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Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin Discuss the Importance of Public Enemy

Sep 18, 2014 at 11:02 am |

Public Enemy 2009 VH1 Hip Hop Honors – Peformances

Credits: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin appeared on a special edition of Noisey’s Back & Forth series focused on the 30th Anniversary of the legendary Def Jam Recordings. In a four part series the two discuss their experiences on building the worldrenowned Def Jam Record Label. During the interview the two discuss Chuck D’s reluctance to come back to the label for fear that he was too old and couldn’t compete with rapper LL Cool J who was the label’s star at the time. Russell spoke on the groups rise to prominence saying,

“Nothing the fuck else sounded like Public Enemy. Nothing. And Rick recognized that. They were like in a way closest to the gangster group as much as they were to most conscious groups. He was tough and he had reason to be tough. He was rebellious and he had reason to be rebellious. But there were many people upset by certain things that came out of his mouth. And they should have been, because they liked the way shit was. Public Enemy didn’t like the way shit was.”

Russell also touched on Public Enemy’s influence on Black America, saying

“Public Enemy changed everything about Black America. Everything. They made Farrakhan popular. They helped make the Million Man March. They put red, black, and green shit around niggas’ necks instead of chains. They did everything. They were amazing.”

“When Public Enemy’s first album came out on the mixshows, Hip Hop only shows, they would only play the instrumental versions of Public Enemy records,” Rubin recalled. “They would not play the lyrics. They didn’t like his voice. They didn’t like what he had to say. It didn’t fit and they didn’t like that. They wanted it to be more…songs about rims. I always looked at is as counter culture. For me it was like a Black version of Punk Rock. It was bringing music back to the street.”

This month Def Jam celebrates three decades of existence with the anniversary bash, set to take place on October 16th at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Check out clips of the series below.

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“Public Enemy changed everything about Black America,” said Russell Simmons. “Everything! They made Farrakhan popular”

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