[rohrpost] Eng. Interview mit Chuck D / Public Enemy und deren digitalen Zukunfstplaene: "New (digital) services for the genre instead of ourselves" (Chuck D)

jan hendrik brueggemeier jan at pingfm.org
Fre Jan 14 00:24:20 CET 2011

Liebe Liste,

"New (digital) services for the genre instead of ourselves" (Chuck D)

Eine Audiofassung dieses Interviews mit Chuck D kann (ua.) in Baelde
gehoert werden auf www.reboot.fm.

Ich hoffe die Weiterleitung dieser ansonsten in Englisch gehaltenen Email
stoesst auf wohlwollende Grossmuetigkeit.

In diesem Sinne und alles Beste und ein frohes neues von der Sommerseite
dieses Planeten!

A little note from the editor:
I contacted Chuck directly bypassing the Australian tour management and
appreciate Chuck's determination to squeeze me into PEs extremely busy
touring schedule to make this interview happen.

A short list of web links referred to in the interview:
www.publicenemy.com ; Chucks digital record label: www.slamjamz.com ; the
fan funded music production platform: www.Sellaband.com ; social website
for classic Rap and HipHop: www.HipHopGods.com ; social website for female
Rap and HipHop artists: www.SHEmovement.com and the to-be music
aggregation system: www.SpitDigital.com among others

A .pdf file can be found here:

A .txt file can be found here:


Interview with Chuck D from Public Enemy
- on the occasion of Public Enemies Australian Fear of the Black Planet -
Tour 2010 / 11

questions: Jan Hendrik Brueggemeier (jan at neture dot org)

Chuck D: My Name is Chuck D from Public Enemy No I. What's up, Jan?

JHB: Let's talk about the future, but before we get there. I assume that
you are enjoying the Australian summer on your tour here.

Chuck D: Of course, I am enjoying the Australian summer. It is actually an
extension of the summer that we had coming from South Africa.

JHB: Yes, you were touring South Africa, so how was that?

Chuck D: It was wonderful. It was our first time there. And we have been
asked to come there for 23 years even back in apartheid days when our
music was banned. So it has been a very rewarding experience to be able to
go to South Africa and playing in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and most of all
Soweto and building with the people and doing a special performance there.

JHB: How have you perceived the situation there. And how does it feel in
comparison to the United States?

Chuck D: Well, it seems that the people there are really trying to grow
with a new identity of themselves, but you have to be careful what you
loose in the transition. They come from people that struggled. They call
people born-free instead, who were born after 1992. People that might not
be connected to the struggle of the apartheid and the struggle from the
fight of the past. So that's a whole different world. They are trying to
have the older tell the younger how to go about with the new South Africa.
So it was good going there in 2010 and feeling the people out.

JHB: In terms with the Public Enemy agenda being politically and
culturally independent do you feel it is more rewarding to look at the
South like South America or Africa than actually look around in the U.S.
or Europe?

Chuck D: Yes, it is rewarding, because you see a lot of different
governmental structures do things to people good and bad that you can
learn from and take back to your own people to give them perspective of
what they think what's good or bad and tell them, well, that's going on in
the rest of the world. So you are not the first or you are the first in
some cases. They also can look at the South of the U.S. at a particular
time. Ever since the 1970s you have to look at other places and struggles.

JHB: Talking about independent distribution, independent infrastructure.
Let's talk about the Internet. There is stuff going on. In particular you
are behind or driving certain initiatives and maybe you could tell a
little bit about that.

Chuck D: Well, we started www.publicenemy.com in 1998. I wanted to be able
to reach to people directly and no longer with my record company to
deliver videos and the music to the record company. We wanted to go
directly to our people and that's why we built www.publicenemy.com for a
direct voice.

JHB: You said in 1999 Public Enemy turned independent. What do you exactly
mean with that?

Chuck D: Meaning that you don't have a mayor sponsor that come along and
make you part of the machine, buy your way into TV and all that. We had to
independently find our way to get our music and videos and stuff out
there. And then we left DefJam in 1999 and released the first HipHop mp3
album "There's a Poison Goin' On" on Atomic Pop (now defunct). And then I
started SlamJamz, my digital record label, in 2001 and www.rapstation.com
in 2000. So our whole thing was the delivery over the Internet as being
our freedom.

JHB: Where does it lead to? Is e.g. www.Sellaband.com one consequence of
turning independent?

Chuck D: Right. The beautiful thing about Sellaband is that it can show
that people in your audience can actually become investors of something.

JHB: The act is proposing to produce an album and then is waiting for the
investment through its fans ...

Chuck D: ... to the creation of it, yes. And I think this almost like
having stock into something. So if we put together this album it is almost
an album that is put together by its collaborators. It will be inviting a
lot of different artists and producers from different areas to put
together what they would feel be beneficial to be put together as a Public
Enemy record. We are really looking forward to that.

JHB: You were record breaking for the Sellaband platform, because you
scored 75.000 US$.

Chuck D: Yeah, but I don't think that's thing to hold our hat on. I think
what we want to do is to show that method works and then we gotta still
complete the whole process. It is a long road to finish off. ...

JHB: This is just the beginning ...

Chuck D: It really is. (laughs)

JHB: Turning independent is always related to a business model. How does
Public Enemy operate?

Chuck D: Well, a business model is just as an independent to be able to
understand that you get quality out of each item that you deal with and
not thinking that you have to get something in mass numbers. So if you got
people that understand about making something from the beginning and
carefully making it and not going into this thing that you think you guys
spent a lot of money making it, that's something that we think is a good

JHB: Part of the business as a musician includes then the digital
promotion but there is still touring, live performances, merchandising,
etc ...

Chuck D: All you want is show artists that they can do it. We always have
been able to do it. We want to show artists that they can do it. It is a
lot of effort to do that, man.

JHB: You were involved in the discussion of digital copyright violation.
What is your take on it?

Chuck D: I believe that file sharing is a great way to get the music and
the culture across. Look what is happening now, you got people who do
their own little internet radio shows and something is got to get the
music around. So I think file sharing is a great way. So if someone is a
fan of something they really got to be fan of something. It is like one of
these days where the artist is communicating and the music is
communicating to the artist. So it is interactive. I think this
interactive thing has never happened before. That's the beautiful thing we
need to take home.

JHB: The music and the artist is interacting ...

Chuck D: The music, the artist and the fan are all interacting together.
So like I am just checking some music that is going out there that we have
done and some opinions. Everything is just interactivity

JHB: So it is more about exchange ...

Chuck D: ... cultural exchange.

JHB: ... cultural exchange and joining in the conversation.

Chuck D: Yep.

JHB: But it is also quite a commercial world and a lot of social websites
feel a bit dodgy because of some people involved in them and corporations.

Chuck D: I know, it is a corporate world, but we are still independently.
Like when we built www.HipHopGods.com or www.SheMovement.com these are
small social niches. So we capitalize on this, this very important.

JHB: What is the idea behind HipHopGods.com?

Chuck D: Classic artist have to have a place to go in HipHop and Rap. They
can't go to normal radio or TV stations. We have to have our own thing. So
thats very important.

JHB: You are addressing in particular artists who are in business for more
than 15 years.

Chuck D: Yes, if they make a song, they are always in the studio. We want
to encourage them to make videos and to stay making music. A lot of them
feel like 'Ok, I am making my music but where can I put it'. And that's

JHB: And the SheMovement.com?

Chuck D: For women. Women and HipHop, to have a place to be seen and
promote their music.

JHB: Do you see this as an extension of your label like SlamJamz?

Chuck D: Yes, I do. Although HipHopGods or SheMovement won't have anything
on my label per se but SpitDigital is a aggregation system that we are
setting up, where we gonna allow people to start their own labels on the
digital chip and then be able to go to tune chord and than to iTunes or
Amazon and digital stores. So that's the next revolution to make sure that
artists have the tools for their own digital label.

JHB: As we all grow older while staying more active while growing older
where do see the future of Public Enemy going beyond any 3-5 year plans,
what is the big picture you are imagining?

Chuck D: The big picture is making rapstation.com work as a directory for
all Rap and HipHop shows. The big picture is making HipHopGods.com work
for artists who are established and know that they've got a home. The big
picture is making SheMovement.com work and the big picture is
www.SpitDigital.com. All those four are making new services for the genre
instead of ourselves.