Chuck D Talks Rock Hall Induction, 2 Chainz, And Challenging Hip-Hop’s Status Quo

With the recent induction of hip-hop legends Public Enemy ( into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Chuck D, the outspoken frontman of the politically-charged group, sat down with VIBE for an unfiltered, barebones interview. Here, the Rhyme Animal, in his own words, discusses P.E. joining the likes of the late disco-pop icon Donna Summers and influential prog-rock trio Rush into the pantheon of music royalty, his views on 2 Chainz and today’s mainstream rap star making machine, and how the iconic MC and businessman is changing the game with his groundbreaking Hip-Hop Gods tour.—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)

Being inducted [into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] makes me feel honored. But I think Public Enemy is already revered around the world. We are revered in the United States and we have been revered among other genres of music. It’s just the hip-hop media that is on some, “We don’t know this shit.” [laughs] As music writers…how stupid can you be? When it comes to live performance I was taught by the best…artists like Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Doug E. Fresh and Anthrax. So I don’t care who somebody gets on the stage…forget about it. Some people who are writers about hip-hop and people that blog were like, “I don’t know about [Public Enemy] being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…they only had about two or three big records.” And I’m like, “Are you stupid? We are not judged by fucking records.”

Public Enemy is judged by making a song that you may not like and making you like it without radio beating you over the head. I don’t brag on myself. This is my team. Flavor Flav is not a fucking joke…he’s one of the best live performers in hip-hop…you can get Yeezy, Jeezy or whoever. Flav created the hypeman role; he can literally play any instrument and he moves the crowd. People might get it twisted because they saw him in a couple of television shows, but that’s his day job.

What the fuck I care about some rock people [saying hip-hop doesn’t belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame]? Tell them to put their best band on a stage and put them next to Public Enemy and they will see. What are they going to do better than us? I’m influenced by people like Metallica who don’t give a damn about what they say or do. When they come in, get the fuck out the way…their aim is to make you scared. Not with this forced trauma and bullshit…they scare you with the standard of their performance. That’s the world P.E. is in. Public Enemy is not in the world of what kind of car we are driving to the arena or having an issue of some silly beef with another rapper. That’s some stupid 8th grade shit. I’m at an age that if I can’t teach I shouldn’t even open up my mouth and speak. If I’m going to be onstage my aim is to leave you awestruck like, “I can’t even understand how somebody can do that.”

I’ve toured all around the world. But the way that hip-hop has been treated around this country, and classic hip-hop at that, is atrocious. You really don’t hear people questioning, “Damn, what’s up with the negligence about it?” It doesn’t mean that today’s mainstream artists are not talented. They are. But the negligence comes in all those other areas. What hip-hop tour has gone from East to West in the last 10 years as of note? This is what I do. In order for me to come back into the United States and call my peers I just separate the classic artists away from the monstrosity that corporations have turned hip-hop into. It’s neglectful if the media doesn’t cover the artform from the top to the bottom equally and fairly.

I don’t blame 2 Chainz for being what he is. I blame the coverage of it like, Yo, who the fuck is covering this and for what? And for what reason? Because it’s a phenomenon? I’m like, “Great.” But there’s a classic circuit that records now, goes around the world, and they are doing things in the community. My job is to get them consolidated. That’s why we created the Hip-Hop Gods tour. A lot of artists have hit me up saying, “Look, can you show us how to do the Hip Hop Gods tour format?” I tell them that you gotta have 15 years under your belt. I got the idea from classic rock radio in the 70’s when they wanted to separate the Led Zeppelin’s from the Chuck Berry’s from the Boston’s and the Peter Frampton’s who were mainstream rock at the time. We are planning on doing four or five Hip Hop Gods tours a year of different terrains and different tier levels of artists. Touring is not a one-off thing.

I salute these artists that came on every night and performed. Schoolly D is a pioneer and amazing…one of the first hip-hop artists that owned his own record label. Monie Love, she has a show on SiriusXM going on its sixth year of Ladies First…she’s a groundbreaker. Wise Intelligence of Poor Righteous Teachers, X Clan, Son of Berzerk…these are people I happen to know. Awesome Dre, who actually pioneered recording in Detroit way before Eminem and Royce The 5’9”. They had to get it from somewhere.

I’m tired of these publications and blogs niggarizing these artists. All of these magazines like VIBE have to show a better respect towards the totality of hip-hop. That’s why I called the tour Hip-Hop Gods. Hip-hop’s structure seems to follow the wag. Somebody that is 38-years-old trying to cover somebody that is 22. Where does this fit? So I just told my peers, “Let me structure this.” You see today’s artists who get backed by corporations and who are backed by corporate radio all day and pimped by the same company and you talk to fans who go to these shows that’s always backed by a radio conglomerate. And when you ask them after coming to one of our shows, “How was that other concert at $115 a ticket?” And they would be like, “Um, it was alright…a lot of explosions.” That’s the artist’s fault that they are not managing that aspect of the art. This is performance art, and we have been straying away from it.

Fleetwood Mac is playing every single arena at 15,000 people. And they are not talking about being the no. 1 thing running around like the Rolling Stones are doing in their 50th anniversary year. So why does it have to be niggarized when it’s down to VIBE and other [urban media outlets]? That shit is unacceptable to me. I’m a big sports fan. We have nothing but brothers in the NBA, but David Stern is making sure that the NBA is not niggarized. If you are acting a fool off the court or you are cursing during a post or pre-game interview they will tell you, “You know what…you dishonor the game, you are getting fined.”

Fifty-three artists have hit me up about being on the next Hip-Hop Gods tour. It’s going to be different lineups…four or five rotating across the country at different times. And we are going to make the tour a two-week limit. We got something planned. Everything I do is classic. I’m looking to throw old school out of the window and put classic on every time you see an artist that is 15 years and more in the music industry. I don’t mind being called old as a person [laughs]. But when it comes to the brand of hip-hop these people should be revered as gods. If there is such thing as a rock god, then there’s such thing as a hip-hop god.—As Told To Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Is Expected To Make $64 Million Opening Weekend

Thanks to Us, Jordan Peele has another blockbuster on his hands. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the highly-anticipated horror flick starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, is expected to have a $64 million opening weekend at the domestic box office.

Peele’s sophomore horror film earned an impressive $7.4 million on Thursday (March 21) night previews, and is forecasted to take in about $27 million from Friday sales. The film is also on pace to knock Captain Marvel out of the No. 1 spot at the box office.

Once final numbers are tallied, Us will likely snatch the third-best opening weekend record for an R-rated horror film behind It, which brought in a whopping $123.4 million, followed by Halloween’s $76.2 million opening weekend last year.

Aside from rave reviews and a genius promo run that included simultaneous screenings in major media markets, Us earned a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film, set in the mid-1980s centers around a family of four who set off on a vacation that finds them confronting some familiar faces.

Peele recently spoke to VIBE about casting Duke (our April 2019 cover star) in the role of patriarch, Gabe Wilson. “I have to have somebody voice what the audience was saying,” he said. “In the case of Get Out, it’s Rod, like, ‘How have you not left yet?’ [In Us], Winston is largely that voice. There’s one moment where Lupita [Nyong’o] takes a step into the unknown, where black people [will think], ‘I don’t know.’ But to have Winston say, ‘Aaaand she left. Your mother just walked out of the car.’ That’s all we need.”

Duke also opened up about the intricacies of his character. “His function isn’t to see through the veil. His function is to tell the absolute truth how he sees it,” explained the 32-year-old actor. “He’s sometimes there to say the things that other people don’t want to say, but he’s also there to make fun of things to keep it from not getting too heavy, even though it’s real. That was my job. [Peele] respected that. I like to lean into functions. If I’m going to be your antagonist, I’m gonna really push you. If I’m gonna be your clown, funny guy, I’m gonna do that.”

Click here to read VIBE’s April 2019 cover story.

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Cardi B Explains Why She Wants To Trademark “Okurrr”

Cardi B hopes to secure as many “bags” as possible. In response to backlash and burning questions surrounding her decision to file to trademark “okurrr,” the 26-year-old rapper took to social media Friday (March 22) to defend her latest money move.

Since people tend to ask Bardi to use what has become her signature catch phrase, she figured that it was time to cash in. “You think I ain’t gonna’ profit off this sh*t? B*tch white folks do it all the motherf**king time,” she said. “So you gon’ be mad at me ‘cuz I want to get some motherf**king money?

“While I’m still hear I’ma secure all the fucking bags,” Cardi continued before adding that there are a “lot of ways to get rich” in 2019.

The Bronx native caught heat for wanting to trademark the word because she wasn’t the first to say “okurrr.” Cardi already revealed that she started using it after she heard Khloe Kardashian saying it, but the word was originally popularized in drag culture -- most notably by Rupaul’s Drage Race contestant Laganja Estranja, in 2014.

However, Rupaul attributed the word to Broadway actress, Laura Bell Bundy, who used it in YouTube skits dating back to 2010. In the skits, Bundy pretends to be a hairdresser named “Shocantelle Brown.”

Although Bundy caught criticism for her little character, which was deemed racist, she typically gets credit for bringing “okrrr” (different spelling) to the internet a full decade before Cardi made it mainstream.

No matter the origin, it looks like Cardi will be the only one profiting off of “okurrr.”


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Kanye West, EMI Working Towards Private Settlement

Kanye West and EMI could be close to settling their legal drama. Each party filed documents requesting a stay of the case to “explore the potential for a resolution,” The Blast reports.

West sued EMI in an effort to “gain freedom” from his contract, and to own his publishing. In the lawsuit, ‘Ye argued that his contract ended in 2010 under California law, which bars entertainers from being tethered to an agreement for more than seven years. The multi-Grammy winner, who signed the deal back in 2003, also accused the company of slavery because the contract doesn’t allow him to retire.

“Even if the contract were not lopsided in EMI’s favor (it is), even if its terms valued Mr. West’s artistic contributions in line with the spectacular success he has achieved for EMI (they do not), and even if EMI had not underpaid Mr. West what it owes him (EMI has), he would be entitled to be set free from its bonds,” the lawsuit reads.

EMI hit back with a countersuit filed in New York, instead of California. The suit pointed out that the 41-year-old rapper signed multiple contract extensions, in addition to accepting millions in advances.

According to The Blast, West and EMI now feel that putting a hold on the legal proceedings will be beneficial to both sides “and the Court by enabling the parties to engage in meaningful discussions in an attempt to resolve this action without having to incur the burden and expense of litigation and motion practice.”

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