Hip-hop group frontman talks rap and culture at the U

by Koran Addo

On Wednesday, in front of a packed Coffman Union auditorium audience, Chuck D, controversial speaker and Public Enemy frontman, came to talk rap, race, reality and technology.


“Hip-hop and rap is supposed to represent the people,” D said into the microphone.

In a three-hour speech, D spoke about the large influence hip-hop has on mainstream society and where he sees the music heading.

“Music is an extension of the soul and the people bringing it to us have no soul,” he said.

Criticizing a music industry he said thrives on ignorance, D emphasized hip-hop music is not about pimps and drug dealers, contrary to what is shown on television and played on the radio.

University junior Caitlin Morris said the event was one of the best lectures she has heard since coming to the University.

“I thought (the lecture) was really poignant, especially the part about how the intelligence and the soul has been sucked out of (hip-hop music),” she said.

Race and reality

“It’s one world and one race: the human race,” D said.

Talking about what he called America’s out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality, D told the audience Americans cannot continue living ignorant of the rest of the world.

“Global issues are our issues; we all have to be citizens of planet Earth,” he said.

Attendee Jason Fleisner especially identified with the concept of how Americans need to be more aware of what is happening in other countries.

“I have friends from Canada, and they always say (Americans) only think about ourselves,” he said. “We’ve become so individualized that we forget about the rest of the world.”

The misperception of race in the United States was another topic D touched on. He said Americans need to respect each other and their differences.

He was in his most impassioned state when speaking about the misrepresentation of black culture in hip-hop music. He said hip-hop culture is a subculture of black culture and people should not look to Black Entertainment Television to learn about it.

“Culture is a wonderful thing,” D said. “Culture knocks differences aside and brings people together. Rims are not hip-hop culture. Being a thug is not hip-hop culture. Culture was meant to be panoramic and isn’t something that should be controlled by the haves and given to the have-nots.”


While D did not speak about technology in depth until a question and answer session, he spoke briefly about how the more we are connected the less we communicate.

D said we have to understand how information can be manipulated, especially through the Internet.

“Technology is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing, but we have to know how to use it,” he said.

He said communication is a lost art and we need it to better understand each other.

“We can talk to each other on the phone all day long, and then have nothing to say when we’re face to face.”