Episode 30. Chuck D


“Everything in the past has to be processed for the present and the future.”
– Chuck D

June 4, 2019

Ventura, California

The Great Song Adventure is proud to present a brand new interview with Chuck D.

Chuck D loved radio and television broadcasting growing up. Born Carlton Douglas Ridenhour, in Roosevelt, Long Island, Chuck D’s parents were both political activists. As the leader of Public Enemy, he helped create politically and socially conscious hip hop music in the mid-1980s and Public Enemy’s groundbreaking body of work established Chuck D as one of the most intelligent, articulate spokesmen for the black community. The Source ranked him at No. 12 on their list of the Top 50 Hip-Hop Lyricists of All Time.

He began writing rhymes after the New York City blackout of 1977. He went to Adelphi University on Long Island to study graphic design, where he met William Drayton (Flavor Flav). While in school, he put his talents to use making promotional flyers for hip-hop events, and went on to co-host a hip-hop mix show on the campus radio station with two future Public Enemy cohorts, Bill Stephney and Hank Shocklee. He rapped on Shocklee’s demo recording, “Public Enemy No. 1,” which caught the interest of Rick Rubin at Def Jam. Chuck D thought making an album was beneath what he really wanted to do: he loved radio and wanted to go into broadcasting. Rick Rubin persisted in pursuing him and eventually Chuck D founded Public Enemy, a group designed to support the force of his rhetoric with noisy, nearly avant-garde soundscapes. In 2016, The Prophets of Rage was assembled and still performs with it’s line-up today. With B-Real on vocals, Tom Morello on lead guitar, Tim Commerford on bass guitar and backing vocals, DJ Lord on turntables and backing vocals, and Brad Wilk on drums and percussion, Chuck D continues to tour the world with his message. 

In this brand new interview with The Great Song Adventure, Chuck D”s words and stories in this conversation overflow with countless quotable life lessons: “You’re an owner of what you don’t say and you’re a slave to what you do say”,  “talent is something you gotta learn how to manifest into a skill”, “if you change nothing, nothing will change”. 

Chuck D, with his gift of words and voice, is a much-revered fearless leader and mentor who loves to inspire younger people and thrives on collaboration and community.