Definitions

counting off

Chuck D

Carlton Douglas Ridenhour (born August 1, 1960 in Roosevelt, New York), better known by his stage name, Chuck D, is an American rapper, author, and producer. He helped create politically and socially conscious rap music in the late 1980s as the leader of the rap group, Public Enemy.

Biography

Early life

Ridenhour was born in Roosevelt, Long Island. After graduating from Roosevelt Junior-Senior High School, he went to Adelphi University in Long Island, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in Graphic Design.

Career

Upon hearing Ridenhour's demo track "Public Enemy Number One", fledgling producer/mogul Rick Rubin insisted on signing him to his Def Jam label. However, Ridenhour viewed the music business as a step down from the design job he had at the time.

Chronologically, 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 feature 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 and many others. In 1990, he appeared in Sonic Youth's "Kool Thing". In 1993, he executively produced Got 'Em Running Scared, an album by Ichiban Records group "Chief Groovy Loo and the Chosen Tribe".

Later career

In 1996, Ridenhour released Autobiography Of Mistachuck on Mercury Records. 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".

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 Internet music 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. 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 recently 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.

Politics

Ridenhour is extremely 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 (ISBN 0-385-31868-5). 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. 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.

In an interview with Le Monde published 29 January 2008 , 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 in 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.

TV appearances

Film appearances

  • 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.

Discography

With Public Enemy

Chuck D

References

External links

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