At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony last night, Public Enemy's Chuck D had high praise for one of his 2013 classmates, the late blues guitarist Albert King. The rap group's chaotic wall of sound was deeply inspired by "the power in those chords on those Stax recordings," he said. "Albert King was always Terminator X's main dude."
Public Enemy were once introduced to the imposing bluesman while on tour in Sydney, Australia, Chuck D recalled: "Terminator was touched to meet him. And I think a month and a half later, Albert King passed away."
Like the hip-hop acts who were inducted before them – Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., the Beastie Boys – Public Enemy's induction will help pave the way for other hip-hop acts to be recognized as part of the rock & roll tradition, he said. "Not just to be inducted into a club, but for people to be able to come into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, people saying, 'Well, you know, this kind of fits. It works' . . . It's not what we can do for ourselves, but what we could do for others. I know it sounds kind of corny, but we're here because of the efforts of guys before us."
He also addressed the antics of band's comic foil, Flavor Flav, who was on his game (and off his meds?) at the ceremony. Leading the group for 26 years has required him to be a kind of "camp counselor," Chuck said.
"Flavor is Flavor because of many different reasons. He brings it out onstage. It's about how to harness that, how to taper that." On this night, Chuck D allowed, "he went outside of the tapering."
Text by James Sullivan