Chuck D is one of the most iconic New York golden-age rappers of all time. Known for his overtly political rhymes and proud allegiance to the African-American community that raised him, the emcee (real name Carlton Ridenhour) was a massive part of the 1980s conscious hip-hop movement. That said, as an activist and anti-establishment rhymer, he had a fan in 2pac, and before he passed away in 1996, the ‘California Love’ legend showed his loyalty to Public Enemy in an odd way.
In an interview with Sway Calloway on Sway In The Morning, Ridenhour spoke on his encounters with Shakur in the early ’90s when he was still a member of Digital Underground in Oakland.
The ‘Fight The Power’ emcee recalled how Digital Underground and Public Enemy co-headlined a North America tour at the turn of the decade. However, halfway through the tour, an incident occurred during which 2pac (real name Tupac Shakur) decided to take drastic measures to show his loyalty to the New York collective.
Recalling the episode, Ridenhour detailed, “We were in Oklahoma City one time, and somebody went and stole stuff out of the backstage. I think they stole some equipment… a hat, whatever, and they found the dude.” He continued, “They [security] said, ‘Is this the dude?’ And ‘Pac said somebody told him that was the dude, then ‘Pac went upside this dude’s head!”
Recalling how he told Shakur he didn’t need to put his hands on anyone, Ridenhour recounted, “I said, ‘Yo, ‘Pac, it’s not that deep, man. But ‘Pac wanted to prove, ‘Listen, I’m ridin’ for y’all!’ Well, ‘Pac, we don’t want you to get arrested in OKC, man, it’s alright.” Chuck admitted that even when Shakur became more relevant than Public Enemy in the 1990s, they remained close friends and divulged that the ‘Dear Mama’ icon even wrote him a letter while he was in prison in 1995.
You can hear Ridenhour telling Calloway the strange story below.