In 1988 during my Junior High School years I heard my older brother playing Public Enemy’s sophomore album, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. This was actually my introduction to the group and lead MC, Chuck D. Looking back, it’s funny that I heard this album before I heard PE’s debut Yo! Bum Rush The Show. As for Chuck D, my first impression of him in 1988 was similar to how I felt about Rakim. They were both very conscious and mature as young men. As a rap music fan and a kid growing up in the Hip Hop Culture, it was vital to see individuals who would speak political, economical and social awareness.
Chuck D came off like your favorite Uncle who would put you in your place but do it with love and education. I never viewed Chuck D and Public Enemy as “Preachy” or anything like that. I viewed PE as a necessary balance to NWA, Ice T, BDP, and the "Party" MC's and Groups. Music Critics called Rap Music a "Hobby" that would never sustain it's momentum. Chuck D brought credibility to Rap Music and Hip Hop. Chuck D also provided historical reminders of America's hypocritical past, present and what we can expect in the future if we aren't aware. Chuck D knew we were Public Enemies to the establishment and there was limited room for mistakes. By mistakes, I mean in the way we carry ourselves as Black People and the way we nurture our children and youth.
As I sit here writing this blog about Chuck D, one of my favorite PE tracks, Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos blast out the speakers. The lyrics to the track to me pretty much sum up Chuck D and Public Enemy. It was a powerful song on an equally powerful album. The track touches our often corrupt Prison System. But hey, this was just one of many songs and albums where Chuck D tackled Systematic Racism, Slavery, 80's Drug Laws, Black Community Conditions and how we can empower each other. Over the past 35 years, Chuck D has been a voice for Hip Hop and dare I say, I feel he is not appreciated the way he should be. As an MC he is one of the greatest of all time and as an activist for the genre, he is possibly our #1 General.
When I think of dignity and pride, I think of Chuck D. I respect people who refuse to compromise their character to "fit in" with the crowd. Chuck D in terms of Hip Hop is like a Civil Rights Leader trying to preserve the culture and to provide pride to Black People. I have personally never met Chuck D but people I know that have, had positive experiences. I've only had a few brief interactions with Chuck D on Twitter and he comes off genuine. At any rate, I'm playing Public Enemy next week in the car to reflect on a Golden Age in Rap Music. Keep doing your thing Mr. Chuck D. You are truly The Grown Man of Rap Music and always have been.