Chuck D gives students ‘props’

Marlene Brueggemann

In a world of commercialism where reality is often distorted and people make statements based on images and perception, one of hip-hop’s pioneers offered a simple message last night: Your mind is the only thing that’s truly yours.

Chuck D gave students an elaborate insight into his thoughts on “Rap, Race, Reality and Technology” in a two-hour lecture at near-packed Downing University Center Theater.

Chuck D, who was not shy on the usage of explicit language, showed himself as not only a performer but also a hip-hop scholar. Consumerism is used as a means of controlling and packaging hip-hop to a new-school generation who does not know where it came from and who cannot think for themselves, he said.

“There is an anti-intellectual attitude going around in this country,” he said.

He emphasized the importance of college students “thinking outside of the box” and drew parallels through hip-hop language.

For example, he talked about how much of the music of hip-hop artists today is all about buying into the commercial aspects and using those themes in their lyrics. He countered that empty intellectual practice by saying “you cannot freestyle knowledge.”

He seemed to have the unique ability to relate hip-hop culture to a diverse audience – regardless of their previous knowledge on the subject or lack thereof.

“Culture, it is the universal communication,” he said. “Culture brings humans beings, the human race together for the similarities we have … and not for the differences to the sides. That’s the beautiful thing about culture.”

Chuck D, the front man of the rap group Public Enemy, has been lecturing for 14 years. In 1996, his solo album “The Autobiography of Mista Chuck” made its debut. In 2003, Chuck D received a Rock the Vote Patrick Lippert Award, which recognizes artists who dedicate themselves to bringing about social and political change.

Azurdee Garland, assistant to the Campus Activities Board, said besides his celebrity status, Chuck D’s notoriety was appealing to students.

There were light-hearted moments in the lecture as well. He made side jokes about students leaving during his talk and about music networks MTV and BET – referring to them as “empty V” and “Booty En Thugs.”

“I think they are also interested in hearing his opinions,” Garland said.

Russellville sophomore Angela Stratton attended the lecture for her sociology class.

“I really, really enjoyed it,” Stratton said.

Hopkinsville freshman Torrence K. Douglas said he expected D to inspire him to do more in the community and gain more knowledge of politics.

“I thought the lecture was wonderful,” Douglas said. “I thank Western for using Chuck D as a vessel to expound on various things that I needed to know as an individual in the community and in the country.”

Reach Marlene Brueggemann at [email protected].