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Public Enemy and friends showcase the Art of Rap on summer tour

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STORY WRITTEN BY GARY GRAFF 
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitter

Ice-T made “The Art Of Rap” documentary four years ago to both examine the music form and also to remind younger fans that it’s been around longer than, say, Kanye West or Drake — or even Eminem, who appears in the film.
But taking The Art Of Rap on the road as a tour is maybe even more effective as far as Public Enemy’s Chuck D is concerned.  Public Enemy performs at Dell Music Center on Aug. 14. Check  www.mydelleast.com
“It was a successful film, and this is…kind of a live introduction to people who have actually been lost from the path of what (rap) is born from and what it was and what it is — and our introduction to maybe new people,” D (nee Carlton Ridenhour), says by phone from Britain. “Hip-hop has morphed into something else, and you can pin rap on anything.
“So this is something that can show people where it came from and what it’s really about.”
D, 56, bemoans the fact that rap has gotten a negative image over the year for its grangsta themes, violence, misogyny and profanity. “They usually cover all the negative news about hip-hop,” he says. “The only time a rapper or hip-hop shows up is when somebody’s been in a shooting incident or somebody’s dying. I’m like, ‘What the…is that about, man?’
“And it hurts us in the business, man. They want to cover the spectacle as opposed to the spectacular, which is the music.”
D — who’s doing double duty in the all-star rap-rock band Prophets Of Rage — and the rest of Public Enemy, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, plan to keep making that music for the foreseeable future. The group released a pair of albums in 2012 as well as “Man Plans God Laughs” last year. And like many, D isn’t sure if the full-length album is the vehicle the group will use for its next work.
“I think the thing is to make new songs,” D explains. “We’re not in the 70s, we’re not in the 90s, we’re not in the early part of this century analog world. Three four songs is enough. I mean, who’s sitting down and listening to 12 tracks of anybody?
“So we’ll come up with some number of song and we’ll keep climbing as we go along. That’s the only thing we know how to do.

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