Lippy Kid is the electronica project of Derbyshire based musician Paul Scott. He is currently working on the follow up to his 2018 album Thought Forms, and is regular host of the Electronica Show on Radio Free Matlock.
Here, Paul recounts the time he first heard Chuck D and the influence that he has had on him.
I still remember the moment, if not the exact date and time, when I first discovered Carlton Douglas Ridenhour aka Chuck D.
The year was 1988 and my younger brother had walked in the house clutching a video tape of the Def Jam Tour in a pretty excited manner and simply said “Paul…you HAVE to watch this…!”.
Now I have to confess. At that point in my life, my interest in Electronic music had made me aware of Hip-Hop, but I hadn’t dedicated any real time into understanding or developing any passionate appreciation of it.
So we sat back, inserted the video, and hit Play.
I was transfixed. The air raid sirens…The logo…The DJ, Terminator X, flanked by these uzi-toting guys wearing para-military clothing described as the S1Ws…Security Of The First World. The “Minister of Information” Professor Griff, stalking in and out of the shadows. Flava Flav the presenter of disorder…and then Chuck D. That voice, the power in the delivery. Part evangelical preacher, part presidential. He sounded like the leader of Planet Earth addressing the nation.
It probably helps if I give some background here. My brother and I are of mixed race. English Mother, Jamaican Father. We’d grown up accustomed to racism, but thanks to our parents, had developed some of the emotional tools to help deal with it. I was also aware of musicians I’d admired trying to address the issue. But this felt different. I’d never witnessed such an assertive performance by black artists on a stage before. Confident and intelligent. Heavy political commentary and fiercely critical of their home nation. It was clear that these guys would upset the establishment.
But despite the highly charged aesthetic, Chuck D’s message was simple and plain. Be proud of who you are. We are one people, one planet, all equal.
As they launched into ‘Rebel Without A Pause’ (still one of my Top 10 records ever) I was profoundly aware I was watching one of the greatest musical artists of my generation. This was life-affirming music.
“P.E. a group, a crew, not singular”
I walked out of the house feeling a few feet taller that day. I knew this would change everything. The way I related to music. The way I would view the world.
My first port of call was immediately buying both “Yo Bum Rush The Show” together with their recently released album “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back…”an album I still consider to be one of the finest ever made full. From the opening sirens of “Countdown To Armageddon” to the closing Boston broadcast by Malcolm X on “Party For Your Right To Fight”. The whole thing is intelligence on fire, and all backed with that Bomb Squad production taking everything to another level.
It would be a couple of years later before I caught Chuck D and Public Enemy Live at Manchester Apollo during the Fear Of A Back Planet tour. There had been a well documented period of controversy surrounding the band in the lead up, which Chuck D himself needed to circumvent. But years later, it remains one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen. The atmosphere was electric. The crew tight and powerful. And Chuck D as imperious as he’s ever been. A voice that could detonate mountains with a social commentary to match.
I can’t claim that I’ve religiously followed every move that Public Enemy have made since those early days. But I always maintain a close eye on Chuck D and what he’s up to. He remains a powerhouse of the Hip-hop scene and as a musician myself I continue to find him an inspiration. His aim to ‘keep it real’ and to be honest with yourself. His championing of independent music creation and positively focussing your efforts at helping build independent platforms for other artists (best exemplified with the website RapStation.com that he launched).
But most of all, it’s his ever present message of one people, one planet, all equal, that resonates. This is what helps define me and the way I engage with others. It was a message laid down by my mother and father, and rammed home the day I saw Chuck D on that video tape back in 1988.
Thanks for everything Chuck x
Many thanks to Lippy Kid for writing about his love of Chuck D for us. He is surely a living legend who continues to fight the power on all fronts.
You can keep up with Chuck D on Twitter.
To hear more from Lippy Kid, you can listen below.
Lippy Kid is involved in Daniel Crompton’s charity project to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society. You can read more about the project here.