Chuck D says gun violence is a “sickness” in the rap community
(Credit: Kim Metso)


Chuck D says gun violence is a "sickness" in the rap community

As the frontman of the legendary New York collective Public Enemy, Chuck D has always been politically conscious. From issues like drug use to government corruption, the emcee (real name Carl Ridenhour) has been more than happy to address overtly. However, his latest quest is to fix America’s relations to guns and their use.

Although Public Enemy were angry, rebellious and counter-culture, in an interview with The Guardian, Ridenhour was proud of the fact that neither he nor any other member of his group ever promoted the use of guns and were attempting to disincentivise their use through rap. 

Ridenhour explained why the group felt no need to possess or talk about guns, stating, “Vocally, there was no group faster, no group louder, no group stronger. Words were our bullets.” He continued, “Our message was, it’s not about having a gun. It’s about being a thinker.”

Explaining why he felt the need to deter people from the use of guns, the emcee recalled how, during the mid-80s, racial violence was flaring in black neighbourhoods. Unfortunately, Ridenhour has not seen much change since then and, as such, has decided to illustrate a graffiti-style picture novel to address some of the biggest problems facing America, including gun violence.

From the Bronx in New York to Jackson, Mississippi, the musician’s sketches highlight the expansiveness of the issues. From mass shootings to problems in the African-American community, guns have enormously impacted America. However, the country is very divided concerning the case, and Ridenhour exposes this with a sketch that includes the phrase “Disunited States of America”.

Speaking on the general sentiment of elders in the African-American community, Chuck D explained to the interviewer, “People are confused and angry. Only last week, a black woman was shot down because she was shoplifting. She was just shoplifting! And it was the police!”

Finally, Ridenhour took aim at the current generation of hip-hop artists and revealed he believes they are making the problem worse, disclosing, “Too many rappers have been lost to shootings. It’s a sickness and an epidemic that has permeated and come out through the music.”