September 27, 2002-- Earlier this week, in an interview just before a Public Enemy concert, group front man Chuck D spoke out about their video "Gotta Give The People What They Want." MTV refused to play the video, allegedly because it contained images of Mumia Abu Jamal. The network recently agreed to rotate the video on their sister network, MTV2, but Chuck D said he is concerned not only for his group, but for more balanced video play as it pertains to hip-hop.
"It's not about playing a Public Enemy video," he said to BET.com. "The problem is if you are just 95% one way and 5% one way and you are picky with the 5% like 'We're not going to do this...' Now you are getting picky with the 5%, [but] you not being picky with the 95%."
He went on to say that most of the hip-hop videos in rotation on MTV, the "5%," deal with offensive material - sex and violence - but there are no efforts to censor those clips.
"If you are going to say that these are the attributes of hip-hop, then you should understand that there are other things attached to hip-hop that are on the other side of the scale," he said of MTV's current programming.
Chuck D said that part of the reason why the video received airplay on MTV2 is because he began to criticize individuals within the company, not just the company itself.
"I think one of the biggest things that made this alarming is that we isolated a individual, Tom Calderone, who basically made that decision," he said. "Obviously, when you take the sheet off individuals, it shows the average person that a corporation is not as mighty as you think it is. It's a crack in the armor when you individualize people in corporations."
"My first, middle and last name, my social security number is co-signing everything that I do or things that I say, so you best believe that I am going to drag everybody into the ring. I'm not going to fall into a situation where just because a corporation protects individuals by law, I'm going to fall into that same thing.
The 42-year-old rapper also likened major corporations' might to the onetime power of the Ku Klux Klan.
"That was the whole strength - wicked strength - of the Ku Klux Klan. They all wore hoods," he said. "You could not identify the individual. It was an organization that refused to identify itself as individuals."
Chuck said he intends to approach corporations that don't have the best interests of hip-hop and African-Americans at heart like exposing the Ku Klux Klan.
"I'm going to take the sheet off. You individualize people, and it's like turning the lights on and watching the roaches run for the sink area," he explained. "It's like, 'The light's on you - what were you saying?' They'll say, 'I don't want anybody to know who I am.'"
Finally, the self-proclaimed "rhyme animal" commented on the slew of recent online petitions and their relative strengths and weaknesses.
"Online petitions are corny unless they say, 'You know what, Chuck Creekmur, we are coming for you' and your [email] address is splashed [on the internet]. Each email is kind of personal, right? Individuals always feel heat," he said.
"Everybody got a name, address, social security number, a place where they live. People know where I live. Why should I be on front street with my statements when somebody on the other side of my statements cannot identify themselves?" he asked.
Representatives for MTV declined to comment on record for this story.