Fernando Leon/Getty Images
Chuck D of Public Enemy.
Too many surrender their minds to corporate interests. You can make a better CD than any record company. Canada is very close to committing a world crime. Fearless, empowering dialogue like that tends to come from Chuck D.
Ready for more? You’ll get it when the Public Enemy co-founder, born Carlton Douglas Ridenhour, appears for a keynote address on Saturday at the Royal York Hotel as part of Canadian Music Week and tonight at the Docks, a gig making up part of the group’s 57th tour.
With more than 20 years in the music business, the author (working on a second book called Lyrics Of A Rap Revolutionary) and president of his label slamjamz.com (where Public Enemy’s new material resides among those of other acts of the genre) the authoritative rap icon will talk on independent artists, downloads, and the floundering record business.
“I’m a firm believer that the music business is healthy but the record business for the last seven years has not been. It has been an illusion,” Chuck D, now 46, says. “A lot of people were thinking that downloading would never have an impact on the buying of a record and I said, ‘Well, I don’t exactly see anyone buying any 45s anymore.’”
Along with his insight on music, you may also get a healthy dose of Chuck D’s progressive leanings. Frequently calling governments “the cancer of civilization,” the media pundit and political activist lectures at universities in the U.S. to warn listeners of the dangers of mass-consumerism and corporate control.
“Corporations want human beings to turn into consumers because they judge by their quantity instead of their quality. And they’re not necessarily concerned about how happy they are.”
His assertions won’t be limited to the U.S., of course. Chuck D also has a few ideas about the kind of Canada he would like to see: Share and share alike, as they say.
“Canada is truly a country that could use 50 million more people,” he says. “The amount of land, the amount of accessible water that it has is almost criminal, a world crime. It’s a place where more people could live and not be packed in other areas of the world.”