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Chuck D Biography

Chuck D Biography

After graduating from Roosevelt Junior-Senior High School, Chuck went to Adelphi University in Long Island, graduating with a bachelor's of arts degree in Graphic Design. Upon hearing the demo track "Public Enemy Number One", fledgling producer/mogul Rick Rubin insisted on signing Ridenhour to his Def Jam label. However, Ridenhour viewed the music business as a step down from the design job he had at the time. Rubin would continue calling to the point where Chuck D would have his then-girlfriend (and future wife) answer the phone as not to have to deal with him. Eventually, Chuck D relented, insisting to Rubin that he also sign his friend William "Flavor Flav" Drayton, explaining to Rubin, "I don't know what he does, but he adds something." As the lyricist and main vocalist of Public Enemy, he was the focal point of three seminal and controversial rap albums: '"Yo! Bum Rush the Show", It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back and Fear Of A Black Planet. Ridenhour also contributed (as Chuck D) to several episodes of the PBS documentary series The Blues. In 1990, he appeared in Sonic Youth's "Kool Thing", a song for their album, Goo. In 1993, he executively produced Got 'Em Running Scared, an album by Ichiban Records group "Chief Groovy Loo and the Chosen Tribe".

In 1996, he released Autobiography Of Mistachuck on Mercury Records. In November 1998, he settled out of court with Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G" Wallace's estate over the latter's sampling of Chuck D's voice in the song "Ten Crack Commandments". The specific sampling is Chuck D counting off the numbers 1 to 9 on the track "Shut Em Down".

In September 1999, he launched a multi-format "supersite" on the web, Rapstation.com. A home for the vast global hip hop community, the site boasts a TV and radio station with original programming, many of hip hop's most prominent DJs, celebrity interviews, free MP3 downloads (the first was contributed by multi-platinum rapper Coolio), downloadable ringtones by ToneThis, social commentary, current events, and regular features dedicated to empowering rap artists with the knowledge to turn their craft into a viable living. Since 2000, he has been one of the most vocal supporters of Internet music file sharing in the music industry.

Chuck has been increasingly involved politically. He co-hosted Unfiltered on Air America Radio, he has testified before Congress in support of peer-to-peer MP3 sharing, and was involved in a 2004 rap political convention. He continues to be an activist, publisher, lecturer, and producer. Addressing the negative views associated with rap music, he co-wrote the essay book Fight the Power: Rap, Race, and Reality, along with Yusuf Jah (ISBN 0-385-31868-5). In regards to rap music promoting violence and the thug life, he argues that "music and art and culture is escapism, and escapism sometimes is healthy for people to get away from reality" but sometimes the distinction is blurred and that's when "things could lead a young mind in a direction." Chuck D also founded the record company Slam Jamz. He also acted as narrator in the short film "Bling: Consequences and Repercussions", shot by Kareem Adouard, which explains how diamonds in bling fashion can be conflict diamonds, fueling wars and killings in Africa.

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