Rapper Chuck D. to visit U. Texas-Arlington

By Christian Ragunton
The Shorthorn, U. Texas-Arlington
September 19, 2003, Friday

As a leader of the rap group Public Enemy, Chuck D. used to attack the police in his lyrics. With his rapping days behind him, he now seeks expression through public speaking.

The rap legend will speak here Thursday for EX.C.E.L. Campus Activities' "Hip Hop in the Digital Divide." He is expected to explore topics such as race, diversity and inequality and will include his opinions on peer-to-peer file sharing and child labor laws.

"He is the kind of speaker who is inspirational and has a big message that impacts a lot of people," says Patrick Harmon, EX.C.E.L.'s Leadership and Development Director.

Through his music in Public Enemy, Chuck D. spoke on subjects such as social inequalities.

The group's seven albums were released over 13 years with acknowledgments coming from major magazines such as The Source and Time. Six of those albums reached platinum status while four of their singles hit gold.

The critical and commercial success of Public Enemy has allowed Chuck D. to extend his messages through many channels. He has been a spokesperson for a number of organizations, including the National Alliance for African American Athletes and the National Urban League. The former rapper has also starred in his own segment on the Fox News Channel and has written a best-selling autobiography.

Accounting sophomore Adeleke Omotayo says he respects the courage and bravery Chuck D. showed when rapping about such touchy subjects, but has mixed feelings about the approach he took to express himself.

"He stood up for a good cause but did it in the wrong way," he says. "Then again, back in those days you had to be that way to get your voice heard -- especially in a black man's shoes."

John Hillas, EX.C.E.L. Campus Activities' president, says the event will serve as entertainment for Chuck D. fans and as a learning experience to those people who are unfamiliar with him.

"A lot of these people are probably going to be fans of Chuck D., and it will be very gratifying for them to see someone they respect," he says. "Hopefully, there will also be some other people there who may not be so familiar with Chuck D. and Public Enemy and they'll be inclined to broaden their horizon."

Chuck D performance

The rapper of Public Enemy fame will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the University Center Bluebonnet Ballroom. Tickets cost $10 for the public, $5 for UT-Arlington students.