So proud and slightly gobsmacked

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The above means so much to me it’s hard to put into words. As a teenager, Public Enemy were heroic inspirations to me. Cut adrift from the education process and not really sure what I wanted to do with my life, I drifted into all kinds of habits and situations that weren’t good for me at all. But their words and music had a powerfully positive influence on my life. Chuck D’s assertion that rap music is “CNN for black people” was brilliant – the idea that music could be so much more than sappy love songs resonated so strongly with me. I played their It Takes A Nation Of Millions and Fear Of a Black Planet albums over and over, the line “I got a right to be hostile” from Prophets Of Rage bouncing around my angry teenage bonce. They inspired me in so many ways, leading me back through their samples, lyrics and interviews, to many other musicians and to The Autobiography of Malcolm X. On Fight The Power Chuck D boomed that, “Elvis was a hero to most but he never meant shit to me/Straight up racist that sucker was/Simple and plain/Motherf**k him and John Wayne/Cause I’m black and I’m proud/I’m ready and hyped plus I’m amped/Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps.” That last line, particularly, had a huge effect on me, as a British Asian teenager – in a pre-internet era the idea that there was a whole world of culture outside what the mainstream media pushed out was brilliantly subversive.

Over the decades, PE have had the highs and lows of any long-standing creative endeavour. But Chuck D remains a mighty force for pride, positivity, education…the power of knowledge, reading, listening, pushing yourself to fulfil your potential. “Freedom is a road seldom travelled by the multitude” went the Bar-Kays quote PE famously used in Show ‘Em Whatcha Got and he always made it crystal clear that that journey started with getting educated. It’s a journey he’s inspired millions of others to take and continues to do so to this day. Do yourself a favour and follow @MrChuckD on twitter, then go and dig out your PE records. How about starting by sticking this on LOUD…


About antmelder
Executive Creative Director at Host/Havas Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

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