Chuck D can talk. And talk. And talk.
The rap icon and provocative activist lectured for over two hours on "Race, Rap and Reality" at Penn Valley Community College on Wednesday night.
I only learned of the event Wednesday evening via a mention on KPRS. I immediately dropped all of my plans- Chuck D is serious business. It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back changed my world view twenty years ago, and Chuck has continued to inspire me ever since. Public Enemy's "Harder Than You Think" was my second-favorite song of 2007.
The introduction provided by the college's president indicated that the event was specifically designed for black men enrolled at the institution. Yet the majority of the 100 or so people in attendance were old-school PE fans.
I disagreed with over half of Chuck's assertions last night. Even so, I wholeheartedly embrace the sensibility behind his beliefs. Besides, Chuck isn't just one of the smartest guys in hip hop; his is one of the most valuable intellects in America.
While he often came across as a crank, sort of like Bill Cosby's cantankerous nephew, Chuck was never less than fully engaging.
Here are a few of his choice quotes:
*On why he'd rather see Barack Obama serve as vice president under Hillary Clinton than win the election: "Barack Obama is the perfect person for the job, but it's just the wrong job for the time."
*On how an Obama presidency would change perceptions: "If Obama gets to be President, that ghetto pass will be revoked."
*On Kansas City: "Kansas City has been the heartbeat of black America."
*On the lack of arts eduction in schools: "The curriculum is twisted... when you got people in Japan and Russia who know Kansas City's music history and kids here have no idea."
*On the state of the music industry: "Record companies are over... The world is digital- it's all evened out."
*On J-Lee of Kansas City's Heet Mob: "He changes the temperature of the room." (Chuck added that J-Lee and KRS-One are his two favorite MCs.)
*On music by the likes of Soulja Boy: "When music just hangs at a 12-year-old level, it doesn't have the intelligence to set you free."
*On his lengthy career: "I'm the Satchel Page of rap- by the time you heard me I was past my prime."
*On the importance of independent thinking: "Hold on to your own minds, because minds are the real estate of the new millenium."
*His wacky conspiracy theory involving prison labor: "The only thing that's going to bring the economy back up is slavery again."
*On the way power brokers perceive black America: "It's mind over matter- they don't mind because we don't matter."
*About Flavor Flav's status as a clown: "You know us black families- there's always one."