Chuck D challenges Viacom's 'cracker'

Panel discussions are usually boring. Unless Chuck D's on the couch, as was the case at tonight's "Perspectives of Hip Hop in Today's Society". The event took place at the USF Sun Dome Corral and drew a crowd of several hundred, most of 'em undergrads. The six-person panel featured a documentarian (Byron Hurt), poet (Bridget Gray), "video vixen" turned author (Karrine Steffans), and rap icons Da Brat and Public Enemy's Chuck D.

The woman authors scolded the indifferent crowd for buying records by misogynists like Nelly; the filmmaker praised Nas; Da Brat earned a couple laughs for saying there's nothing wrong with showing off her "curves;" and the Public Enemy leader dropped jaws by verbally assaulting one of the nation's most important media moguls.

Chuck D deftly skirted questions about rappers as role models and the artists' complicity in the decline of mainstream hip-hop. But he went for the jugular during his attack on MTV (where fellow P.E. member Flavor Fav earns a paycheck for starring in the tasteless "Flavor of Love"), BET and its parent company Viacom, namely Viacom boss man Sumner Redstone.

"I ought to drag that cracker out and beat his 80-year-old ass," said an impassioned Chuck D.


"That's right, he's a cracker," Chuck D continued — the audience still looking stunned. The legendary rapper then explained that a cracker was a plantation/slave owner and Redstone is the modern day equivalent. Chuck D's basic argument was that hip-hop artists are cajoled/conned by men like Redstone into exploiting themselves. (Chuck D remained mum when the poet, the eloquent Ms. Gray, mentioned that Jay-Z runs Def Jam).

Chuck D: "It's about going to [Redstone's] crib and saying: 'Cracker, what's up?'"

Fight the power, Chuck, fight the power.

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