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Hip-Hop News: Chuck D Turns Attention To Radio & TV
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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
7/2/2004 7:53:38 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include Chuck D.

Chuck D, the rapper who made waves in music, now turns his attention to radio and TV.

He is everywhere - and nowhere.

For the average media watcher who punches in mainstream radio, flips through network TV and thumbs through Entertainment Weekly, the name may be dimly remembered from hip-hop's paleolithic past. They might have better luck spelling Evanescence than reeling off any of Chuck D's hits.

But for those who tap a little deeper into pop culture, Chuck D -- the leader of the breakthrough New York hip-hop group Public Enemy -- is close to inescapable these days:

• He's heard daily as a co-host of Unfiltered on Air America, the new liberal talk-radio network that much of the country -- including Fort Worth-Dallas -- can hear only through satellite radio or online.

• He has been involved in efforts such as the Hip-Hop Symposium and the recently concluded National Hip-Hop Political Convention in Newark, N.J.

• Public Enemy, though eclipsed in the hip-hop headlines by younger performers in the '90s, are still a working proposition. Much of the group's recent material is available only through their Web site (, but a new 12-inch-single collaboration with electronica heavyweight Moby, is due out July 26. The band headline the Texas Zen Festival 2004, an all-day hip-hop and techno extravaganza at American Airlines Center in Dallas on July 10.

• Trio, the pop-culture cable channel that's available in 20 million homes through digital cable and satellite, is turning over several hours of its schedule tonight through July 10 to Chuck D for its latest My Trio promotion, in which a guest celebrity programs favorite shows. If previous My Trio guest Quentin Tarantino went crazy on the kung fu, Chuck D's tastes lean more toward social commentary, such as the documentary The N Word, airing at 8 p.m. Sunday.

For Chuck D -- born Carlton Douglas Ridenhour -- it's all part of being a hip-hop ambassador, interpreting the music and the culture for a broader audience. He was especially intrigued by the Trio opportunity.

"I don't watch a lot of movies and TV . . . But when I was looking at Trio, I was thinking 'Wow! I could show some of my favorite movies,' " Chuck D, 42, says in a phone interview, noting the opportunity to show nonfiction works about black popular culture. "I collect documentaries. I'm more of a documentary [fan] than a movie buff."

In addition to The N Word, in which the likes of Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg and Samuel L. Jackson talk about one of the most inflammatory words in the English language, Chuck D will also show Biggie & Tupac, Nick Broomfield's controversial look at the late rappers the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.

For Trio President Lauren Zalaznick, Chuck D's particular point of view is what she wanted.

"We had done two previous My Trios, with [writer] Joel Stein and Quentin Tarantino. . . . So we had talked about [the next one being] music, being as it's such a part of Trio and the culture.

"The other piece of it was we had this phenomenal documentary called The N Word, and Chuck D is a prominent part of The N Word as an interview subject. So we drew up a pretty short list and Chuck D was at the top."

While programming TV is just a minor diversion for Chuck D, music and radio provide his full-time occupations. With a no-nonsense, never-smile attitude and such often-incendiary tracks as Fight the Power and Don't Believe the Hype, Public Enemy were one of the most talked-about hip-hop acts of the '80s and early '90s.

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