It will take more than a nation of millions to hold Public Enemy back. When Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Terminator X and the rest of PE embarked on their rap mission in 1987, they were musical underdogs, with a politically charged message rooted in a genre that many thought just to be a fad.
Now, 25 years later, PE is honored as the fourth hip-hop act to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “I had no expectations whatsoever. I set out at the beginning of my career to be as proficient as an artist, any rock band or any rap group,” Chuck told MTV News on Wednesday, just a day after the inductees were officially announced. “I was trained by the best from Run DMC, to Whodini, to Doug E. Fresh to Anthrax and we knew really at our best, nobody could ever mess with us.”
Next year the HoF will welcome not only PE, but Rush, Heart, Randy Newman, Donna Summer and Albert King into its fold.
While Chuck and his band of militant rap revolutionaries stand proud as hip-hop icons, the “Fight the Power” MC loves and respects all different forms of music. From the group’s classic debut Yo! Bum Rush the Show to their latest The Evil Empire of Everything, PE has stretched the boundaries of hip-hop by infusing rock, soul, funk and reggae into their sound.
Being only the fourth group inducted into the Hall of Fame (after Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys) is no doubt an honor, but Chuck makes a keen observation about which rap acts get inducted. “The first four inductees in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame from rap’s standpoint are groups. I always felt that hip-hop was a collective effort, groups,” he pointed out before remaking on the dilution of the genre by eliminating rap’s musical component. “Once record companies … turned it into an individual thing, just an MC, that’s when it actually got weaker.”