An Interview w/ Chuck D pt 3
by Davey D 9/5/02
Chuck D on Mumia and Son of a Bush
DAVEY D-That is interesting the whole criticism on just sloganering.Talk a little about that... The lyrics to that song,[Give the People What They Need], starting off w/ comedian Paul Mooney. Then you bring up those names Mumia and H Rap Brown. You don’t often hear too many people doing that. Maybe one or two groups have done that like Dead Prez, when they talked about political prisoners like Fred Hampton Jr. After them you are hard pressed to find anybody else who digs deep into our culture and brings up some names that people should be aware of.
CHUCK D- Going back to the record Rebel w/o a Cause ,I I mentioned the name Assata Shakur [Joanne Chasimard]. Ya know we draw from music and the contributions of the past. If a person says H. Rap Brown, they only think “Rap” because they only hear Rap in it. It’s important to name Jamil Al Amin which is his Muslim name but to say H. Rap Brown, make it sound sexy enough to make someone say;
”H Rap Brown? What he talkin’ about?”
When you say “Free Mumia and H. Rap Brown” you spark a curiousity. That’s the thing that can teach b/c somebody’s curiosity is sparked then they will begin the educational route themselves. So like I said if we don’t try, how will we know what will happen. My whole thing is that it’s been too much reliance on convenience in making records. Everybody is trying to make the perfect record and not trying to do the wrong thing when they record it. When soul music was made, it is half execution. It is not the perfect recording. You don't have people doing 80 takes ‘til they get the verse right. That’s the beauty of the freestyle. Freestyle cats come off the top of their heads and you got all the grunts and groans and you are able to come across all the words get them right on the beat then you got something that has soul.
DAVEY D-Now is that a different approach, b/c I have been in the studio with you when y’all was doing some of Fear of a Black Planet.Back then you very meticulous. I recall vividly sitting there for 8 hours while you sat up and searched through record after record until you found that one sound which was a laugh that was later buried in the final song [911 Is A Joke] to a point I couldn’t even hear it when it finally came out. Does PE still take that approach to building up that collage of sound where you have layers & layers upon layers of music and things to sift through... or is it now really an approach of 'hey man, this is what you get, this is what I did'.
CHUCK D- Yeah, I think now the method is that we have never done the same record twice. I think now it’s a collage of participants. I think when a cat says;
“Yo man, I could have done this for ya".
I mean how could the Neptunes necessarily be better than this cat from Taiwan whose puttin’ it down like that? So we take the chance from the cat from Taiwan... Do we take the cat that has the popularity and hype around him? My whole thing is I’ll take the new cat. That’s where we’re at. The new cat will try different techniques that we wouldn’t have ever thought of.
Let's take Scattershot and the song 'B Side Wins Again'. When they won the contest I initially had a mixed reaction. It was the beautiful and the most ugliest thing I heard at the same time. That is basically what PE is about.The remix will put a look on your face and contort it, and you be like “Damn, what is it?” Scattershot to me is John Coltrainish. My own thing is like if you don’t make a move like that and go for the conventional stroke and doing something that 10,000 people can do, then my whole thing is like go for the accident. It’s a blessing & it’s a curse. In our case the curse is always worth it. People say;
“…if you do things this way you could’ve had a platinum record…”
and to me I say 'nah', that’s not what it’s about anyway. We would rather take a platinum record on the Ugliness then on the expected move.
DAVEY D-Right! I hear that! Let's talk about Flav’s record 'Can A Woman Make A Man Lose His Mind...His song is the one that seemed to catch everyone’s ear the other night when we played it on our radio show...
It’s got the funk in it. Flav’s record, like you, said made your face contort... It had something that caught everybody’s ear, especially the Funkateers that was in the studio. What was that about? He seemed to really have a lot to say in the that particular song.
CHUCK D- (Laughing)... Well, the one thing that we tried to do was go w/ a topic that’s different. Can a Women Make a Man Lose His Mind, is self explanatory. We all have rolled through that type of topic. As for as the funk is concerned... you should tell Flava that you like it b/c when the final result result came in Flava liked the other Blues type version better. I told him that the Funk version would work better for him. He is always a breath of fresh air. A lot of people want to get away from the soul of PE and go for the funk. Flav is just about the only guy that could ride the funk like that. He’s the originator on that. As for the topic Flav poured all his personal feelings into it. It is gonna be a fun song to perform, once he learns to like the record.
DAVEY D-Flav doesn’t like that record?
CHUCK D- He likes the lyrics. He don’t like the end result.
DAVEY D-Man, that's a dope record. Let me ask you who returns to the PE Camp? What is everybody doing & what is on the album?
CHUCK D- DJ Johnny Juice returns. He runs the studios up in Long Island. We got 4 studios around the country. They are all holes in the wall, they are all digital, they’re all wired together but we are able to record one thing in NY, In fact we have two studios in NY – We call them Motown & Son. The one in ATL were we recorded 'Revolverlution' and 'Son of a Bush' is headed up by Professor Griff who returns. The one down in ATL we call it Stax. The studio out west in California we call it Mountain.
DAVEY D- What is the Son of a Bush record about?
CHUCK D- Son of a Bush is basically about YOUR President. and the fact that this guy cheated to get into office.
We are talking about the aftermath of this Presidency. I wanted to say as a reminder that this guy is the second Bush. I went through the first 12 years of R&B. The first 12 year of R&B from the 1980-1992 was Regan & Bush.
DAVEY D- Hmmmm
CHUCK D-There are all these young guys that think that the president is just the president not even realizing that the past has lead to the present. A lot of cats can’t comprehend that there was a first level of George Bush.
CHUCK D- You have to ask a cat today who is the vice president? Cats would be really scrambled. Then you ask you was the VP when Jimmy Carter was in office? They’d be scrambled. Which means that people today have been sold the present and have been taken right out of their present sense & have their present sold back to them while they are taught to forget the past and pretty much ignore the future.
DAVEY D-In the long run that makes it easier for people to run game on them.
CHUCK D- Of course! It’s a game of playas. Ya know how the playas in the past.. they were real. A playa in the past would look at a young cat and say to him; 'I don’t want you to be like me. Go to school- do something with yourself.. be a lawyer, be a doctor'. Playas back then would have carried young cats and not have knocked them for what they chose to do. Today, you got cats out there with a playa mentality who think that being a playa means to buy some rims, get some hot clothes and pop their collars.
This is how it politically boils down to in a nutshell...and this is what the album Revolverlution is basically about this: The blame could be on the artist or the kids out there. I disagree, I think the major blame is on the transmitter, the disseminators of information. Black people are forced to get their information from a few sources. The blame goes to radio stations and the television networks b/c these are areas that Black people turn to for information and 'know how'. B.E.T. is now owned by Viacom and is almost like a another dimension of Big Brother controlling & dictating how to look, how to act & how to talk, how to do & everything else. When it comes to radio,there are only 3 or 4 corporations that control Black music... Really there are only 3 across the whole country that have subjugated themselves as being the only middleman that speak directly to the Black community.
DAVEY D- Right
CHUCK D- So in the Black community, we get up in arms and riot why? Because sometimes there is a white foot stepping on us and that white foot represents the establishment. So when a Black foot steps on us then we just come up w/ excuses like ,”Well ,uh ya know that is just how we be.” A lot of us don’t realize, okay, there is a Black foot stepping on us but it's attached to a white leg.
CHUCK D- A Black foot just happens to be those Negroes or the Negro attitude that at the end of the day that get our dollars for the White leg of the establishment or corporations at the end of the day. So when it come down to Rap music everybody is talking about.” Well there is a problem. We need you to actually fix the problem”. At the same time, people have had the problem & have put it on a pedestal. How could you put the problem on the pedastal? Glorify it, praise it then at the end of the day figure out that “ Yo man, we gotta do something about his problem.” Then people say ya know people gotta eat, but if you eat and don’t do nothing with what you ate b/c it didn’t have any nutrients then the only thing you do after you eat is ISH!
DAVEY D-I hear that...(Laughing)
CHUCK D-Right?! So if you are eatin’ and ishin’ over everything then what good does it do you eatin’? B/c Hip-Hop was never meant for it to be self centered around one figure or two figures or a click of figures so they could paid & be greedy in the game. The game is meant to be spread for people to actually come in , plant their seed, pick fruit, 10 years, 20 years afterwards & involve new participant, new interactions and new fans. At the same time, the music is being enjoyed and revered. If you got to places like Cuba, they are still playing Sal because it is indigenous to their culture, it means something, it grows to people it keeps the people w/ their head up. It makes the people think that the past has something to do with that. For those who don't know Sal is the music of Cuba.
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