Chuck D of the legendary Public Enemy took the time to sit with Billboard to discuss his newly anointed honor as Record Store Day Ambassador, what vinyl has meant to him in his life and how he believes it will continue to flourish in the years to come. You can read through the most compelling points of Chuck D’s vinyl gush below, but be sure to stay tuned to the Okay-realm for an in-depth breakdown of the hottest Record Store Day releases, as well as the bevy of films that will be making their debut on April 19th. Head over to Billboard for the full script.
On his late entry into the vinyl collecting game:
“I didn’t collect records in the 70s. I was a sports fan, collecting cards and gear even though it was mostly knock-off stuff. I listened to records because my parents collected records, belonging to the Columbia Record Club and jazz record clubs. My mother was into Stax, Motown, Atlantic. My grandmother would have Etta James, Muddy Waters. I didn’t feel a need to get my own records until I was 17, 18.”
On his role as Record Store Day Ambassador:
“I hope to be somebody who comes up with a very succinct conversation that connects the past, present and future. I really think the future of record stores is connected to its past. History is fleeting to lots of people because they don’t know the whole story.”
On Public Enemy’s relationship with vinyl distribution:
“Public Enemy got signed in the CBS (on Def Jam) system. It was the first and last test of whether rap would be an album-oriented genre. When Public Enemy signed in ’86, they were planning for CDs, but it had been classical and then rock, and then big sellers. They never expected that we would move so many cassettes. They were looking at cassettes as an also-ran between what they really wanted to sell, CDs, and other configurations. When we first got into it, hip-hop was still a singles marketplace with 12-inch records, cassette albums and maybe vinyl. Vinyl’s function was three-fold: the records had the breaks, so you used it as a tool to entertain. With and the beats, it was a tool for writing. Then the record was also there to just play. Then there was the corporate call in 1992-93, you know, vinyl is dead.”