Rick Rubin Says Chuck D Thought Public Enemy Was Too Old To Sign To Def Jam In 1987 (Video)
In the third volume of Noisey’s series on Def Jam Records’ 30th anniversary, founders Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin devote their attentions on Public Enemy. Likely in conjunction with P.E.’s performance of “Public Enemy #1” with The Roots on Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show” yesterday (September 16), the vignette pays homage to the Long Island collective, especially their front-man, Chuck D.
Rush points out that Chuck D made Minister Louis Farrakhan accessible to young Black people in the late 1980s, by virtue of the lyrics and interludes. Simmons adds that Chuck D helped bring attention and massively increased interest to massive events like the Million Man March, and other issues, such as Arizona’s refusal to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Rick Rubin then jumps in to reveal a funny story surrounding P.E’s signing, circa 1986-1987. At the time, due to the groundswell of popularity surrounding LL Cool J, Chuck D, a college radio host, felt he was too old to be on the storied label. It’s funny, considering Chuck’s been going on strong, nearly 30 years later, never slowing down, on or off the microphone.
As an added bonus, the video plays some early pre-Public Enemy Chuck D material (Spectrum City), which released on 12″. The vignette shows the demo version of “Public Enemy #1,” which makes total sense as a radio show intro (such as Chuck’s at the time).
What do you think Chuck D meant to Def Jam’s legitimacy and diversity?