2.16.2007

the ragin' asian goes to see Chuck D


my cell phone camera sucks.

on thursday, i was able to go see the incredible, rhyme animal, the unpinnable...D! that is, chuck d, leader of the seminal political rap group public enemy. and seriously, if you didn't already know that, you should be ashamed of yourself. anyways, the good folks at the ucsb multicultural center brought him in to talk about a bunch of random things. he has a new book out i guess, but pleasantly enough, promotion of the book at the event was minimal. in fact, chuck d didn't even mention the book until the very end of the night.

anyways, i was there for the same reasons that anyone who is interested in popular culture and anyone who came of age in the mid eighties. but more than anything, i wanted to have one question answered. this question revolves around everyone's favorite clock wearing, viking helmeted hype man, flavor flav. you see everytime i saw flavor of love on VH1, i felt sad. i mean here was the man who taught me that 911 is a joke, and here he is, reduced to reality's own minstrel show. and i always, wondered, "man, i wonder what chuck d thinks of all of this?" well, he addressed the issue and i have to tell you the answer was somewhat surprising. i was expecting chuck to be disappointed and all of that stuff, but it turns out, my own disappointment with flav's behavior was somewhat misguided.

chuck's opinion basically boiled down to one of public enemy's greatest songs: don't believe the hype. according to chuck, what we saw was flav being flav, and the entity that we should direct our ire against is not flav, but VH1. and now that i think about this, it makes total sense. we all know that despite the moniker, reality tv is all but reality. it is heavily edited and while flav may seems wheels off, it is the way that the show is edited that makes it seem like flav perpetuates every bad stereotype of black people. in fact, chuck said that all of this was flav's own private joke on the television industry. for example, did you know that flavor flav has a girlfriend? her name is liz, and she apparently isn't happy about some of the stuff that went on during the show, but liz and chuck are still an item. in fact, chuck said that flav is mocking all of those stereotypes by even exaggerating his behavior. i'm a little bit skeptical of the whole meta-satire angle, but since chuck d probably knows flavor flav than i do, i've come to the conclusion that i have no reason not to believe him.

anyways, i'm satisfied with this answer and i can now restore flavor flav to hip-hop visionary and revolutionary.

one more flavor related item that was discussed was his appearance on strange love, the brigitte nielsen/flavor flav show. the show made it seem that chuck was put off by brigitte, particularly at a PE concert. chuck said that he had no problem with brigitte being on stage, and the only people he was pissed off at was the tv crew who didn't adhere to the guidelines that he and flav set down before the show started. the way he talked about brigitte seemed very genuine. i believe his exact words were "he crazy, she crazy, so they're perfect for each other".

anyways, other than that, it was what you would expect from a talk by chuck d. he talked about politics, the music industry, and racism. one more interesting anecdote that he related was that he grew up in the same neighborhood as eddie and charlie murphy. he was discussing charlie's new found success, and he said that charlie was always the funniest guy in the room, but "the only thing was, he'll rob you too." good stuff.

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