Richard Griffin (born August 1, 1960), better known by his Stage name Professor Griff, is an American rapper, spoken word artist and Lecturer. He was a member of the hip hop group Public Enemy and head of the Security of the First World.
Early years in Public Enemy:
After returning from the army, he started a security service to work the local party circuit, calling it Unity Force. At the time, Carlton Ridenhour (a.k.a. Chuck D) was part of the Spectrum City DJ-for-hire service led by Hank Shocklee, and Spectrum and Unity Force frequently worked side-by-side at local events. When Public Enemy was formed and signed to Def Jam, Ridenhour invited Griffin to be a sideman. Unity Force was renamed "The Security of the First World", or S1W for short. The S1W's were brought along, and became a curious combination of bodyguards/dancers for the band. Their stage routines were a loose combination of martial arts, military drill and "step show" dances lifted from black college fraternities.
His role was also that of road manager and Minister of Information, the intellectual public face of the band for interviews et cetera, as Flavor Flav was the "fun" one. He was rarely MC'ing, except between songs. Professor Griff started to emerge on the conspiracy theory scene, typically New World Order conspiracy theory. He is known for linking these allegations to past and present celebrities.
Controversy and departure from Public Enemy:
Before the release of It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Professor Griff, in his role as Minister of Information, gave interviews to UK magazines on behalf of Public Enemy, during which he made homophobic and anti-Semitic remarks. However, there was little controversy until May 22, 1989, when Griffin was interviewed by the Washington Times. At the time, Public Enemy enjoyed unprecedented mainstream attention with the single "Fight the Power" from the soundtrack of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing.
During the interview with David Mills, Griffin made numerous statements such as "Jews are responsible for the majority of the wickedness in the world". When the interview was published, a media firestorm emerged, and the band found itself under intense scrutiny.
In a series of press conferences, Griffin was either fired, quit, or never left. Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin had already left the label by then; taking his place alongside Russell Simmons was Lyor Cohen, the son of Israeli immigrants who had run Rush Artists Management since 1985. Before the dust settled, Cohen claims to have arranged for a Holocaust Museum to give the band a private tour.
In an attempt to defuse the situation, Ridenhour first expressed an apology on his behalf, and fired Griffin soon thereafter. Griffin later rejoined the group, provoking more protests, causing Ridenhour to briefly disband the group. When Public Enemy reformed, due to increasing attention from the press and pressure from Def Jam hierarchy, Griffin was no longer with the band.
Griffin later publicly expressed remorse for his statements after a meeting with the National Holocaust Awareness Student Organization in 1990.
In his 2009 book, titled Analytixz, Griff once again admitted the faults in his alleged 1989 statement: "To say the Jews are responsible for the majority of wickedness that went on around the globe, I would have to know about the majority of wickedness that went on around the globe, which is impossible...I'm not the best knower--God is. Then, not only knowing that, I would have to know who is at the crux of all of the problems in the world and then blame Jewish people, which is not correct." Griff also said that not only were his words taken out of context, but that the recording was never released to the public for an unbiased listen.
Griffin embraces a radical form of Afrocentrism. "Muslim, Christian, Jew, Here's a little somethin' I thought you knew/There is only one God and God is one, the rich praises none."
After his departure from Public Enemy, Griffin formed his own group, the Last Asiatic Disciples. Griffin's albums were of an Islamic and Afrocentric style, combined with increasingly spoken word lyrics.
He is a member of the Nation of Islam, which his lyrics and record titles as a solo artist referenced. Another general theme in his lyrics is New World Order conspiracy.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license