If you ever find yourself in a hip hop themed pub quiz, try to make sure Chuck D is on your team. Not only is he one of the greatest and most influential MCs in the history of rap, he’s also blessed with the sort of encyclopedic knowledge and staggering recall that places him among the genre’s foremost historians and custodians. Chuck was there, and he got receipts.
Born Carlton Douglas Ridenhour in Queens, New York in 1960, Chuck formed Public Enemy in the late Eighties. Records like 1988’s “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back” and 1990’s “Fear Of A Black Planet” became instant classics, transforming the genre and proving that hip hop could simultaneously be politically incisive and sonically explosive.
He’s currently looking back on those early years with the launch of a new compilation album, Hip-Hop The Golden Era 1979-1999, which brings together 72 choice cuts from the likes of NWA, Run-DMC, Sugarhill Gang, Eric B & Rakim, the Beastie Boys and, of course, Public Enemy themselves.
But Chuck is looking forwards too. He’ll be back on the road this summer with Prophets Of Rage, a supergroup which also features Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine, B-Real of Cypress Hill, and his longtime Public Enemy collaborator DJ Lord.
Here, he shares his memories of hip hop’s “golden era” before weighing in on the future of the genre – and why Kanye might not have ended up as a Trump supporter if he was following more than one person on Twitter.