Music

Chuck D Reminisces About Mentoring Tupac And Treach In Their Rap ‘Rookie Years’

After Chuck D explained Flavor Flav’s “split” from Public Enemy in the preview clip from this week’s episode of People’s Party With Talib Kweli, the full episode has arrived and it’s a supersized doozy. Clocking in at two hours, the two revolutionary rappers cover a lot of ground, from Chuck’s upbringing in New York to the impact of Public Enemy on hip-hop and pop culture to Chuck D mentoring Tupac early in his career.

“Tupac was like a little brother to us,” Chuck says. “He was the dude carrying bags for Digital Underground. But also, Shock G would let him get a little rhyme time if they expanded the show out. Public Enemy, our responsibility was to bring other cats on the show.” He explains that Public Enemy was one of the first hip-hop acts to leave New York and experience other regions’ takes on the burgeoning genre. “We were the first to actually go in the regions put them on the show and shout them out.”

“So ‘Pac and Treach were both carrying bags for Queen Latifah and Digital Underground… So both of these dudes, nineteen years old, we’d go to a city and they rolling out together. I said, ‘Dudes, don’t f*ck up. We ain’t gon’ come to save your ass.’ I was Uncle Chuck,” he jokes. “It was a wonderful joy seeing them young men enjoy their coming out.” He praises them as rookies who became superstars and compares himself to a coach, saying hip-hop needs more mentors to guide future generations.

People’s Party is a weekly interview show hosted by Talib Kweli with big-name guests exploring hip-hop, culture, and politics. Subscribe via Apple, Spotify, or YouTube.

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