Hip-hop artist encourages students to self-educate

Chuck D speaks on the state of rap at Norton Auditorium. “Rap ain’t a music,” he said. “It’s a vocal application on top of music.”

Hip-hop artist Chuck D, of Prophets of Rage and Public Enemy, came to UNA Feb. 15 to give a talk entitled “Rap, Race, and Reality” in Norton Auditorium.

Chuck D started by saying he would not focus on politics, but he did give some advice on the subject.

“It’s almost a waste of time telling you about Trumpageddon,” he said. “What are you going to do in the next four years? This country right now is about locking people in and locking people out.

“But if you’re not attuned to it, you can’t say you want to fight for what’s right and not know what’s going on.”

He also discussed the history of African-American musical art forms and how they expanded within the U.S. with the 20th century’s “Great Migration” from the South to mostly northern areas.

Throughout his talk, he defined many musical terms.

“Rap ain’t a music,” he said. “It’s a vocal application on top of music.”

He said hip-hop is a synonym for creativity and discussed the creation of the genre name rhythm and blues to misplace “race music” in the U.S.

When addressing the outreach music has, he said it can speak to anyone from anywhere.

“Back when Aretha Franklin did ‘Respect’ in this town, she spoke to every woman in the world and still speaks today,” he said. “That’s the power of music, the power of culture.”

When commenting on technology, he encouraged the audience to use the resources around them to self-educate on what is important to them.

“Look at your phone as a tool, not a toy,” he said. “Some say throw the phone away. That’s just stupid. Look at it as something you control, not that controls you. Learn to put it away if you can’t understand that much.”

Another topic Chuck D explored is the connection U.S. citizens have with the rest of the world.

He said he considers himself an “earthizen” instead of a citizen and encourages others to obtain a passport and do the same.

“The new slavery has new chains that will keep you locked down to where you can’t see what the rest of the world is about,” he said.

After his talk, he answered a range of audience questions and met with fans for photos.