Chuck D in 2000
|Birth name||Carlton Douglas Ridenhour|
|Also known as||Carl Ryder, Mistachuck, Chucky D, Chuck Dangerous, The Hard Rhymer, The Rhyme Animal|
|Born||August 1, 1960|
New York City, U.S.
|Origin||Long Island, New York, U.S.|
Carlton Douglas Ridenhour (born August 1, 1960), known professionally as Chuck D, is an American rapper, author, and producer.As the leader of the rap group Public Enemy, which he co-founded in 1985 with Flavor Flav, Chuck D helped create politically and socially conscious hip hop music in the mid-1980s. The Source ranked him at No. 12 on their list of the Top 50 Hip-Hop Lyricists of All Time.
Ridenhour was born in Queens, New York.He began writing rhymes after the New York City blackout of 1977. After attending W. Tresper Clarke High School , he went to Adelphi University on Long Island to study graphic design, where he met William Drayton (Flavor Flav). He received a B.F.A. from Adelphi in 1984 and later received an honorary doctorate from Adelphi in 2013.
While at Adelphi, Ridenhour co-hosted hip hop radio show the Super Spectrum Mix Hour as Chuck D on Saturday nights at Long Island rock radio station WLIR, designed flyers for local hip-hop events, and drew a cartoon called Tales of the Skind for Adelphi student newspaper The Delphian.
Ridenhour (using the nickname Chuck D) formed Public Enemy in 1985 with Flavor Flav.Upon hearing Ridenhour's demo track "Public Enemy Number One", fledgling producer/upcoming music-mogul Rick Rubin insisted on signing him to his Def Jam label. Their major label releases 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), the compilation album 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. As of Flavor Flav's firing from the group in March 2020, Chuck D is the only remaining original member left in Public Enemy.
Ridenhour also contributed (as Chuck D) to several episodes of the PBS documentary series The Blues . He has appeared as a featured artist on many other songs and albums, having collaborated with artists such as Janet Jackson, Kool Moe Dee, The Dope Poet Society, Run–D.M.C., Ice Cube, Boom Boom Satellites, Rage Against the Machine, Anthrax, John Mellencamp and many others. In 1990, he appeared on "Kool Thing", a song by the alternative rock band Sonic Youth, and along with Flavor Flav, he sang on George Clinton's song "Tweakin'", which appears on his 1989 album The Cinderella Theory . In 1993, he executive produced Got 'Em Running Scared, an album by Ichiban Records group Chief Groovy Loo and the Chosen Tribe.
In 1996, Ridenhour released Autobiography of Mistachuck on Mercury Records. Chuck D made a rare appearance at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards, presenting the Video Vanguard Award to the Beastie Boys, whilst commending their musicianship. 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".He later described the decision to sue as "stupid".
In September 1999, he launched a multi-format "supersite" on the web site Rapstation.com. The site includes a TV and radio station with original programming, prominent hip hop 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 peer-to-peer 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. In 2000, he collaborated with Public Enemy's Gary G-Whiz and MC Lyte on the theme music to the television show Dark Angel . 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 . In 2003, he was featured in the PBS documentary Godfathers and Sons in which he recorded a version of Muddy Waters' song "Mannish Boy" with Common, Electrik Mud Cats, and Kyle Jason.He was also featured on Z-Trip's album Shifting Gears on a track called "Shock and Awe"; a 12-inch of the track was released featuring artwork by Shepard Fairey. In 2008 he 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, and also turned up on The Go! Team's album Proof of Youth on the track "Flashlight Fight." He also fulfilled his childhood dreams of being a sports announcer by performing the play-by-play commentary in the video game NBA Ballers: Chosen One on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
In 2009, Ridenhour wrote the foreword to the book The Love Ethic: The Reason Why You Can't Find and Keep Beautiful Black Love by Kamau and Akilah Butler. He also appeared on Brother Ali's album, Us .
In March 2011, Chuck D re-recorded vocals with The Dillinger Escape Plan for a cover of "Fight the Power".
Chuck D duetted with Rock singer Meat Loaf on his 2011 album Hell in a Handbasket on the song "Mad Mad World/The Good God Is a Woman and She Don't Like Ugly".
In 2016 Chuck D joined the band Prophets of Rage along with B-Real and former members of Rage Against the Machine.
In July 2019, Ridenhour sued Terrordome Music Publishing and Reach Music Publishing for $1 million for withholding royalties.
Chuck D is known for his powerful rapping. How to Rap says he "has a powerful, resonant voice that is often acclaimed as one of the most distinct and impressive in hip-hop". 248 Chuck says this was based on listening to Melle Mel and sportscasters such as Marv Albert. :248:
Chuck often comes up with a title for a song first. 31 He writes on paper, though sometimes edits using a computer. :143 He prefers to not punch in :280 or overdub vocals. :282:
Chuck listed his favourite rap albums in Hip Hop Connection : 10. N.W.A, Straight Outta Compton 9. Boogie Down Productions, Criminal Minded 8. Run-DMC, Tougher Than Leather 7. Big Daddy Kane, Looks Like a Job For... 6. Stetsasonic, In Full Gear 5. Ice Cube, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted 4. Dr. Dre, The Chronic 3. De La Soul, 3 Feet High and Rising 2. Eric B. & Rakim, Follow the Leader 1. Run-DMC, Raising Hell ("It was the first record that made me realise this was an album-oriented genre")
Chuck D identifies as Black, as opposed to African or African-American. In a 1993 issue of DIRT Magazine covering a taping of In the Mix hosted by Alimi Ballard at the Apollo, Dan Field writes,
At one point, Chuck bristles a bit at the term "African-American." He thinks of himself as Black and sees nothing wrong with the term. Besides, he says, having been born in the United States and lived his whole life here, he doesn't consider himself African. Being in Public Enemy has given him the chance to travel around the world, an experience that really opened his eyes and his mind. He says visiting Africa and experiencing life on a continent where the majority of people are Black gave him a new perspective and helped him get in touch with his own history. He also credits a trip to the ancient Egyptian pyramids at Giza with helping him appreciate the relative smallness of man.
Ridenhour is 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 has continued 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 with Yusuf Jah. 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. Despite Chuck D and Public Enemy's success, Chuck D claims that popularity or public approval was never a driving motivation behind their work. He is admittedly skeptical of celebrity status, revealing in a 1999 interview with BOMB Magazine that, "The key for the record companies is to just keep making more and more stars, and make the ones who actually challenge our way of life irrelevant. The creation of celebrity has clouded the minds of most people in America, Europe and Asia. It gets people off the path they need to be on as individuals."
In an interview with Le Monde published January 29, 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 stated that French President Nicolas 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 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 June 2008, he spoke of today's mainstream urban music seemingly relishing 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 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."
In 2010, Chuck D released a track, "Tear Down That Wall". He said, "I talked about the wall not only just dividing the U.S. and Mexico but the states of California, New Mexico and Texas. But Arizona, it's like, come on. Now they're going to enforce a law that talks about basically racial profiling."
He is on the board of the TransAfrica Forum, a Pan African organization that is focused on African, Caribbean and Latin American issues.
Chuck D lives in California, and lost his home in the Thomas Fire of December 2017-January 2018. He is a pescetarian.
Boogie Down Productions was a hip hop group, originally composed of KRS-One, D-Nice, and DJ Scott La Rock. DJ Scott La Rock was murdered on August 27, 1987, five months after the release of BDP's debut album, Criminal Minded. The name of the group, Boogie Down, derives from a nickname for the South Bronx section of The Bronx, one of the five boroughs of New York City. The group pioneered the fusion of dancehall reggae and hip hop music and their debut LP Criminal Minded contained frank descriptions of life in the South Bronx during the late 1980s, thus setting the stage for what would eventually become gangsta rap and further down the road drill music.
Public Enemy is an American hip hop group consisting of Chuck D and DJ Lord. Formed in Long Island, New York, in 1985, they are famous for their music with a heavy political message alongside extreme criticism of the media of the United States, with many of their works also revolving around frustrations and concerns of the African American community.
Trevor George Smith Jr., better known by his stage name Busta Rhymes, is an American rapper, musician, singer, record producer, record executive, and actor. Chuck D of Public Enemy gave him the moniker Busta Rhymes, after NFL and CFL wide receiver George "Buster" Rhymes. He is known for his outlandish style and fashion sense as well as his intricate and high-speed rhyming technique. He has received 11 Grammy Award nominations for his work.
Fear of a Black Planet is the third studio album by American hip hop group Public Enemy. It was released on April 10, 1990, by Def Jam Recordings and Columbia Records.
Fear of a Black Hat is a 1993 American mockumentary film on the evolution and state of American hip hop music. The film's title is derived from the 1990 Public Enemy album Fear of a Black Planet. First screened at Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 1993, and later released on June 3, 1994, Fear of a Black Hat was written, produced and directed by, and co-stars Rusty Cundieff.
Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black is the fourth studio album by American hip hop group Public Enemy, released on October 1, 1991, by Def Jam Recordings and Columbia Records. The album received critical acclaim, ranking at No. 2 in The Village Voice's 1991 Pazz & Jop critics' poll.
Yo! Bum Rush the Show is the debut studio album by American hip hop group Public Enemy, released on February 10, 1987. It was recorded at Spectrum City Studios in Hempstead, New York, and became one of the fastest-selling hip hop records, but was controversial among radio stations and critics, in part due to lead rapper Chuck D's black nationalist politics. Despite this, the album has since been regarded as one of hip hop's greatest and most influential records.
"Fight the Power" is a song by American hip hop group Public Enemy, released as a single in the summer of 1989 on Motown Records. It was conceived at the request of film director Spike Lee, who sought a musical theme for his 1989 film Do the Right Thing. First issued on the film's 1989 soundtrack, a different version was featured on Public Enemy's 1990 studio album Fear of a Black Planet.
"Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" is a song on the American hip hop group Public Enemy's 1988 album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. It was released as a single in 1989. The song tells the story of a conscientious objector who makes a prison escape. It is built on a high-pitched piano sample from Isaac Hayes' "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic", from 1969's Hot Buttered Soul.
William Jonathan Drayton Jr., widely known by his stage name Flavor Flav, is an American rapper, rap "hype man," civil rights activist, and television personality. He had cofounded the rap group Public Enemy in 1985 with Chuck D, who in 2020 "fired" him from the group. Its iconic hype man, Flavor Flav is known especially for his yells of "Yeah, boyeeeeee!". After several years outside the public eye, he starred in several VH1 reality series, including The Surreal Life, Strange Love, and Flavor of Love.
"911 Is a Joke" is a 1990 song by American hip hop group Public Enemy, from their third album, Fear of a Black Planet. The song is solely done by Flavor Flav. It was released as a single and became a hit in April 1990, reaching number 15 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, and number one on the Hot Rap Singles chart, becoming their second number-one rap chart hit after "Fight the Power". It also reached number one on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. This was due largely to its sales, which were unusually high for the level of mainstream airplay it received; Billboard reported that only one of the stations on its Top 40 panel was playing it.
"Bring the Noise" is a song by the American hip hop group Public Enemy. It was included on the soundtrack of the 1987 film Less Than Zero; the song was also released as a single that year. It later became the first song on the group's 1988 album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. The single reached No. 56 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Harry Allen is a hip hop activist and journalist affiliated with the group Public Enemy, and is the director of the Rhythm Cultural Institute. He grew up in Freeport, Long Island.
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is the second studio album by American hip hop group Public Enemy, released on June 28, 1988. The group set out to make the hip hop equivalent to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, an album noted for its strong social commentary. Recording sessions took place throughout 1987 and 1988 at Chung King Studios, Greene St. Recording, and Sabella Studios in New York. Noting the enthusiastic response toward their live shows, Public Enemy intended to make faster music than their 1987 debut Yo! Bum Rush the Show for performance purposes.
"Rebel Without a Pause" is a song by hip hop group Public Enemy and the first single from their 1988 album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. The title is a reference to the 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause.
"Make Love Fuck War", also called "MKLVFKWR", is a song by electronica musician Moby and hip hop group Public Enemy. It was released as a single on July 2, 2004. The song is featured on Unity: The Official Athens 2004 Olympic Games Album and Public Enemy's album, New Whirl Odor. It was initially released as a protest to the 2003 Iraq War; the music video combines footage from 2002–2003 urban protests against the war with footage from previous concerts of both participants in the single.
"Night of the Living Baseheads" is the third single released by hip hop group Public Enemy, from their critically acclaimed album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. The lyrics deal with the effects of crack cocaine on African-Americans during the 1980s crack epidemic, referring to the slang for cocaine "base". The song reached #62 on the U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks.
Original Concept were an American 1980s hip-hop group from Long Island, New York, United States, best known for their single “Can You Feel It.” They only made one album and it was notable for the absence of lyrics on many of the tracks. The group are perhaps better known for their production prowess and instrumentals.
Son of Bazerk is an American hip hop group, consisting of Son of Bazerk ; Almighty Jahwell ; Daddy Rawe ; Half Pint. It was formed by Hank Shocklee, a member of the producer team the Bomb Squad.
Brian Harmon, better known by his stage name Champtown, is an American rapper, disc jockey, film director and teacher from Detroit, Michigan. Founder of the Straight Jacket independent record label, Champtown is known for helping establish the careers of a number of Detroit hip hop artists, including Kid Rock. He has also worked with Ice-T, Rev Run, Public Enemy and Uncle Kracker. He is currently producing a documentary film, The Untold Story of Detroit Hip Hop, which will be narrated by Chuck D and feature interviews with notable Detroit rappers.
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