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Chuck D and DMC on hip hop and America Pt.3

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CHUCK D, RAPTAVIST, MEMBER OF PUBLIC ENEMY: Chuck D On The Real Off The Record with the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, the King of Rock.

DARRYL “D.M.C.” MCDANIELS, MEMBER OF RUN-D.M.C.: That’s huge, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Like, to be thinking of a Bruce Springsteen and all the Bono and them, to be, you know, taking Aerosmith records and just rapping over them, and, you know, not even knowing who these guys were personally, about their music, but we knew these guys are famous. This is why, you know, show biz and music is about when you become like Dylan and all of these guys. Now to be in a place with them—.

CHUCK D: And understand the reverence, and understand that, you know, really seriously being shoulder and shoulder with them, ’cause, you know, a lot of times, people are like, “Oh, yeah, though, that’s rock, though.” People that just don’t know enough, knowing the fact that, you know, you’re the beginning and the end, because the records are all, like, you know, like, it’s the records, and you promoted those records, as well as doing those records and making everybody understand that there’s other genres that led up to it at the beginning of it is, you know, the roots of the blues and all that.

D.M.C.: The first questions that we would always get is—this was, like, probably ’84 or ’85—”Where do you see yourselves in five years?” and “Is rap authentic?” We would always get those questions. And just recently, about two years ago, I was asked that in, like, ’85, and I took it personally: “Man, in 10 years I’m going to be back here doing an interview with you.” So, two years, recently, I was doing a press conference, and a guy put his hand up and said, “D.M.C., 15 years ago I asked you, ‘Where do you think you will be in 5 years?’ and you said, ’10 years.’ I am that reporter.”

CHUCK D: Wow.

D.M.C.: But [inaudible]

CHUCK D: That’s big.

D.M.C.: Yeah. I know. That’s huge. But people have got to understand something. Rock and roll and hip hop is brother and sister. Now, if you say hip hop now, people might not think that, because when you say “hip hop,” even when you say “hip hop,” what’s the first thing that comes to your head? The images and concepts over the last 15 years. But for that guy, like you said, who’s sitting home, “Where is this for me?” You say “hip hop” to him, it’s a whole ‘nother paradise that’s going to pop up for him. But, see, we represented the total existence of the B-girl or the B-boy. Who is that? The female that says they’re down with hip hop culture or the male that’s down with hip hop culture, even to the point of it was regardless of race, creed, color, religion, height, or vocation. You know, when a white guy says—. Man, I had a guy who said, “I’m a hillbilly, D. I am a hillbilly. But when I had my Raising Hell cassette, I would go to my cabin in the woods and put it in my tape recorder. And then my mother and father came home one day and said, ‘Let me listen to what [inaudible] the rap thing, or whatever it was called.’ They didn’t like it, because their perception was when gangsta rap and, you know, the negative side of the rap.” But he said he sat there with his mother and father, and they listened to it, and the mother and father was really impressed. They didn’t like the “Hit It Run” “Leave all suckers in the dust/But those dumb emmer-effers—.” It was: “Oh! What’s that?” But that was only one curse, you know, right there. But the whole thing about this whole hip hop culture, we were responsible for our wellbeing. We were responsible for our information. It’s just, like, rap would give some of these kids stuff that they would never hear. But if you look at hip hop right now, they’re getting the same thing over and over and over now. When I say, “You need to say this, my brother,” or, “You need to—,” it’s not a point where I’m hating on you or I’m jealous of the money you’re getting. You need to say it, because if I say it—. That little kid down in Tennessee, for instance, he’s listening to the Ying Yang Twins album. You’ve got to rhyme about something other than strip clubs. [inaudible] what I mean by that is this, not against what they do—.

CHUCK D: Well, if you’re making 14 tracks, at least, you know, some of the tracks should be something else.

D.M.C.: Right. But from this standpoint, if I say it, the kid knows, “Okay, my brother, my older brother, or even my father, that was his generation.” But if the Ying Yang Twins said it, this is all that happens: the kid might go home because you said it, you know, Jeezy, or whoever [inaudible] I could say it, and I’ve been saying it. You know what I’m saying? You could go to my first record I ever made. I said something, said something of substance. But if you say it, that little kid from your neighborhood in Memphis or Tennessee or wherever it was at, that little nine-year-old boy might go home and write something different, because you’re him now.

CHUCK D: That’s what the premise of this show is just straight out one-to-one, because we’ve gotten to a point where the record companies would tell the artists, “We don’t want you talking to the press.”

D.M.C.: Right. “Here’s—this is all you’ve got to do.”

CHUCK D: And I’m like, who’s going to sit with Young Jeezy, respect him as a man, one-to-one, and ask him man questions like what happens, you know, when you go to a PTA meeting with your kid, and then you have, like, 5 million, 10 million people look at this brother in a different light and he’s got to answer that question? ‘Cause, you know, it’s like, really, seriously, if this—you know, you’re a man, so man-to-man or man-to-woman or whatever, you know, in hip hop, if you’re over 20-some years old, like, what—real talk to you. And this, I think, is the biggest vacancy in hip hop, that somebody else who has no connection to us as a people still marionettes our existence, and especially in hip hop as a music. I want to go into other areas of asking, you know, about the music, ’cause, you know, you ask somebody today, and they’re fragmented in their own little existence. And the same week we had Barack Obama inaugurated, you know, a lot of people were talking about, well, they had to rush to go to the movies to see Notorious just because a big film company has the life of Biggie.

D.M.C.: Of Biggie.

CHUCK D: And we talk about Run-D.M.C. hit the films, you know, were the first rap group to hit the films hard, with Krush Groove and then so on. This tells about those beginnings, and then also what we had talked about—you talked about the broke ’80s, because one thing I was proud of you, in the talks of the last century, Peter Jennings and ABC had the talks of—you know, had the theme The Century, and you was a highlighted voice talking about how crack had invaded just the black community, and they depended on you to open up the doors and really be a voice, and you were such a great voice, explaining the attitude and sentiment and the conditions of the time.

D.M.C.: Well, I mean, in the ’80s, when we was coming up, it was—especially us from suburban, lower-middle-class Queens, rap just invaded our neighborhood. Now, we was in Queens, but to hear the guys from—. You know, for us it was, like, “The Bronx and Harlem.” It was like, you know, “We’ve got it kind of good out here. But do you hear what these guys are saying to us?” You know, they hear Moe Dee, who was like God. He was [inaudible] on the mic battle: “Kool Moe Dee, as you can see/I rock the world society/But at the end, you will agree/Nobody rocks his mic like me”—just the crazy rap stuff. But I’m sitting here—I think I was probably 12 years old—and Moe Dee and Treacherous Three, you know, they was like gods to us. But then Moe Dee and them did the record Yes We Can-Can. What was Obama’s slogan?

CHUCK D: “Yes we can,” which was [inaudible]

D.M.C.: Now, 20 years ago, 20 years ago, Kool Moe Dee and the Treacherous Three made that record, “I know we can make it/I know that we can/I know—.” They did a remake of that. It started, “Evil destruction, tax deduction/Price inflation rocks the nation/And unemployment is on the rise.”

CHUCK D: Not to cut you off, isn’t it shameful that all of the people that call themselves the homes of hip hop, R&B, and urban radio, whatever “urban” means, could not, like, incorporate that into the psyche of a rap, the newest rap, or any rap generation?

D.M.C.: Right, did not speak on those issues. They could speak on everything else. But then Moe Dee did something that changed my life at 12 years old. I’m listening to the record. OYou know, they’re talking about the present. Everything is happening right now—price inflation, people losing jobs. But then Moe Dee did something that was real powerful to me. He said on his freestyle, when it was his turn to go freestyle, he said, “Once a nobody from the neighborhood/Took a hop to the top ’cause I knew that I would/Excel over the rest, because I make progress/I don’t consider it luck, because I’m not blessed.” He said, “I got my life all together, love the way that I live/Go to school, really cool, and I think positive/’Cause it’s the right to have fun, lots of pleasures and joys/But it’s the brain that separates the men from the boys.” He was a boy! And he was putting that on the mic. I had to pull the needle back and rewind that over and over, and I was like, “How could this guy from the Bronx who has less than me—I go to Catholic school, got a basketball—how could this guy from the South Bronx and these guys from Harlem be talking about this?” It existed. It existed. It will always exist. Hip hop could never die. How could hip hop die if I’m alive and Moe alive and you’re alive and Nas is still alive? All those ideas and concepts and all that information exists, but nobody of this generation currently doing hip hop is talking about it, so people in the last 15 years don’t think that’s a part of what we should be doing.

CHUCK D: Well, also, of course, the country, would you also add to the fact that people had dreams for what money couldn’t buy? And now, since, you know, we—and thenwent through the ’90s and the bling and the shine, so that the whole thing was to get money. But since the money has come down and dollar has dropped and the money is disappearing, and do you think dreams will be reestablished in hopes of what money can’t buy—and that’s knowledge, wisdom, understanding, or even what Barack Obama presented to the fact that I got a inside confidence on myself, and this is what I have, and you can’t buy what I have, my self-esteem?

D.M.C.: Well, it’s like you said earlier: we need 150 of us to go, “Hip hop did not just create rappers to get money,” because before hip hop it was even a drug game, the stick-up game, or whatever. School! You know what I’m saying? But once hip hop came along, everybody thought everybody wants to be a rapper. But hip hop created journalists, designers, some of the graffiti writers who was illegally writing on walls—these kids don’t know it’s that guy, Phase 1, is the guy designing your Nikes that you’re putting on. We got directors that’s in hip hop. We got doctors. We got lawyers. I try to tell the kids, “If you look at these rappers of this generation, every time I see one, they’re in court.” And I tell the kid, “You see that man standing next to him? Now, if that rapper sold 3 million albums last year, made X amount of dollars, but he’s in court all year, where do you think that money’s coming? To that man with the briefcase, ’cause he got whips and mansions too.” But of course it’s going to go back to the money. Of course it’s going to go to—. But, listen, we were getting money for doing something that we love. But we knew, no matter how extreme you get, we always knew we had a responsibility. I tell kids, “Yo, hey, Puffy and Bad Boy and Def Row, listen. We lived the sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle. But because of the responsibility, we never put none of those images and concepts on our records, and we were still successful.”

CHUCK D: Right. And going against those standards is almost like cheating. We’ll be back with more D.M.C., the King of Rock, when we return On The Real and Off The Record.

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