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age (1994). They also released a full length album soundtrack for the film He Got Game in 1998. Ridenhour also contributed (as Chuck D) to several episodes of the PBS documentary series The Blues. He has appeared as a featured artist on many other songs and albums, having collaborated with artists such as Janet Jackson, Kool Moe Dee, The Dope Poet Society, Run-DMC, Ice Cube, Boom Boom Satellites, Rage Against the Machine, Anthrax, John Mellencamp and many others. In 1990, he appeared on "Kool Thing", a song by the alternative rock band Sonic Youth, and along with Flavor Flav, he sang on George Clinton's song "Tweakin'", which appears on his 1989 album The Cinderella Theory. In 1993, he executive produced Got 'Em Running Scared, an album by Ichiban Records group Chief Groovy Loo and the Chosen Tribe.[6]

Later career[edit]

In 1996, Ridenhour released Autobiography of Mistachuck on Mercury Records. Chuck D made a rare appearance at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards, presenting the Video Vanguard Award to the Beastie Boys, whilst commending their musicianship. In November 1998, he settled out of court with Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace's estate over the latter's sampling of his voice in the song "Ten Crack Commandments". The specific sampling is Ridenhour counting off the numbers one to nine on the track "Shut 'Em Down".[7]

In September 1999, he launched a multi-format "supersite" on the web site Rapstation.com. A home for the vast global hip hop community, the site boasts a TV and radio station with original programming, many of hip hop's most prominent DJs, celebrity interviews, free MP3 downloads (the first was contributed by multi-platinum rapper Coolio), downloadable ringtones by ToneThis, social commentary, current events, and regular features on turning rap careers into a viable living. Since 2000, he has been one of the most vocal supporters of peer-to-peer file sharing in the music industry.

He loaned his voice to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as DJ Forth Right MC for the radio station Playback FM. In 2000, he collaborated with Public Enemy's Gary G-Whiz and MC Lyte on the theme music to the television show Dark Angel. He appeared with Henry Rollins in a cover of Black Flag's "Rise Above" for the album Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three. He was also featured on Z-Trip's album Shifting Gears on a track called "Shock and Awe"; a 12-inch of the track was released featuring artwork by Shepard Fairey. In 2008 he contributed a chapter to Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture (The MIT Press, 2008) edited by Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky, and also turned up on The Go! Team's album Proof of Youth on the track "Flashlight Fight." He also fulfilled his childhood dreams of being a sports announcer by performing the play-by-play commentary in the video game NBA Ballers: Chosen One on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

In 2009, Ridenhour wrote the foreword to the book The Love Ethic: The Reason Why You Can't Find and Keep Beautiful Black Love by Kamau and Akilah Butler. He also appeared on Brother Ali's album, Us.[8]

In March 2011, Chuck D re-recorded vocals with The Dillinger Escape Plan for a cover of "Fight the Power".

Chuck D duetted with Rock singer Meat Loaf on his 2011 album Hell in a Handbasket on the song "Mad Mad World/The Good God Is a Woman and She Don't Like Ugly".

Rapping technique and creative process[edit]

Chuck D is known for his powerful rapping voice - How to Rap says, “Chuck D of Public Enemy has a powerful, resonant voice that is often acclaimed as one of the most distinct and impressive in hip-hop”.[9] Chuck D says this was based on listening to Melle Mel and sportscasters such as Marv Albert.[9]

Chuck D often comes up with a title for a song first[10][11] and that he writes on paper, though he sometimes edits using a computer.[12] He also prefers to not punch in vocals,[13] and he prefers to not overdub vocals.[14]

Politics[edit]

Ridenhour is politically active; he co-hosted Unfiltered on Air America Radio, testified before Congress in support of peer-to-peer MP3 sharing, and was involved in a 2004 rap political convention. He continues to be an activist, publisher, lecturer, and producer. Addressing the negative views associated with rap music, he co-wrote the essay book Fight the Power: Rap, Race, and Reality, along with Yusuf Jah. He argues that "music and art and culture is escapism, and escapism sometimes is healthy for people to get away from reality", but sometimes the distinction is blurred and that's when "things could lead a young mind in a direction."[15] He also founded the record company Slam Jamz and acted as narrator in Kareem Adouard's short film Bling: Consequences and Repercussions, which examines the role of conflict diamonds in bling fashion. Despite Chuck D and Public Enemy's success, Chuck D claims that popularity or public approval was never a driving motivation behind their work. He is admittedly skeptical of celebrity status, revealing in a 1999 interview with BOMB Magazine that, "The key for the record companies is to just keep making more and more stars, and make the ones who actually challenge our way of life irrelevant. The creation of celebrity has clouded the minds of most people in America, Europe and Asia. It gets people off the path they need to be on as individuals." [16]

In an interview with Le Monde published January 29, 2008,[17] Chuck D stated that rap is devolving so much into a commercial enterprise, that the relationship between the rapper and the record label is that of slave to a master. He believes that nothing has changed for African-Americans since the debut of Public Enemy and, although he thinks that an Obama-Clinton alliance is great, he does not feel that the establishment will allow anything of substance to be accomplished. He also stated that French President Sarkozy is like any other European elite: he has profited through the murder, rape, and pillaging of those less fortunate and he refuses to allow equal opportunity for those men and women from Africa. In this article, he also defended a comment made by Professor Griff in the past that he says was taken out of context by the media. The real statement was a critique of the Israeli government and its treatment of the Palestinian people. Chuck D stated that it is Public Enemy's belief that all human beings are equal.

In an interview with the magazine N'Digo published in late June 2008, he spoke of today's mainstream urban music seemingly relishing the addictive euphoria of materialism and sexism, perhaps being the primary cause of many people harboring resentment towards the genre and its future. However he has expressed hope for its resurrection, saying "It's only going to be dead if it doesn’t talk about the messages of life as much as the messages of death and non-movement", citing artists such as NYOil, M.I.A. and the The Roots as socially conscious artists who push the envelope creatively. "A lot of cats are out there doing it, on the Web and all over. They’re just not placing their career in the hands of some major corporation."[18]

Most recently Chuck D became involved in Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights, a 3-CD box set from Time Life. He wrote the introduction to the liner notes and is visiting colleges across the nation discussing the significance of the set. He's also set to appear in a follow up movie called Let Freedom Sing: The Music That Inspired the Civil Rights Movement.

In 2010, Chuck D released a track entitled "Tear Down That Wall". He said, “I talked about the wall not only just dividing the U.S. and Mexico but the states of California, New Mexico and Texas. But Arizona, it's like, come on. Now they're going to enforce a law that talks about basically racial profiling.”[19]

He is on the board of the TransAfrica Forum a Pan African organization that works for the right of Africa, Caribbean and Latin American issues.

Personal life[edit]

Gaye Theresa Johnson

Chuck D is married to Gaye Theresa Johnson, an associate professor in the Department of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.[20][21]

He is a pescatarian.[22]

TV appearances[edit]

Film appearances[edit]

  • He is the narrator of the 2006 documentary Quilombo Country, directed by Leonard Abrams.
  • He is prominently featured in Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a 2006 documentary by Byron Hurt.
  • He is prominently featured in the 2008 film The Black Candle, directed by M.K. Asante, Jr. and narrated by Maya Angelou.
  • He is featured in a web mini-series called On The Real Off The Record, produced by The Real News Network, June 1, 2009.
  • He played a bank robber named "Malcolm Y" in an unused plotline for the movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which was eventually released straight-to-DVD as Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie.
  • He appeared in An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn.
  • He is featured in the 1997 documentary Rhyme & Reason about rap and hip hop.
  • He is featured in the 2006 documentary "The Rap Report, Part 2" about the history and founding of hip hop culture and rap music, produced by Rex Barnett. Go to historyonvideo.net for more information about this program.
  • He appeared in the 2012 documentary "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap".
  • He is the narrator of the 2013 NBA TV's," The Doctor." Which features the life and career of NBA great Dr. J, Julius Erving.

Music appearances[edit]

  • He raps on "New Agenda" from Janet Jackson's janet.. "I loved his work, but I'd never met him…" said Jackson. "I called Chuck up and told him how much I admired their work. When I hear Chuck, it's like I'm hearing someone teaching, talking to a whole bunch of people. And instead of just having the rap in the bridge, as usual, I wanted him to do stuff all the way through. I sent him a tape. He said he loved the song, but he was afraid he was going to mess it up. I said, 'Are you kidding?'"[25]
  • In 2010, Chuck D made an appearance on the track "Transformação" (Portuguese for "Transformation") from Brazilian rapper MV Bill's album Causa E Efeito (pt:Causa e Efeito, meaning Cause And Effect).
  • In 2011 Chuck D made an appearance on the track "Blue Sky / Mad Mad World / The Good God Is A Woman And She Don't Like Ugly" from Meat Loaf's 2011 album Hell In A Handbasket.
  • In 2013, he has appeared in Mat Zo's single, "Pyramid Scheme."
  • In 2013 he performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Music Masters concert tribute to the Rolling Stones.

Discography[edit]

With Public Enemy[edit]

Chuck D[edit]

Studio albums

Compilation albums

  • 2010 (as Mistachuck): I Don't Rhyme for the Sake of Riddlin'
  • 2010: Action (DJ Matheos Worldwide International Remix) - Most*hifi (featuring Chuck D. and Huggy)[26]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ D, Chuck; Jah, Yusuf (2007). Chuck D: Lyrics of a Rap Revolutionary. Gardena, Calif.: Offda. ISBN 978-0-9749484-1-6. 
  2. ^ By Henry Adaso. "50 Greatest MCs of All Time". About. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Source: Top 50 Lyricists [Magazine Scans] - Genius". Genius. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Chuck D biography". MTV Artists. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  5. ^ ""Hip-hop, you don't stop"". the Guardian. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Chief Groovy Loo And The Chosen Tribe". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  7. ^ Reiss, Randy (November 17, 1998). "Public Enemy's Chuck D Settles B.I.G. Copyright Suit". MTV. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  8. ^ Williams, Kam (June 30, 2009). "The Love Ethic". KamWilliams.com. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  9. ^ a b Edwards, p. 248.
  10. ^ Edwards, p. 31.
  11. ^ Coleman, Brian. Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies. New York: Villard/Random House, 2007, ISBN 978-0-8129-7775-2. p. 360.
  12. ^ Edwards, p. 143.
  13. ^ Edwards, p. 280.
  14. ^ Edwards, p. 282.
  15. ^ "Chuck D: The D is for Dangerous". Crave Online. August 6, 2007. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  16. ^ Thorpe, David. "Chuck D", ‘’BOMB Magazine’’ Summer, 1999. Retrieved on June 13, 2012
  17. ^ [1][dead link]
  18. ^ Muhammad, Cinque. "Hip-Hop Conspiracy? Critics charge conscious rap is silenced." N'Digo Online. June 26 - July 2, 2008. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  19. ^ "Chuck D Takes Aim at Arizona; Public Enemy In the Studio". Billboard. 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  20. ^ Ceccato, Michael (February 5, 2010), Chuck D raps a new game to Sac State students, Sacramento Press, retrieved March 4, 2010 
  21. ^ "Gaye Theresa Johnson". Biography. University of California, Santa Barbara. Retrieved March 4, 2010. 
  22. ^ "PETA2 // Out There // Fight the Power With Chuck D". Peta2.com. Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  23. ^ "A discussion of the music wars on the internet". Charlierose.com. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Newsnight debate on unity in America". News.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  25. ^ Q, June 1993
  26. ^ "Action (DJ Matheos Worldwide International Remix)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-12-02. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]