All people are born with a creative potential and that society must guarantee that every person has the opportunity to develop and express that potential … Art should be related to the interest, needs, and aspirations of the people.
—What We Want, What We Believe
Black Panther Party Platform, October 1966
WELCOME TO THE TERRORDOME 2000-2004
By the end of the year 2000 at least one million ballots of black voters were either wiped off the rolls or determined spoiled, according to the US Civil Rights Commission and the Harvard University Law School Civil Rights Project. And according to Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, over 95,000 of those disenfranchised black voters were from Florida—home of Governor Jeb Bush—George W.’s brother.
Two of Jeb Bush’s proteges were Katherine Harris and Sandra Mortham of DataBase Technologies—the firm that supplied a “blacklist” of ineligible felon voters whom were wiped off the 2000 rolls. Yet over 90% of the 47,000 targeted minority and democratic Florida voters on the so-called “felon list” were never felons to begin with.
For example, Thomas Cooper—whose conviction record states that he was arrested on January 30, 2007—must have been blocked as a “future felon.”
To Florida State Representative Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville), Cooper is just one of thousands who have become a powerless statistic. “What occurred during the 2000 elections, in my district alone there were approximately 27,000 ballots that were spit out by faulty machines,” the representative for Duval County said, speaking on the House Floor on July 15, 2004. “A disproportionately large percentage of these votes came from primarily African American residential areas.
“Even more disturbing to me was that the Supervisor of Elections’ office didn’t release these figures to local officials until after the 72 hour deadline had passed,” Cooper stressed. “As a result, there were no legal avenues to demand a recount.”
As of press time, Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry hasn’t really addressed the theft debacle. He did, however, find the time to attempt to rally Black America at the 2004 NAACP Convention in Philadelphia. “Don’t tell us that in the strongest democracy on earth, a million disenfranchised African Americans and the most tainted election in history is the best we can do,” he asserted. “We can do better … and we will.”
It would seem that Kerry could be a “man for the people”—however, it should also be noted that he said earlier this same year at Howard University, “I personally do not believe that America is going to advance if we go backwards and look to reparations….”
This is in direct contrast to the feelings of many Black leaders, including Dr. Conrad Worrill, Chair of the National Black United Front. “Why should we forget the millions lost in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the many more lost on plantations,” Dr. Worrill stated in the May 10, 2004 edition of Nation of Islam publication The Final Call, “and we’re still being impacted by destabilization tactics by the government, such as the influx of crack cocaine. Internally, healing must take place from self-help initiatives and building and repairing institutions for economic, educational, and social advancement. Externally, a debt is owed for more than two centuries of working for free and another hundred years of racial discrimination under the law, and the impact that has had on Blacks.”
Since the concerns and actual rights and needs of Black Americans and other American minorities seem to have slipped somewhere far under the radar, people interested in healing racial divides (and in social justice in general) should be concerned with finding necessary fresh characteristics to inhabit the Oval Office.
Someone with integrity, a presence that demands respect, somebody rooted in the various cultures and needs of the world with a booming voice, and, oh yeah, someone who is actually representative for once of a different race other than Northern European-based in America.
While film maker Michael Moore may say that person is Oprah Winfrey, I suggest someone of a more challenged background, someone with a strong voice of leadership and reason—someone who has learned about life both underground and is well accepted at large; someone who can spark revolution and hope in the trailer parks and projects, as well as the suburbs and gated communities.
Someone like Chuck D.
“Do you really think it’s gonna happen again?” Carlton Ridenhour, AKA Chuck D of Public Enemy, responds when asked if the 2004 election could be stolen as it apparently was at the turn of the century. “I mean, you have an old system, and it just needs to be revamped anyway. And the whole thing is that you want to be able to give everybody the option to be able to come back up into the 21st century—and we don’t know if that’s fucking possible with this particular election.”
THE WORLD IS YOURS
Formed in Long Island, NY in 1982, Public Enemy first appeared popularly on the scene in 1987 after releasing Yo! Bum Rush The Show and opening for Def Jam label-mates the Beastie Boys. In 1988, PE released the instantly provocative It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, changing the music scene forever.
But it was the summer of 1989 when all eyes were on Public Enemy, which had the song “Fight The Power” appearing at the visceral emotional center of Spike Lee’s extraordinary film Do The Right Thing. Set in midsummer Brooklyn, the film was an engaging, controversial look at race relations.
It was during the video shoot for “Fight The Power” that Chuck D and Lee saw what kind of influence PE had garnered. Within just a couple of hours the video shoot turned into a real life rally with thousands packing the streets chanting in unison: Fight The Power!
Riding the success of “Fight The Power,” Public Enemy released Fear Of A Black Planet, which featured the ferocious and disturbing “Welcome To The Terrordome,” the sublimely hilarious commercial hit “911 Is A Joke,” and showcased both Juice Crew legend Big Daddy Kane, and newly departed NWA member, Ice Cube, on the anthem “Burn Hollywood Burn.”
PE released a slew of other albums with controversial and damning songs over the next few years, including “One Million Bottle Bags,” a song that denounced the malt liquor industry, as well as “By The Time I Get To Arizona,” which decried the governor of Arizona for refusing to observe Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a holiday.
In 1999, after a difference of opinions with Def Jam over creative control, namely distribution and the ability to release songs via the internet, Public Enemy parted ways with its longtime label. This meant new freedom for Public Enemy, but after numerous obstacles and trials the various members looked tired, as if they were coming apart at the seams.
If you’re in a rocky relationship, distance (even if for just a while) can be a saving grace, and Chuck D relocated from Long Island to the laid back confines of Atlanta, while Flavor Flav relocated to Los Angeles (where he recently starred in the third season of VH1’s “The Surreal Life”). After a stormy falling out over his perceived anti-Semitic statements, former “Minister of Information,” Professor Griff, eventually rejoined the ranks of PE, taking leave from his job as a bounty hunter. Terminator X, however, moved to the country to raise ostriches, and has since been replaced by DJ Johnny Juice.
One thing that has not changed for Public Enemy, though, is the necessity to be instrumental as world artists. After performing in Salonica, Greece recently, Chuck D was approached by EMI to have the group collaborate with Moby on a pro-peace song for a 2004 Olympics compilation called Unity.
The song is titled, “MKLFKWR.”
“We thought the theme of the world should be ‘Make Love Fuck War!’” Chuck D insists. “Public Enemy has played fifty-one tours over our eighteen years, and in 2003 it was our theme throughout the whole world, based on what the Bush administration was doing, and our record, Son Of A Bush.
“Most Americans judge us for what we do in America,” Chuck D continues, “but Public Enemy is probably the most renowned rap act around the world. And that precedent was set when I first made It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.”
It’s safe to assume Chuck D is correct in asserting that Public Enemy is a world-focused group with a universal voice. How else could one explain the identical reactions to PE’s music of anger, excitement, hostility, rage, and conviction in both a white kid like me from rural Eastern Washington, along with that of someone raised in the jungles of Papua, New Guinea?
Like many other kids in the late 80s who found themselves engulfed in the energy of Public Enemy, Def Jux emcee Aesop Rock tapped in—channeling a movement that would change his entire life. “I would say that Chuck D single-handedly probably made me wanna rhyme more than anyone,” he says. “Of course there were others … Run DMC, Boogie Down Productions, etc. But I definitely think Chuck had and still has something going on that remains unmatched in hip-hop music.”
Solomon David, AKA Jumbo of Portland, OR’s Lifesavas, fervently agrees. “I’m probably one of the few emcees who will go on record to name Chuck as one of my top five favorite influences. Emcees should really check his cadences and patterns—I call ’em ‘simplex’ (simply complex, unorthodox flow). Public Enemy is one of the most influential groups in music history, [they] changed music forever.”
Rap was suddenly put on the universal map in a very loud, political way—affecting people of many races and walks of life.
“That’s the beautiful aspect of it,” Chuck agrees, “being able to see people share their movements and attitudes or share the fight against the struggle for self-identity.”
Why do you think younger people became attracted to ‘deeper’ rap at that point?
“Probably because there I was—an older cat who was talking the same language of the streets and had something mature to say about our plight.” He adds, “It spread through places, in all parts of the world and parts of this country from a different cut and demographic of people than it was intended.”
Personally, I found a mental and spiritual connection in what was becoming a worldwide culture, and to young Black America which hip-hop was (and still is) a valuable asset. What was appealing about hip-hop to many white kids was that it was so readily identifiable with young Black America—and yet as white imitation grew, the golden era of hip-hop started losing its appeal to young Black men and Black women.
Blackalicious emcee Gift of Gab said in an interview for BANDOPPLER #4 that “the promoters are afraid that the club might get shot up or turned out, so they don’t go to certain areas anymore and promote hip-hop. Hip-hop is now promoted to a more upper middle-class audience.
“The problem of the matter is that they have successfully found, through the means of the media, ways to keep this energy from hitting the originally intended,” Chuck D responds. “Kids in the cities and the urban cities are kept away from this energy—a systematic keep away. The same way the Roots play a show and Talib [Kweli] is out there and Common is there and white kids are there in the audience and black kids only know what’s presented to them on BET and on their local radio stations calling themselves ‘urban!’ Who makes those selections that are telling you that it’s a dog waggin‘ the tail but it’s really the tail waggin‘ the dog?”
The dichotomy of the underground and the mainstream has caused a great disturbance in the force known as hip-hop, despite attempts at bridging the gap by artists such as the Roots, Common, Kanye West, or Dilated Peoples. Still the idea that hip-hop is worldwide and universal still hasn’t gotten through to some in the underground community.
“You know that’s an American thing!” Chuck D states. “What do you say about those groups that are internationally temperate? Like the Lifesavas—you know, they really do their thing and they go to the different parts of the world as well, so would you consider them backpackers because they’re international? I have nothing against it when people say, ‘Well, that’s backpackers!’ [But] what the hell does that mean? That means that they don’t want to hear anything that might be frivolous, from a fourteen-year-old’s standpoint.”
Diverse, a Chicago-based emcee told me outside of a club in Seattle, “I don’t even like to call people ‘conscious’ and shit—it’s offensive a little bit.” Like many other emcees he has made every attempt to avoid being labeled underground or mainstream. “Don’t get me wrong,” Diverse states flatly, “because I think that there’s so many artists like myself that pull from the things that [Public Enemy] did.”
So while artists such as Diverse are not against being conscious, that label may suggest that hip-hop has an ambivalence about personal politics in the greater scheme, or being perceived as too socially broad or class-controversial.
RADIO SUCKERS NEVER PLAY ME
Like many life-long music fans, Chuck D started out in radio, studying broadcasting while attending Adelphi University in Long Island. Not long after he began co-hosting a rap show he joined forces to form Spectrum City, which later would evolve into Public Enemy.
Stones Throw Records owner and deejay Peanut Butter Wolf recalls the year Public Enemy broke into the scene. “I remember videotaping the Beastie Boys at the Grammy Awards in 1986, and they came out with a boom box blasting this song in the background,” the funny and charismatic multi-tasking hip-hop artist and marketer says. “It only played for about ten seconds, but I rewound the tape over and over and was immediately on a quest to find it. Not because of the Beasties, because at that time I was sick of their success with ‘Fight For Your Right.’ I later learned it was PE before they ever had a record out.”
In 1988 when PE’s sophomore album It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back should have been gaining favor with urban radio across the country, like the songs of the group’s rambunctious white counterparts, PE was routinely being passed over by most urban and black stations in exchange for rehashed top 40 love songs. PE cried foul across the nation on the gross imbalance of radio stations (especially urban and black) that refused to play hardcore rap, documented with ferocity on the B-side of the 12” single “Rebel Without A Pause.”
Chuck D’s pent-up anger on “Bring The Noise” was displayed openly when he wrote “Radio stations I question their blackness / they call themselves black / but we’ll see if they play this.” It would seem that radio would be the last place Chuck D would find friendship, but it would eventually come to pass—radio did come to tap into his talents for a talk show.
“I usually do fifty colleges a year—lectures, speaking engagements—and one thing led to another where I was doing a lecture at Temple [University], and doing some radio work with a guy named Harry Lyles. [He] led me to a guy named Dave Logan, who was also talking about the launching of this new liberal radio network,” Chuck D explains. “One thing led to another and he said that I would be a great addition to the voices that they had assembled, like Janeane Garofalo and Al Franken, and they had to have somebody who was representative of color and had the respect and had the voice and was actually coming from a cultural point.
“I couldn’t put a full commitment to it, and that’s when it was ushered to me that I would have two co-hosts—and I thought it was fantastic.”
What seemed at first like a strange pairing is what Chuck now considers a perfect match. “My team on ‘Unfiltered’ is Liz [Winstead] and Racheal [Maddow], and they’re really the ones that stir the drink, and I’m glad to be a third party to that—they’re very smart, there’s a lot of preparation involved in it and it allows me within my time frame and realm to be involved and get some things done and I dig it. Racheal Maddow is just incredible, and I think Liz’s wit is unparalleled.
“The wit of a liberal is very important, because it shows that you’re down to earth.”
SHUT ’EM DOWN
“The network [Air America] is being kept afloat by infusions of cash from Democratic fund- raisers…. Air America has a pathetic list of fifteen affiliates,” stated a condescending Bill O’ Reilly on a June 17th, 2004 airing of his Fox News show, “The O’ Reilly Factor.”
“Fuck ’em,” muttered Chuck D when asked about the “fair and balanced” report. “First of all, I think it’s a miracle that something so revolutionary as Air America even got off the ground, considering the factors stacked up against the programming of its nature. That’s the beauty of business in America—knowing that the journey of getting into orbit is the beautiful aspect. Anybody understands that there’s two ways that business does well. It’s got to go through a rocky road on the strength of gathering its constituency on the way up with believers and advertisers, or whatever, and then go into orbit, which is always going to be turbulent. Or somebody just comes along and drops fifty million dollars into it! Like Clear Channel. It’s one or two ways, really, and often the ‘right here right now hurry up and let me get satisfied immediately’ society is problematic.”
Chuck discounts derision thrown at the very young network by way of counting affiliates, which at press time numbered twenty-one stations in markets like New York, Portland, Miami, Sacramento, Honolulu, Anchorage, etc. (Original affiliates in Chicago and Los Angeles dropped off soon after Air America’s launch due apparently to bad contracts, but the network has promised to return soon to those markets.) He points to Air America’s strong presence on satellite radio carriers Sirius (channel 144) and XM (channel 167), and to the fact that Air America is the number one provider of streaming internet content via Real Networks and its Real Player 10 software.
“You’ve got billions of people listening to you no matter where they’re at, from streaming and satellite radio,” Chuck says. “To me that’s more innovative and that’s more of a pull than knowing that you’re in a few markets on an AM station. The traditional versus the cutting edge technology of Air America is really setting precedents on people in a new way of listening to radio.”
His point is reinforced not just by statistics and ratings (which have been impressive and a source of chagrin for O’ Reilly and his ilk), as even a casual listen to call-in shows on Air America will witness the significant national influence of the network’s internet and satellite radio presence. Tuning in by any means, one will quickly hear from callers all over America (and even around the world), many from cities and states, like Texas and Washington, where there is not even one traditional radio affiliate yet in place.
This response is reminiscent of Public Enemy’s previous foresight into new technology—including file sharing and streaming technology—and was just part of the problem with Def Jam Records label heads Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen (shortly after the band posted songs from an upcoming record on their website).
Between appearing on episodes of “Unfiltered” for Air America, and doing the college lecture circuit, Chuck has spent much of his time recording several Public Enemy albums in PE’s various studios around the United States—which are all linked digitally to one another—as well as re-launching his own record label, Slam Jamz.
“Slam Jamz is a thing I like to speak about the most,” Chuck D said with excitement, “because it’s my own eclectic hot pit of artists that I really dedicate more and more time to.”
His roster includes Professor Griff’s new band 7th Octave (which Chuck D calls “ghetto metal”), The Impossebulls, Crew Grrl Order, Dirty South, Most Hi-Fi, and soul singer, the aforementioned co-host of “Bring The Noise,” Kyle Jason.
“I’m really spending much time to establish Slam Jamz as a label that hopefully can be along the lines of Def Jux and Stones Throw,” Chuck says. “If I can get Slam Jamz to half as what Stones Throw is, and also do our innovation in the areas of DVD with everything I release, I’ll be very happy.”
Meanwhile, Universal will release Power To The People And The Beat, which is Public Enemy’s Greatest Hits Essential collection, and the video component that’s coming out will be called Power To The People And The Videos, a DVD that is part of the PE archive series.
THE COUNTER-ATTACK ON COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE
It was reported in the Village Voice that the New York Police Department had launched a hip- hop crime unit for the purpose of collecting information on the culture and supposed “crime figures.” While it’s undeniable that a fraction of the people working within the hip-hop world have committed crimes (Steady B. and 50 Cent to name a couple), people are understandably wondering why the authorities are specifically targeting hip-hop. Though these intentions may be inspired by the murders of Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, and Jam Master Jay, it actually seems to bring up a question of potential attention-overkill….
“Well I just think that aspect is just stupid,” Chuck D characteristically asserts. “Hip-hop doesn’t have enough power to deserve a counter-intelligence program, especially if it’s within the mainstream genre itself.
“I think hip-hop has counter-intelligenced itself to a certain degree—the cops following hip-hop is a waste of time,” he insists. “Now, the peripherals around hip-hop, the crime element that has gravitated to the moneymaking aspect of hip-hop, could be a case in point in that. But organized crime will gravitate to whatever is making money and see if they can come in and try to chop it up. So, who knows, it might be warranted, you know? But I don’t think it ain’t got nothing to do with hip-hop—the artists doing the songs. I think it might have something to do with the climate and the atmosphere surrounding it—coming in like a buzzard to swoop down on it because it happens to make money. There’s certain aspects of the drug game that have dried up or may be not be as clear cut as recording music and contracts and that type of thing.”
So should we not worry about these subversive Patriot Act enforcing cops coming inside of the community as they did with the Panther movement?
“We can’t look at old techniques and old methods and think that they’re going to come at us the same way—Nah! Who knows? But don’t be surprised. Be on point, because they can come in a whole different way of infiltration, and just try to think how they comin‘ and be loud about it and expose them.”
FEAR OF A BLACK(ER) PLANET
You wake up one morning in the not so distant future, the birds are chirping, the smog level is low enough to safely go outside without a respirator, and the Fox Network is scrambling for hope now that “The Simpsons” contract has switched to Comedy Central—Rupert Murdoch slowly running of out of pop-culture teats to pimp out to eager mouths.
It’s a great morning in the United States! you’re thinking to yourself as you go on your morning walk to pick up a paper at one of the twelve small espresso cafes that replaced the abandoned Starbucks on your block.
And the headlines read, Chuck D Declared President!
After a double take or two, you realize that this is not a joke. Reports start to come in from the AP that President “D” has ordered George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s personal accounts emptied in order to re-build Iraq’s clean water supply, as well as paying reparations back to Black America—while they await prosecution for crimes on humanity in a Cuban run incarceration center.
Damn, it’s a better morning than you could have imagined!
Too bad in actuality Chuck D is probably somewhere reading the sports page on a plane flying from Los Angeles to his home in Atlanta while George W. Bush is planning a way to plant some Weapons of Mass Destruction or the “unveiling” of the sudden “capture” of Osama bin Laden (coughed up by his family for Bush’s sake) around election time.
But wouldn’t you like to see someone like Chuck D sitting in the White House—an intuitive businessman, a prolific and profound writer, an accidental prophet?
The better question is, Would the front man for Public Enemy ever consider such a job?
“No offense, that’s not a cool thing,” he shoots back. “It’s one of the reasons Schwarzenegger is the governor of California, because people say, ‘Well, this is a guy I think I know.’ And you can’t think that you know somebody—you have to really know somebody and they have to be really clear cut on knowing if they really care about the issues and the concerns of people. I wouldn’t say that I’m not, but I wouldn’t want people to be naive and think that automatically that I should be, you know?
“I think the thing that turns me on the most is to be able to travel to many countries,” Chuck adds. “I would love to be a cultural ambassador. Because culture has moved so many people I think that it could be very realistic to think that would be something I would like to do.”
Turning our conversation to American presidential elections in reality, I ask Chuck if he thinks America will ever see the day that a black man or a woman of any color would be president.
“In color, but maybe not in soul,” he answers. “I mean, Colin Powell is a black guy, but you’ve got to understand that when a person actually takes over a job like that, their first obligation is to the mass constituency of its public, and they’ve got to answer pretty much the questions of the total public. And a lot of the times we might not even have the numbers to get that demand when we need that demand, and so that’s always the reality of this being the United States and being a minority. Our issues are not addressed like the way we want it, but then we also have to be realistic to say, ‘Well, we have to think outside of this box of the United States in order to get some of our other demands felt and dealt with in the rightful manner.’
“I don’t think Black folks can just go to the United States and just expect that we can get all of our answers delivered here—when the whole entire Western World might have had a finger in our demise!”
THE BUM RUSH
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 2ND, 2004
During the 1980 Jimmy Carter re-election bid, a wave of support lingered towards his Republican opponent Ronald Reagan due to Carter’s failure to end the long standing 444-day Hostage Crisis in Iran. This allegedly cost Carter the presidency. Interestingly enough, within the same twenty-four hour period that Reagan was inaugurated Iran released all of the fifty-two remaining hostages.
The New York Times ran a cover story in its March 5, 1987 issue that read, “Reagan Concedes ‘Mistake’ In Arms-For-Hostage Policy; Takes Blame, Vows Changes.” In an April 18, 1991 issue of the LA Times, a former White House policy analyst and former 1980 Bush election campaign staffer Barbara Honegger confessed, “Ronald Reagan cut a deal with Iran before the 1980 election to send arms in exchange for Iran’s agreeing to delay the release of our fifty-two hostages.” George Bush (Sr.) and William Casey had brokered the deal with the Iranians in Paris months before the election in order to kill Carter’s popularity and give credibility to Reagan after he entered office.
A similar tactic under another Bush would not be a surprise to Chuck D, as he is quite aware of the brazen antics of the “R&B era”—as stated in a recent Public Enemy song, “Son Of A Bush”:
Struck by greased lightning / f’d by the same last name, you know what? / China ain’t never givin‘ back that gottdamn plane / must got this ol‘ nation trained on some kennel ration / refrain the same train fulla‘ cocaine / froze the brain have you forgotten / I been thru the first term of rotten / the father, the son, and the holy Bush. I ain’t callin‘ for no assassination / I’m just sayin‘ / sayin‘ WHO VOTED for this asshole of the nation?
According to General Tommy Franks in a November, 2003 article in Cigar Aficionado, “[A] terrorist, massive casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western World—it may be in the United States of America—[would cause] our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid another repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event.”
So, going back to the question—What if that Son of a Bush gets away with that shit again?—without hesitation Chuck offers a prophetic possible outcome of November 2, 2004.
“I think you’ll see a clear divide in America that you’ve never really seen before,” he says. “What will happen is that the divide will create a Great Depression, not just financially, but depressed spirits and depressed souls—resulting in a detachment from the rest of the planet. The planet actually will try to unite against the philosophical point of view that America will drape across the rest of the planet. Those who will be victimized by the (new) Great Depression in the United States first will be those that don’t fit the visual characteristic—which is probably going to be us Black folks and Hispanics and people of color.”
Chuck concludes, “At the same time, we’ve come into such a service schism that many of those that don’t have the skill of being able to have a six to eight year degree—highly skilled and proficient in the corporation, and if those on the other hand can’t do menial tasks like fix roofs and landscaping (you know, that whole Home Depot real shit!)—then those in the middle without the skills and options will be severely out of work, out of money, and out of resource.
“We are twenty years past 1984—and Orwell could have been talking about 2004, right?”
DO THE MATH—THURSDAY JANUARY 20TH, 2005
“You would like whatever administration to find out that December 2004 is very important,” Chuck D exclaims. “But when Kerry and Edwards get up in there, understand this: The American public has to be realistic. The first two and a half years is clean up, and at the end of the third year they ‘get’ what they’re doing, and the fourth year they gotta defend themselves against the attack—from the incoming opposition, you know? I think you have to have a realistic viewpoint from both sides, and if Kerry can actually launch into healthcare and educational opportunities and be able to have a creative market fit into the rest of the world, as opposed to arrogantly Bushin‘ or bogarting everybody else—I think that would be a step forward.”
What about the elusive “third option?”
“Mathematically, we don’t have the numbers. We want to vote for Nader, [but if he does not win the election] then you’re in the situation with the greater of two evils, and you’re fucked.
“If you’re a black man in America and you’re looking at two white men, you’re not really interested in who’s running for office—you take the lesser of two evils and see if one is open to some kind of change versus the other. I look at this as an individual, though. Kerry has said no to reparations, just as Bush—he doesn’t even consider it! Ralph Nader might come along and say, ‘Well, Black folks need to have the issue of reparations addressed’—so, why wouldn’t that take the black vote?” Chuck D chuckles.
“You know? We have to think that if this is a purely mathematical sequence or equation then [to vote for a third party candidate] we have to be able to take the greater of two evils [as a result], because Bush has proven to be bad for the world.”
Chuck D then compared the troubling mathematical sequence to growing up as a young man.
“It’s a rough choice right? You know, I never liked liver or beets when I was growing up—and my moms was like, ‘Eat this liver or take the beets!’ And I was like, ‘Fuck! I’m screwed either way!’
“But, see, that’s if you give a damn about the world … if you don’t, then what the hell!”