Public Enemy’s Chuck D talks Ice Cube, 2020 election & more
With Public Enemy's powerful new album What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down? out now, Chuck D was a guest on the new episode of podcast Jemele Hill is Unbothered. They talk about the record, Public Enemy's legacy, his relationship with Flava Flav, and, of course, politics.
"When Cube is talking about a contract in the United States, Black America contracts. It’s like, we just can’t be played for the okie-doke," Chuck told Jemele. "You know, when president Obama was elected in 2008, to me, I was one of these. What was going on in my head. This is an hourglass, Obama, right? The sands were always ticking to me. I didn’t vote for him thinking he was going to be Jesus. you bought some time and you got to get it moving."
In keeping with the hourglass analogy, later in the interview, in reference to the current administration, Chuck said, "it's straight up, you know, Black lives do not matter. That's what it is. Black lives don't matter. They don't matter. We don't mind and you don't matter. So you gotta get past that and then be able to deal with that scenario in that 40 days. If you do win, cause you really don't win... Trump...When you got no hourglass, you got no hourglass. You got darkness."
Jemele didn't specifically ask Chuck D to react to Ice Cube's comments in regards to his Contract With Black America and meeting with the Trump administration to help them with their "Platinum Plan." But he did say on Twitter, "IF you’re mad at my bro @icecube YOU have a reason to be very ACTIVE this years VOTE & THINK about WORKing hardass as HELL after Nov 3 especially IF you Black. I KNOW who I’m trying to VOTE out. Last I guessed my bro pays a ton of taxes here BUT especially more than this 45potus."
When a reply accused Ice Cube of criticizing Trump up until recently (and not working with the Obama administration), Chuck wrote, "You sure doors were open for @icecube in that administration? @common worked w 1st lady & politics ripped at him. @CrewGrrlOrder did a song for the 1st lady BUT fears of blacklash prevented the embracing. It’s a different time. Ponder the fact that Cube is POST election thinking."
Elsewhere in the Jemele Hill is Unbothered interview, she asked Chuck about Public Enemy's return to Def Jam after 21 years. "I'm an independent person. We went independent," said Chuck. "We showed people how to get online with their music. I've done work with Def Jam. I mean, you know, this was something that Flavor felt that he didn't want to do the independent thing. That's Public Enemy. I'm going into 2020. I said, okay, we'll make sure that we can figure this out. And it got figured out. You know, when you go into a big major situation, you gotta make concessions. You can't do what you want as an independent, you deal with a lot of people just working with you. So you got to work with a lot of people and it's a different ball of wax. However, in this reachable teachable moment, there's no time for micro differences going in a negative way. So we did this as a group hug."
On the subject of P.E. being elder statesmen in rap, Chuck laughed and said, "When I first started I was old. I was 27 and had my '87," and when asked if he ever imagined the day when hip hop would be the most listened to style of music in the world, he said, "Yeah. That's what made me want to do it. I wanted to challenge the rock boys."
You can listen to the whole Jemele Hill is Unbothered episode below.