Even though Public Enemy have no plans to enter the studio anytime soon, you'll likely hear plenty from leader Chuck D in 2003. In addition to starting his own publishing imprint, D has plans to reissue a controversial PE album and launch what he refers to as the world's first virtual rap crew.
First up from the multitasking rap godfather is his book imprint, called Offda Books and Under the Radar Publishing. "After [Run-DMC's Jam Master] Jay passed, I felt like it was really important for me to jump in the middle of the hip-hop scene and organize it," D said. "And there just aren't enough books out there about hip-hop."
To rectify the situation, D said he's in discussions to release the first Offda Books offering this spring, a book by legendary New York MC Kool Moe Dee in which the rapper picks the 50 greatest MCs of all time. Following that, D is prepping "Lyrics of a Rap Revolutionary, Volume 1," a collection of his lyrics and the stories behind them.
The spring will also see a reissue of PE's 1999 album, There's a Poison Going On, with new remixes, live cuts and extensive liner notes. "That album was basically banned when it first came out because major retailers were mad that we offered it strictly online," D said.
With his Slam Jamz imprint now being distributed by Koch, D said he has a host of developing artists in the pipeline, several of them female, to plug what he sees as a serious gender gap in the rap game.
"You have Missy and Eve and Foxy and Lil' Kim, but there still are much fewer female rap artists than male, and that should change," D said. First up will be the Paper Grrls, an act D described as a "female Jurassic Five." The five-woman rap crew's debut, Crew Grrl Order, should drop by summer.
D said he'll use a three-tiered "online, midline and offline" plan — in which some artists will debut on the Slam Jamz Web site only, some in stores and online, and some with a heavy record store push — for debuts from his new artists. He described the Soul Project as a "Kansas City Wu-Tang Clan," while he referred to Dayton, Ohio, rapper Bonne Cream as "a country/western female Nelly."
He also plans to release music by soul singer Kyle Jason, a Hispanic crew from the Southwest called EXL, Harlem crew General Population, blues rapper Payn ("a rap Etta James"), Atlanta's ATLiens ("a retro, EPMD-style crew") and, in 2004, the twin terrors Sista Act.
Perhaps the most intriguing group on D's roster, however, is the Imposse Bulls, which he referred to as the "world's first virtual rap squad." "This is a squad that's all over the country and the world," D said of the crew, who came together via the Public Enemy message boards.
Producer C Doc has been e-mailing tracks out to the members, who add their vocals and send the tracks back for Doc to pull together and arrange into finished songs. The group served as the opening act on PE's recent tour, and D said they've already created a strong online following.
Though PE won't record a follow-up to last year's Revolverlution anytime soon, D said there might be a solo album from his troubled foil, Flavor Flav, sometime this summer.
"It's gonna be a Slam Jamz year, for sure," D said.