Chuck D to Serve as Record Store Day Ambassador

'Let all of us music lovers GPS our way into a reality that is the record store,' said the rapper

Chuck D
Mick Gold/Redferns
Chuck D
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In an effort to get music fans to believe the hype, Record Store Day has picked Public Enemy frontman Chuck D as its next ambassador in advance of the event on April 19th. The rapper will raise awareness of the consumer event – where independent record stores offer exclusive, limited-edition releases – and for independent music retailers overall. Previous ambassadors have included Jack White, Iggy Pop, Ozzy Osbourne, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme and Eagles of Death Metal singer Jesse Hughes.

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Where Jack White released a video explaining his cause, Chuck D penned a 500-word missive about why the honor is important to him. Because Public Enemy was founded in DJ culture, and since "the founding members of Public Enemy were, and still are, DJs," the rapper notes that the record store has served as the conduit between the music makers and the listeners.

"[The record store] has been influential to the creators of so many of the greatest recordings. . . sort of a second rite of passage after the live radio or TV performance," he wrote. "Motown's Berry Gordy had a record store, Elektra founder Jac Holzman had a record store, the Stax label had their Satellite Record Shop right next to their studio. Keith Richards opens a conversation with Mick Jagger as teenagers on a UK train platform because he had a stack of hot blues records in his arms after leaving a shop."

The pioneering rapper wrote that record stores "made musicians listen beyond themselves" and "complemented and supplemented the radio," writing that he had previously advised music stores to adapt to the advent of file sharing, or the "Ice Age" as he put it. Ultimately, he feels record stores will survive because they're a place to "gather, share thoughts and suggest music."

"In this age where industry has threaded the music sound with virtual sight and story, I am honored to be called upon to be Record Store Day Ambassador of 2014," he wrote. "With the masses, neck bent into their smartphones, let all of us music lovers GPS our way into a reality that is the record store. It's worth a great try, let's do this."

Read Chuck D's full statement below:

Over 27 years and 93 countries visited, as a professional lead vocalist of the RAP group Public Enemy, I don't go one single day without emphasizing that the genre of hip-hop is spawned from DJ culture. The founding members of Public Enemy were, and still are, DJs. The tool and fuel for DJs has forever been recordings. And where these recordings have long connected, with pros and fans alike, has simply been The Record Store, the connection point of listener and the recording.

The introduction of the available recording to the public had opened and webbed the sounds of the world across the planet long before the www. It has been influential to the creators of so many of the greatest recordings as well, sort of a second rite of passage after the live radio or TV performance. Motown's Berry Gordy had a record store, Elektra founder Jac Holzman had a record store, the STAX label had their Satellite Record Shop right next to their studio. Keith Richards opens a conversation with Mick Jagger as teenagers on a UK train platform because he had a stack of hot blues records in his arms after leaving a shop. Well you should have an idea of what I'm saying here.

The record store made musicians listen beyond themselves. It both complemented and supplemented the radio, in fact the best radio stations in the past followed the vibe of the record stores of their regions, thus growing and nurturing each other. The fans and listener had everything to gain, and if they wanted to get into making music, the Record Store turned into their first school and sonic passport out.

Do not get me wrong, I am a fan of technology, but I am a bigger fan of the music. I used to be a big fan of the industry of music when it, like sport, at least offered a seemingly fair field of play, no matter where one came from. Upon the growth of Hip Hop through vinyl-cassette-Cd-MP3 I long wanted, and advised, many Record Stores ways to adapt to surviving the ICE AGE. Like last year's Record Day Ambassador, the great Jack White, I concur with his view that people want to gather, share thoughts, and suggest music. There's few musical events more exciting than Record Store performances, whether it’s Grimey’s In Nashville, Criminal Records in ATL or Rough Trade in London. I've long thought The Record Store tour circuit is so necessary and rewarding.

In this age where industry has threaded the music sound with virtual sight and story I am honored to be called upon to be Record Store Day Ambassador of 2014. With the masses, neck bent into their smartphones, let all of us music lovers GPS our way into a reality that is the Record Store. It's worth a great try, let's do this...

Chuck D
Co Founder of Public Enemy
Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame 2013

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