Public Enemy was one of the most anti-establishment collectives of the 1980s. Hailing from New York City, the crew comprised of Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, and Terminator X was a phenomenon when they exploded into the mainstream.
Led by the legendary Chuck D (real name Carl Ridenhour), the collective addressed all kinds of issues in their songs. They highlighted many problems concerning America’s government and social justice system. Moreover, with their conscious lyrics, they were one of the only hip-hop acts using their music as a vehicle for social commentary in the 1980s.
Since his emergence, Chuck D has made waves, and despite not being in the limelight, the emcee, author, and activist has continued to make sure his voice is heard. Furthermore, he has been happy to highlight what he believes is wrong with contemporary hip-hop and how fans can salvage it.
Following the release of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s 2011 collaborative album, Watch The Throne, Ridenhour sat down for an in-depth interview during which he claimed that artists in positions of status, such as Hov and West, had wholly abandoned their duty to give back to the African-American people.
Taking to Twitter/X, after the album’s release, Ridenhour wrote, “Ye is a hip-hop God as Jay is, but their bases are corrupt to Rap.” Accusing Jay-Z and Kanye of getting into bed with corporations who don’t support young, local black talent, Chuck explained what he meant by “corrupt.”
Speaking on the ways of the old-school, Ridenhour reflected, “Alright, you have somebody who comes up in a local [scene], at least they should be heard on local radio. But corporate radio and corporations have dominated over that existence, wiping out that foundation [for fairness]. And therefore, the little business can’t even start up right, unless it’s corrupt and just totally, violently opposed to what the community is evolved from.”
Chuck D then proceeded to explain how Kanye and Jay-Z are complicit in the degradation of hip-hop by pandering to commercial radio and not helping local acts, divulging, “In the past, you would have somebody from the local area who would actually give advice, give inspiration, be able to be some sort of benchmark for people to follow if they wanted to do the same thing.”
He concluded, “So that has been totally eradicated as far as the community is concerned, destroyed by urban corporate radio, which means…take the Black ownership out. And also destroyed by the corporation of recording situations which kind of like dominate over those radio stations.”
You can hear Chuck D speaking about Jay-Z in the video below.