This summer, legendary rap group Public Enemy kicked off their 77th World Tour in Leipzig, Germany to a crowd of over 30,000 fans. Spanning three months and twelve countries, the tour brought “Bring The Noize,” their groundbreaking collaboration with Anthrax, back to fans after its initial release twenty years ago. The tour proved to the world that after 25 years, the pioneering group remains cohesive and timeless, which is rare in an era in which Hip-Hop is plagued by invidividualism and fleeting trends.

Last month, group member Chuck D brought some noise of his own when he released what was described as “a mashup of his own lyrics to ‘Notice Know This’ and Otis Redding’s ‘Chain Gang.'” The song’s video was released shortly after Jay-Z and Kanye West’s single “Otis,” which Chuck D credited for inspiration, along with “the media frenzy over Soulja Boy’s purported $55 million purchase and renovation of a jet.” Controversy arose soon thereafter over whether or not the Hip-Hop pioneer was “calling out” fellow artists. Challenging artists to rise to higher ground, Chuck D spoke of socioeconomic hardships faced by tens of thousands Americans who would find it hard to relate to the tales of Black opulence being told by many popular rappers.

We know that Chuck D’s timely and critical message has already, unfortunately, gone into the black hole of media and public consciousness. But as America seeks to gather herself together in the aftermath of Troy Davis’ controversial execution, Chuck D’s message is perhaps more relevant now than ever before, as people continue to ask why so many influential rap artists remained silent at such a pivotal moment in American history.

Urban Cusp recently had the opportunity to chat with the Hip-Hop living legend about what he’s learned from nearly 30 years in the industry, artist coalition-building, female rappers, Watch the Throne, Black Power, and so much more. You will quickly understand why speaking with Mr. Chuck D became a real-life “Brown Sugar” moment. While he schooled me to a lot in relation to the musical form, he more importantly embodied a love for the people that solidified my commitment to the Hip-Hop generation.

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