Artists educate about hip-hop music

Kyle Roerink

Chuck D, others encourage local artists to promote positive messages

Hip-hop artist Chuck D spoke last night, along with freshman education major Michael Stover (left), MC Yo Yo (right) and DJ Rick Ruckkus, about the future of hip-hop. Jessica M. Kanalas | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Public Enemy frontman Chuck D gave students a lesson on the origins, struggles and future of hip-hop last night at Cartwright Hall in front of more than 100 students.

Sitting alongside legendary female artist Yo Yo, Cleveland’s DJ Rick Ruckkus and Kent State’s own Michael Stover, freshman education major and hip-hop artist, Chuck D explained how the industry emerged on the music scene in the 1970s and 80s.

There was a long time where the genres of hip-hop and rap went undefined. Chuck D said rap is not music; it is a vocal that has been placed on top of music. But he said hip-hop is a term for the creativity that happened to the black community in the mid-1970s, and when it first came out, people thought it was valuable. At that time, Chuck D said, hip-hop was uncapped and not looked upon to generate revenue.

During that point in hip-hop’s life, people had to struggle to compete against what black music was all about in the eyes of audiences.

Deep in African American music’s roots is a code system, he said, used to fight against oppression and combat the slave-master mentality. And in the later half of the 20th century, rap followed.

“The struggle in the 1980s was trying to struggle with being accepted in the community,” he said. “It even spoke for the people and the community, but it was hated by radio and hated by the DJs. It was a key time where I thought the community should have grabbed hold onto rap instead of the political corporations.”

The turning point in hip-hop was when corporations decided it would be profitable to capitalize on violence, he said.

In today’s market, though, the record industry is not healthy, but the music industry is. He said it is a great time for local artists to band together and do whatever they can by whatever means necessary to get their music heard on the radio.

Chuck thinks there is a tremendous problem with the infrastructure of rap music and hip-hop because regions don’t have a chance to swell in terms of local music.

“For example, if you don’t hear the rappers who are trying to say and do the right thing from north Ohio at least 25 percent of the time, how are they going to grow?” he asked.

Yo Yo said artists who want to be heard on the radio need to go to the station and protest because sending them letters and e-mails will not do anything.

The negative context sometimes associated with the hip-hop industry is not because of hip-hop itself; it arrives because of certain stereotypes and labels associated with the artists, he said.

Some students asked Chuck D if rap and hip-hop perpetuate violence.

“Hip hop is like a faucet – it ain’t the water,” he said. “So inside the water can be clean or dirty water … Toxic water kills a third of the world – does that mean water kills people?”

Contact minority affairs reporter Kyle Roerink at [email protected].