A Word From Chuck D On Record Store Day

Exclusive: RSD Ambassador discusses the revolutionary role of record stores and how they contributed to the early development of Public Enemy
  • Photo: Tommaso Boddi/WireImage.com
    Chuck D
April 15, 2014 -- 3:20 pm PDT

Music retail's annual worldwide celebration, Record Store Day, is set to take place April 19 at independent record stores around the world. But before music fans and artists alike flock to record stores to snag one of the many limited-edition releases, GRAMMY.com has an exclusive interview with 2014 Record Store Day Ambassador Chuck D. Taking place at Amoeba Music in Los Angeles with Nick Huff Barili of HardKnock.TV, Chuck D discussed what inspired his involvement in Record Store Day, witnessing the event evolve firsthand and the role record stores played in the early development of his GRAMMY-nominated group Public Enemy.

"From the beginning of Public Enemy's time, we've always participated in record store signings [and] performances," said Chuck D. "Record stores were major in the early development of Public Enemy all the way to the last performance that we did in a record store, which was Rough Trade in London." 

Born Carlton Douglas Ridenhour in New York, Chuck D formed Public Enemy — considered one of the most influential rap groups of all time — while studying graphic design at Adelphi University in Long Island, N.Y. Public Enemy emerged in the late '80s with lyrics that centered around social issues, particularly those affecting the African-American community, and grew to include group members Professor Griff (Richard Griffin), DJ Terminator X (Norman Lee Rogers) and Flavor Flav (William Drayton). Their debut album, Yo! Bum Rush The Show, was released in 1987, and was followed by 1988's It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, which peaked in the Top 50 on the Billboard 200 and ranked No. 48 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

In 1990 Public Enemy released Fear Of A Black Planet, which climbed to No. 10 on the Billboard 200 on the strength of the No. 1 Rap Singles "911 Is A Joke" and "Fight The Power," the latter of which garnered the group their first career GRAMMY nomination for Best Rap Performance for 1989. Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black was released in 1991 and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, their highest-charting album to date, and earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group. Public Enemy's most recent GRAMMY nomination came in 1994 for Best Metal Performance for "Bring The Noise," a collaboration with GRAMMY-nominated metal act Anthrax.

Following multiple hiatuses in the mid-'90s, during which Chuck D released his debut solo album, 1996's Autobiography Of Mistachuck, Public Enemy returned with the 1998 soundtrack to the Spike Lee film He Got Game. The soundtrack peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard 200. Their most recent album, The Evil Empire Of Everything, was released in 2012. In 2013 Public Enemy became the fourth hip-hop act to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Launched in 2007 as a means for music fans worldwide to celebrate the unique culture of independently owned record stores, Record Store Day takes place on the third Saturday in April each year. Record stores and artists come together to celebrate the art of music with special vinyl and CD releases and various exclusive promotional products, as well as live performances. Previous Record Store Day Ambassadors include Queens Of The Stone Age's Josh Homme, Eagles Of Death Metal's Jesse Hughes, Iggy Pop, Ozzy Osbourne, and Jack White.


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