Chuck D: Wikis


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Chuck D

Chuck D and Flavor Flav performing at the Bilbao Urban Musikaldia, Vista Alegre bullring on October 8, 2006.
Background information
Birth name Carlton Douglas Ridenhour
Also known as Carl Ryder (as a member of production team The Bomb Squad), Mistachuck, Chucky D, Chuck Dangerous, The Hard Rhymer, The Rhyme Animal, Crunk Bitchicana
Born August 1, 1960 (1960-08-01) (age 49)
Origin Roosevelt, New York
Genres Hip hop
Occupations Musician, Rapper, Publisher, Lecturer, Producer
Instruments Rapping
Years active 1982-Present
Associated acts Public Enemy, Confrontation Camp, Fine Arts Militia Immortal Technique

Carlton Douglas Ridenhour (born August 1, 1960), better known by his stage name, Chuck D, is an American rapper, author, and producer. He helped create politically and socially conscious rap music in the late 1980s as the leader of the rap group Public Enemy.


Early life

Ridenhour was born in Roosevelt, Long Island.[1] After graduating from Roosevelt Junior-Senior High School, he went to Adelphi University in Long Island to study Graphic Design. He is the son of Lorenzo Ridenhour


Upon hearing Ridenhour's demo track "Public Enemy Number One", fledgling producer/mogul Rick Rubin insisted on signing him to his Def Jam label.[2]

Chronologically, their major label albums were: Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987), It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988), Fear of a Black Planet (1990), Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black (1991), Greatest Misses (1992), and Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age (1994). They also released a full length album soundtrack for the film He Got Game in 1998. Ridenhour also contributed (as Chuck D) to several episodes of the PBS documentary series The Blues. He has appeared as a feature artist on many other songs and albums, having collaborated with artists such as Janet Jackson, Kool Moe Dee, The Dope Poet Society, Run-DMC, Ice Cube, Rage Against The Machine and many others. In 1990, he appeared on "Kool Thing", a song by the alternative rock band Sonic Youth. In 1993, he executive produced Got 'Em Running Scared, an album by Ichiban Records group "Chief Groovy Loo and the Chosen Tribe".[3]

Later career

In 1996, Ridenhour released Autobiography of Mistachuck on Mercury Records. In November 1998, he settled out of court with Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G" Wallace's estate over the latter's sampling of his voice in the song "Ten Crack Commandments". The specific sampling is Ridenhour counting off the numbers one to nine on the track "Shut Em Down".[4]

In September 1999, he launched a multi-format "supersite" on the web site A home for the vast global hip hop community, the site boasts a TV and radio station with original programming, many of hip hop's most prominent DJs, celebrity interviews, free MP3 downloads (the first was contributed by multi-platinum rapper Coolio), downloadable ringtones by ToneThis, social commentary, current events, and regular features on turning rap careers into a viable living. Since 2000, he has been one of the most vocal supporters of Internet music file sharing in the music industry.

He loaned his voice to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as DJ Forth Right MC for the radio station Playback FM. In 2000, he collaborated with Public Enemy's Gary G-Whiz and MC Lyte on the theme music to the television show Dark Angel. He appeared with Henry Rollins in a cover of Black Flag's "Rise Above" for the album Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three. He was also featured on Z-Trip's album Shifting Gears on a track called Shock and Awe; a twelve inch of the track was released featuring artwork by Shepard Fairey. He recently contributed a chapter to Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture (The MIT Press, 2008) edited by Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky. Recently he contributed to The Go! Team's album Proof of Youth on the track "Flashlight Fight." In 2008 he fulfilled his childhood dreams of being a sports announcer by performing the play-by-play commentary in the video game NBA Ballers: Chosen One on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

In 2009, Ridenhour wrote the foreword to the book The Love Ethic: The Reason Why You Can't Find and Keep Beautiful Black Love by Kamau and Akilah Butler. He also appeared on Brother Ali's album, "Us".[5]

Rapping technique

Chuck D has noted that he often comes up with a title for a song first, in the books How to Rap and Check the Technique[6][7], and that he writes on paper, though he sometimes edits using a computer[8]. He also prefers to not punch in vocals[9], and he prefers to not overdub vocals[10]. Chuck D is known for his powerful rapping voice - How to Rap says, “Chuck D of Public Enemy has a powerful, resonant voice that is often acclaimed as one of the most distinct and impressive in hip-hop[11], and Chuck D says this was based on listening to Melle Mel and sports-casters[12].


Ridenhour is extremely politically active; he co-hosted Unfiltered on Air America Radio, testified before Congress in support of peer-to-peer MP3 sharing, and was involved in a 2004 rap political convention. He continues to be an activist, publisher, lecturer, and producer. Addressing the negative views associated with rap music, he co-wrote the essay book Fight the Power: Rap, Race, and Reality, along with Yusuf Jah (ISBN 0-385-31868-5). He argues that "music and art and culture is escapism, and escapism sometimes is healthy for people to get away from reality", but sometimes the distinction is blurred and that's when "things could lead a young mind in a direction."[13] He also founded the record company Slam Jamz and acted as narrator in Kareem Adouard's short film Bling: Consequences and Repercussions, which examines the role of conflict diamonds in bling fashion.

In an interview with Le Monde published 29 January 2008 [14], Chuck D stated that rap is devolving so much into a commercial enterprise, that the relationship between the rapper and the record label is that of slave to a master. He believes that nothing has changed for African-Americans since the debut of Public Enemy and, although he thinks that an Obama-Clinton alliance is great, he does not feel that the establishment will allow anything of substance to be accomplished. He also stated that French President Sarkozy is like any other European elite: he has profited through the murder, rape, and pillaging of those less fortunate and he refuses to allow equal opportunity for those men and women from Africa. In this article, he also defended a comment made by Professor Griff in the past that he says was taken out of context by the media. The real statement was a critique of the Israeli government and its treatment of the Palestinian people. Chuck D stated that it is Public Enemy's belief that all human beings are equal.

In an interview with the magazine N'Digo published in late June 2008, he spoke of today's mainstream urban music seemingly relishing in the addictive euphoria of materialism and sexism, perhaps being the primary cause of many people harboring resentment towards the genre and its future. However he has expressed hope for its resurrection, saying "It’s only going to be dead if it doesn’t talk about the messages of life as much as the messages of death and non-movement", citing artists such as NYOil, M.I.A. and the The Roots as socially conscious artists who push the envelope creatively. "A lot of cats are out there doing it, on the Web and all over. They’re just not placing their career in the hands of some major corporation."[15]

Most recently Chuck D became involved in Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights, a 3-CD box set from Time Life. He wrote the introduction to the liner notes and is visiting colleges across the nation discussing the significance of the set. He's also set to appear in a follow up movie called Let Freedom Sing: The Music That Inspired the Civil Rights Movement.

Personal Life

Chuck D is married to Gaye Teresa Johnson, who is a professor in the Department of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.[16][17]

TV appearances

Film appearances

  • He is the narrator of the 2006 documentary Quilombo Country, directed by Leonard Abrams.
  • He is prominently featured in Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a 2006 documentary by Byron Hurt.
  • He is prominently featured in the 2008 film The Black Candle, directed by M.K. Asante, Jr. and narrated by Maya Angelou.
  • He is featured in a web- mini series called On The Real Off The Record, produced by, The Real News Network, June 1, 2009 - .
  • He played a bank robber named "Malcolm Y" in an unused plotline for the movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which was eventually released straight-to-DVD as Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie.


With Public Enemy

Chuck D


  1. ^ [ VH1: Chuck D cdenzel biography]
  2. ^ "Hip-hop, you don't stop". The Observer Music Monthly, 18 June 2006.
  3. ^ Chief Groovy Loo And The Chosen Tribe
  4. ^ Public Enemy's Chuck D Settles B.I.G. Copyright Suit | News |
  5. ^ Kam Williams (30 June 2009). "The Love Ethic". Retrieved 30 June 2009. 
  6. ^ Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 31.
  7. ^ Coleman, Brian. Check The Technique: Liner Notes For Hip-Hop Junkies. New York: Villard/Random House, 2007, p. 360.
  8. ^ Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 143.
  9. ^ Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 280.
  10. ^ Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 282.
  11. ^ Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 248.
  12. ^ Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 248.
  13. ^ Griffin Morrow is my homie Chuck D: The D is for Dangerous
  14. ^ : Chuck D Le rap sans strass
  15. ^ Muhammad, Cinque. "Hip-Hop Conspiracy? Critics charge conscious rap is silenced." N'Digo Online. June 26, 2008 - July 02 2008. Retrieved July 05, 2008. Available online
  16. ^ Ceccato, Michael (2010-02-05), "Chuck D raps a new game to Sac State students", Sacramento Press,, retrieved 2010-03-04 
  17. ^ "Gaye Theresa Johnson". Biography. University of California, Santa Barbara. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  18. ^ A discussion of the music wars on the internet. Charlie Rose, 12 May 2000.
  19. ^ Newsnight debate on unity in America, rapper Chuck D says "President Obama has set out a challenge to people everywhere." [1]

External links

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