For the past 14 years, Public Enemyís Chuck D has spent his winters touring college campuses, lecturing students on topics that interest him as a rap pioneer and political activist. This yearís tour, entitled "Rap, Race, Reality and Technology," will visit ten universities, and made its first stop at John Carroll University, a small Jesuit school outside of Cleveland, Ohio.
Speaking to a group of around 300 students, Chuck D spent over 80 minutes sharing his thoughts on everything from Janetís infamous breast to Tupacís death to the Cleveland Cavalierís LeBron James. At once humorous and prophetic, Chuck D kept the audience attentive and laughing throughout the evening, commenting on his perception of the state of the union and sticking mostly to subjects he knows well, hip-hop culture and its impact on this country.
"Hip-hop has galvanized the world," Chuck D said. "Hip-hop is as American as baseball, Coca-Cola and apple pie."
Over the past quarter-century, Chuck D has seen the world progress from an urban culture allergy to a complete absorption into the mainstream, something he attributed to technological advances: starting with the VCR in the early eighties and now the cyberspace revolution. In 1980 all the stuff in black culture wasnít worth a dime," he said. "But now technology has changed that." Going on to state that the urban image has been distorted in recent years by people trying to profit off the "thug image" with Americaís youth.
"Too many marketing people and business people are putting pressure on the artist to sell, sell, sell," he said. "And now you have children getting home from school at 3 in the afternoon, and watching 4 hours of TV before their parents get home from work, being programmed by media companies to thinking the thug image is cool, and people ask whatís wrong with America."
Chuck D repeatedly challenged the audience to be independent thinkers and to not allow big business to control their lifestyles. Preaching the importance of an education and strong family values, he commended the students in attendance for pursuing a higher education and for expressing their beliefs. Chuck D continued by saying, knowledge overpowers the ignorance involved in marketing, and asked the audience to pursue the facts before making decisions.
Despite a little bit of rambling, Chuck Dís message was poignant and well received, garnering a standing ovation upon completion. It was apparent he is still passionate about the topics close to his heart, and was even more passionate about stirring thought with those willing to listen.