We’re easing into the second month of Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary, and Chuck D is celebrating the culture. The Rap pioneer witnessed the inception of Hip Hop all those years ago, and he was instrumental in the genre’s development as a member of Public Enemy. On February 7, Chuck D is releasing Livin’ Loud: ARTitation, a collection of 250 artworks, and it arrives ahead of his Fight the Power: How Hip-Hop Changed the World, a must-see series on PBS.
In a discussion with USA Today, Chuck D explained why it was necessary for him to produce this four-part docuseries. “I’m 12 years older than hip-hop and I’ve been entrenched in it my whole life. I always wanted to be a caretaker of it.” He also shared, “I grew up a child of the arts. I knew who my people were and when hip-hop came along, I saw it as a latter-day voice.”
The Fight The Power series explores Hip Hop through a different lens. Chuck touched on what he learned through the process of speaking with his acclaimed peers about the depths of Hip Hop history. He suggested that several artists were able to share their knowledge of Hip Hop because they were being presented with the right questions.
“Grandmaster Caz, Monie Love, Eminem,” he began. “They all sound like scholars because they were never presented with questions of depth and detail about hip-hop before. I learned that when you present questions in a high regard, when quality is the conversation as opposed to quantity, everybody came up with answers that went beyond what was expected.” Elsewhere, the Rap icon was also questioned about a drawing of Kanye West featured in his art book. Chuck D was asked if he was disappointed that West seemed more interested in attention than the message itself. He replied, “I don’t look at Kanye as being any different than Salvador Dalí. I’m gonna keep it to your art and go no further.”
“I’m not in the business of making Black people or Black art look bad,” Chuck D answered. “Celebrity is a drug of the USA. They try to tell you it’s a drug of the world, but you go other places and they’ll tell you that you’re an entertainer, you have no political voice. They say, play a song and don’t say anything to the audience. And the No. 1 job of an entertainer is to abide by that law. I learned that with Public Enemy or we would have been Brittney Griner a long time ago. And no one was coming to get a Black male.”