Rapper Chuck D takes aim at Arizona in new track

Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:31pm EDT
 
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By John Benson

CLEVELAND (Billboard) - Public Enemy's Chuck D has Arizona in his crosshairs - again.

Nearly 20 years after the socially conscious hip-hop group's very public feud with Arizona over the state's lack of recognition for Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday -- as documented in the single "By the Time I Get to Arizona" -- frontman Chuck D has released a new track about the state, "Tear Down That Wall."

"Yeah, because the governor is a Hitler," Chuck D told Billboard.com. "Things do change from time to time, but it goes right back into just proving that it wants to be something else. 'Tear Down That Wall' is something that has its own life. It's not that you're doing anything to be opportunistic. I talked about the wall not only just dividing the U.S. and Mexico but the states of California, New Mexico and Texas. But Arizona, it's like, come on. Now they're going to enforce a law that talks about basically racial profiling."

"Tear Down That Wall," which is available at www.slamjamz.com, will appear on his solo CD, to be released at a later date.

As for Public Enemy, this summer the group will release the CD/DVD box set "Bring The Noise: Hits, Vids and Docs 3," which documents the Big Apple rap outfit's past dozen post-Def Jam years, but fans are eagerly awaiting its next studio project, due out in 2011.

"We have investors for the record all over the world, and one thing that separates us from doing our own record in our own studios is (that) each song will be a collaboration," Chuck D said. "So the people who call themselves fans and want something different from the group will be getting collaborations."

The project is already getting attention for its guest performances (Tom Morello, Rise Against and Z-Trip), as well as how it's being funded. Using SellaBand.com, Public Enemy is employing a fan-funding method for the recording process, with a target of $75,000. So far the group raised over three-quarters of its goal. So what happens if you invest?

"It gets you the album, some swag and a percent of that 33 percent of the retail part of the album," Chuck D said. "We have limits. There's not going to be anymore than $75,000. So that'll be for the making and promotion of the record."

Furthermore, Chuck D has high hopes that his own label, SlamJamz, will break barriers within the music industry.

"Mainstream media just seems to only want to talk about mainstream record companies when it comes to hip-hop," Chuck D said. "That's just crazy. It's like Universal, Warner Bros., Sony. That's what radio will play. Radio doesn't really dig into what is independently released, and that's absolutely nuts. At least in the rock world they understand some greatness may come from independence. I'd like to get to that with rap and hip-hop. So that remains a problem with me."