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school’ now. Yeah, it’s as different as explaining the difference between Te Beatles vs. Britney Spears. Te Beatles have two deceased members but it doesn’t matter; their music and their art is very relevant right now, right here. We feel that hip hop has similar leanings as far as art forms are concerned, towards its fan base; it has to be worked on.

I’m jealous of anyone across the pond right now, as you’ve announced the King of the Mic Tour [with LL Cool J, Ice Cube and De La Soul], which you’ll tour for a tonne of dates over May, June and July. How did that come together? It came together with LL wanting to tour and all of the agencies involved in the booking coming together. I think you need a super headliner, you need some other people who also used to headline and… [Laughs] it’s funny because initially they put De La Soul - their name – in a smaller font! I was like, “that’s disrespectful to De La Soul, you know”. It’s really a pleasure to be on the tour with these guys.

Do you think you’ll have a whole load of fun on tour with those guys? Yeah, I have fun every day of my life. Tat’s my motto whether I’m on tour or not. Why? If you was on the tour, how much fun would you have?

A metric shit tonne. [Laughs] Tere you go! Exactly.

I read a quote that said, “Public Enemy deliver their signature style with an angst and tenacity typical of men half their age”. You hit the big 5- 0 recently Chuck – do you take it as an insult that they would make note of your advancing years? No, it’s a wonderful thing. Age is a gift; God doesn’t give it out free. Every time he gives you another year, you count your blessings. I’d rather have years than money! [Laughs]

Indeed, if you have your health, you can overcome anything, which was an important message last summer as we were all gripped to the


Paralympic Games. ‘Harder than You Tink’ was used to soundtrack the games, which was amazing - an anthem for strength over adversity… Yeah, it was mind-boggling and it was the UK’s gift back to us. Tat the UK, and those particular powers that be would consider Public Enemy for that, we thank you for that. It was one of those rare tracks that we recorded and it was brilliant from the first take [laughs] – not because of us, not because of me, but the track had a life of its own and the lyric had a life of its own: we’re “Rolling Stones of the rap game, not braggin'.” We’re the Rolling Stones of the rap game and I felt that song was where we were at; it just fitted our 20th year, and it’s fitting that it came back to celebrate our 25th.

Did you think we’d be still fighting the power all these years on? And where do you think the progression is? Te progression has been that I know that there’s an artist community and a hip hop community in the UK that understands that they can’t be the same way that American artists have been, because you’re dealing with a smaller concentration, so you have to be true to the art, and true to the people a little more. Tey can’t be escapists, like the big artists in the United States are still escapists; they don’t talk to the causes, they don’t talk to the people.

But the world felt so small when the Occupy London, Occupy Wall Street and all the other Occupy movements were happening at the same time, Te world was tiny and united then; we were all interconnected, I guess by social media… Oh yeah, all these technical devices have changed the world. Be on top of technology, instead of it be on top of you; it’s been a major, major push in terms of people being webbed together. Te phones, and the pads have just sky rocketed the connectivity between human beings like never before, but we mustn’t let it overtake us – don’t be overwhelmed by it, be aware of it. When you throw a social revolution at it, like Occupy, people can gather really, really fast with the same intent. Tat kind of instills a lot of fear in a lot of different people, for different reasons.

Do you think Public Enemy would have operated in the same way, would have come into our attention if you had the technology we had now, back then? Or would you have done it grass roots, the exact same way? Well, we ushered in this century of revolution because we felt it was the necessary way for us to get out. We had to compromise our message, our music and our art, because the old way stifled our communication. Nowadays you have to accept that you’ve got to communicate with your base, but your base isn’t going to be millions. I’m not saying you can’t do something that’s gonna touch millions of people, but that’s gonna come because of other things – television, radio, traditional media, traditional outlets. If you reach enough people, other apparatus will come along to enable you to reach more.

Emma Garwood

Public Enemy bring the noise to the UEA on April 24th. For tickets, go to

Read the uncut version of this interview at / April 2013/ 13

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