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Interview:
Rap icons Public Enemy feels kinship with electronic music community
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

Having rap titans Public Enemy on this weekend's Movement Electronic Festival bill might seem quizzical. But co-founder and frontman Chuck D guarantees that it's a good fit.

"We come from DJ culture, so it's an obvious thing," explains D, 51 (ne Ridenhour), who formed Public Enemy while attending Adelphi University on Long Island. "I think people try to slice the genres up, but DJ culture is really what spawned the beginnings of hip-hop and a lot of electronica.

"We've always been a combination of music, musicians, electronics and technology. We've been a cross-section of that for 25 years. We use drum machines and drummers, so any way anybody wants to deal with music, including the electronic scene, we can bring it."

And, D is quick to note, Public Enemy also prides itself on bringing it "better than anybody" in a live setting.

"I'm not bragging on myself," he says, "but you can put a song out on the Internet or YouTube, and that's not enough. Can you prove it? Can you get down? Can you rock a house with that song you recorded? It's down to the live element. You can't just press the drum machine button and let it roll. That's just not going to work."

Public Enemy's Movement appearance comes as the group celebrates the 25th anniversary of its first album, "Yo! Bum Rush the Show." The group has been dipping deeper into the album during its shows to mark the occasion, but it also has a pair of new albums -- one due out this summer, the other in the fall according to D -- and has never lost its desire for continuing global domination.

"The thing that's always been the saving grace with Public Enemy is we've always traveled to different parts of the world," he says. "If it was just a one-country thing, we'd be like, 'OK, where is our future?' But because we spread ourselves all over the world, over 80 countries in 25 years, it's seemed like one enjoyable adventure.

"And we've never been subject to any one country's standard or hot topics or trends. That's helped us, too. It's one of the rare instances where we've marched to the beat of our own electronic drummer, which has made it very enjoyable."

Public Enemy performs at 11 p.m. Sunday, May 27, on the Movement Main Stage.

Web Site: www.movement.us

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