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Chuck D

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As the founder of Public Enemy, Chuck D. is one of the most colossal figures in the history of hip-hop, not to mention its most respected intellectual. He redefined hip-hop as music with a message, and his strident radicalism ushered in an era when rap was closely scrutinized for its content; although rap's primary concerns have changed over the years, its status as America's most controversial art form has only gotten stronger since Public Enemy hit the scene. Chuck D. was born Carlton Douglas Ridenhour in Roosevelt, Long Island, on August 1, 1960. His parents were both political activists, and he was a highly intelligent student, turning down an architecture scholarship to study graphic design at Long Island's Adelphi University. While in school, he put his talents to use making promotional flyers for hip-hop events, and went on to co-host a hip-hop mix show on the campus radio station with two future Public Enemy cohorts, Bill Stephney and Hank Shocklee. Under the name Chuckie D, he rapped on Shocklee's demo recording, "Public Enemy No. 1," which caught the interest of Rick Rubin at Def Jam. In response, the now simply named Chuck D. assembled Public Enemy, a group designed to support the force of his rhetoric with noisy, nearly avant-garde soundscapes. Public Enemy debuted in 1987 with Yo! Bum Rush the Show, a dry run for one of the greatest three-album spans in hip-hop history. Released in 1988, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back was acclaimed by many critics as the greatest hip-hop album of all time, and was instrumental in breaking rap music to white, alternative rock audiences. Fear of a Black Planet (1990) and its follow-up, Apocalypse '91...The Enemy Strikes Black, consolidated Public Enemy's position as the most important rap group of its time. There were storms of controversy along the way, most notably Chuck D.'s endorsement of the polarizing Muslim minister Louis Farrakhan, and group member Professor Griff's highly publicized anti-Semitic slurs. But on the whole, Public Enemy's groundbreaking body of work established Chuck D. as one of the most intelligent, articulate spokesmen for the black community. He became an in-demand speaker on the college lecture circuit (much like his peer KRS-One), and was frequently invited to provide commentary on TV news programs. Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age (1994) found the group's status slipping, and the following year Chuck put PE on hiatus while planning its next move. In the meantime, he released his first solo album, The Autobiography of Mistachuck, in 1996, and published the book version of his autobiography the following year. He reconvened Public Enemy for the soundtrack to Spike Lee's 1998 film, He Got Game, and the following year left Def Jam over the label's refusal to allow him to distribute Public Enemy music via free Internet downloads. Signing with the web-based Atomic Pop label, Chuck became an outspoken advocate of MP3 technology, and made 1999's There's a Poison Goin' On... the first full-length album by a major artist to be made available over the Internet (it was later released on CD as well). He continued his lecturing into the new millennium and made regular appearances on the Fox News Channel as a commentator. Even if Public Enemy never recaptures the popularity or vitality of its glory years, Chuck D.'s legacy is secure enough to keep him a respected voice on the American cultural landscape. ~ Steve Huey
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Stations Featuring
Chuck D


Albums by
Chuck D

Top Songs by
Chuck D

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Survival
  3.   Teenage TV
  4.   Wipe Out
  5.   Go into Town
  6.   Generation Wrekkked
  7.   Breeze In The Song
  8.   The Internet
  9.   Free Big Willie
  10.   Bodies
  11.   Caroline
  12.   Hudson
  13.   Cherry Tree
  14.   Death
  15.   Mistachuck
  16.   Time
  17.   The Pride
  18.   Talk Show Created the Fool
  19.   Stand Clear
  20.   Oceans
  21.   Intro by Chuck D
  22.   Underdog
  23.   Trick Or Treat
  24.   Bulldog [Interlude]
  25.   Hit the Road
  26.   Bushwick Girl
  27.   Happy New Years Babe
  28.   Stoner
  29.   Becky
  30.   Get Away From Here
  31.   So Walk
  32.   New Yorker
  33.   Paid
  34.   Breathing Techno
  35.   Endonesia
  36.   Meow
  37.   Niggativity...Do I Dare Disturb The Universe?
  38.   Pictures
  39.   Horizontal Heroin
  40.   It's Gonna Rain
  41.   Joan
  42.   Wake Up the Sleeping Giant
  43.   Camel Lights
  44.   Let's Make Out
  45.   Atomic Drink
  46.   Slow
  47.   But Can You Kill The Nigger In You?
  48.   Happy Birthday
  49.   Dogs
  50.   No
  51.   Grocery Store [Interlude]
  52.   Mary Anne
  53.   Kiss [For Janne]
  54.   Phoebe's Lips
  55.   America

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