Public Enemy's Chuck D: Rap Belongs in the Rock Hall

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Public Enemy performs at the 2012 Treasure Island Festival in San Francisco, October 2012.See more: The Best of 2012: The Year in Music

"I've thought since day one that we should be recognized as much as anybody in rock," he tells Billboard

As far as Chuck D is concerned, Public Enemy's upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame resonates deeper than just with his group.


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"It's not an achievement for Public Enemy per se as much as I think it's an achievement for hip-hop and rap music to be legitimized," the veteran MC explains to Billboard. "Us going in is a win for our peers like Kurtis Blow or KRS-One, Queen Latifah. (Already inducted) Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 5, they're our peers, and I feel thankful we're joining that list, but also we look to shine the light on so many others and tell them that this is their induction, too."

D adds that he feels Public Enemy and all of rap's other inductees and previous nominees definitely have a place in the Rock Hall. "I've thought since day one that we should be recognized as much as anybody in rock," he notes. "That's always been my fight, to make this genre as official and legitimate as other artists." And, he says, he has great respect not only for Public Enemy's fellow inductees but also for the other finalists on this year's ballot.

"As DJs, we played all that music, and we play it today," he explains. "We consider ourselves students of music, musicologists, so somebody like Deep Purple and Chic, they mean the world to us. We're not gonna say the people that didn't get in are less worthy. We just love music."

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Expect some pointed comments from D on April 18 in Los Angeles -- "I've been writing that speech for 25 years, man," he says with a laugh -- but don't look for him to go the black tie route. "I look good in a tuxedo. I ain't gonna be wearing one, though," he promises.

Public Enemy is currently on its Hip Hop Gods Classic Tourfest Revue with Schooly D, Monie Love, Leaders of the New School, X-Clan and others, which wraps on Dec. 13 in Los Angeles. D says another version of the tour may hit the road in 2013, though he doubts Public Enemy will release an album next year after putting out two -- "Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No stamp" and "The Evil Empire of Everything" -- just three months apart in 2012. Mostly he says the group is interested in continuing to build its Spit Digital aggregation imprint to help other Urban artists develop their own labels and distribution companies.

"That's probably the biggest accomplishment I've been involved in the last 10 years," D says. "We want to organize hip-hop into tier levels that make it look like something you would look at in rock. That's the way it's got to go; It can't just be sloppy and all over the place."


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