Chuck D, Flava Flav and the rest of the Public Enemy crew play Made in America

Hip-hop legends Public Enemy will be on stage at Made in America.  Credit: Piero F. Giunt
Hip-hop legends Public Enemy will be on stage at Made in America.
Credit: Piero F. Giunt

Chuck D of hip-hop legend Public Enemy has a suggestion for the upcoming Made in America festival.

“We’ve nicknamed it ‘Made in Philadelphia,’” Chuck D says. “Because we’re made in Philadelphia, we’re not made in America.”

“Started spreading that word. We’re not made by Budweiser or Live Nation.”

Chuck D — aka Roosevelt, N.Y., native Carlton Ridenhour — was hugely influenced by the ’70s era Sound of Philadelphia growing up.

“Those are my mentors — Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff. They had a message in their music and their music was brilliant,” Chuck D says. “To me, they’re a part of my life, they’re a part of the blood and culture I live and breath in. The Sound of Philadelphia, it goes without saying, is the soundtrack to my teenage life.”

Public Enemy, which includes hype man Flavor Flav, plays Saturday at this year’s Made in America festival. The group, whose hits include “Don’t Believe the Hype,” “911 Is a Joke” and “Fight the Power,” was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April.

“It was very gratifying because we’ve always stood up for our genre to be accepted as real music,” Chuck D says. “We decided early on to make a groundbreaking difference in our music, our lyrics and the application of what we thought about us as a people amongst people and human beings.”

On the music side, the densely mixed sonic squall that underscored the Public Enemy hits, courtesy of Hank Shocklee-led Bomb Squad, was a precursor to the EDM of today. Also, their 1991 collaboration with Anthrax on Bring the Noise all but created the Nu-Metal genre of music.

“We’re one of 36 groups on the first ballot [to be inducted into the Hall],” Chuck D says. “It wasn’t because we were competing against Deep Purple, Kiss or whoever, it’s because we’re at the top of our genre for being groundbreaking. There’s a lot of naysayers who say they should be in a music hall of fame instead of a rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame. I say rock ‘n’ roll all comes from the blues and you have to pay attention to the black creativity, that’s what it is.”


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