Chuck D: 25 Years Later, Still Fighting The Power

The opportunity came up out of the blue – The Hubby came home and the following conversation ensued: The Hubby: Guess who’s coming to the store to do a signing at the store? MP: (In my usual smart-ass style) Okay, I’ll bite. Who? The Hubby: Chuck D! MP: (Stunned) No! Get out! Really??? The Hubby: Yep. He’s playing at the Ventura Theatre and is coming by the store  before the show to do autographs. MP: THE Chuck D.? Public Enemy Chuck D? Unfiltered with Rachel Maddow and Lizz Winstead Chuck D? AirAmericaChuck D? The Hubby: Yes, one and the same! You should come by and do an interview. MP: I’m there! He didn’t have to tell me twice. And I know, you’re probably wondering, “Why on Earth would this middle-aged, white suburban mom care about Chuck D???” Perhaps a little background info is in order. See, when Public Enemy first hit the scene, I was working in record stores – that was my previous, pre-teaching/blog/radio life, and where I met my husband, 25 years ago. We were working for a chain called Licorice Pizza, run by a man named Jim Greenwood. Licorice Pizza had about 40 stores here in California, and were the coolest job in town. Licorice Pizza was a very employee-friendly company, and they had this benefit called the “borrow book,” everybody’s favorite perk. It was a binder, and as an employee, you could list in this book 10 pieces of product a week to check out – take ‘em home, listen to them…it was a brilliant way to get your employees to know the product, because you would take a chance on things that you might not normally listen to. That’s how I discovered all kinds of music: from big bands of the 40’s to the crooners of the 50’s and 60’s, girl groups, 12′ dance mixes, 45s, to the first CDs. From Public Enemy, to X and Dwight Yoakum, through my punk and country punk phases, to The Violent Femmes, Patsy Cline and REM, we got to hear it all. That was how I first heard Chuck D. When “Yo! Bum Rush The Show!” came out, it was earth-shattering, revolutionary. It was during the Reagan – Bush years, and there was little music out there that was really speaking truth to power like that. And being a politically-minded kid and a bit of a rebel at the time, Public Enemy’s willingness to shake up the status quo was awesome. Seeing an artist use his voice for social change was powerful…and totally rocked. Add that to the fact that rap was something we white suburban kids had never heard before, and we were blown away. So, when the...