Sometimes in an interview, you can completely piss off the interviewee and still churn out a good article. Ben Marshall could sense the hostility as he shuffled into Public Enemy’s tour bus to get an interview. Surrounding by hulking black men, Marshall very much looked out of place.
Not only did Public Enemy introduce sirens and disk scratches into their songs, they made their music political. Chuck D, lead rapper of the group said in a 2001 documentary, “Other rappers used to rap about selling drugs and stuff that happened in the hood”. Public Enemy on the other hand rapped about Martin Luther King and black equality.
Marshall’s opening question was either extremely brave or extremely stupid. “Ok Chuck, when was the first time you realised you were black?” The question was met with a whack over the head from a magazine that Chuck D was holding.
Instead of being kicked off the tour bus, Marshall was lectured on Public Enemy’s views on where American Americans should stand in the community. Chuck D and Professor Griff expressed their want for blacks and whites to be segregated. Although the interview was controversial, it made for a great article.
“When I started journalism, the access you got was ridiculous”, says Marshall. It was a time when celebrities were loose lipped and didn’t have an agent in their ear telling them what to say. Professor Griff was eventually kicked out of Public Enemy for comments in an interview. Like many music groups at the time, the members of Public Enemy certainly weren’t afraid to speak their minds.