A legendary hip-hop pioneer is coming to NCC — but not to play music

BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. — A hip-hop pioneer who helped bring social awareness and political content to rap music is coming to Northampton Community College — but not to perform.

Chuck D, one of the founders of seminal rap group Public Enemy, will present “A conversation with Hip Hop legend Chuck D of Public Enemy” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in NCC’s Spartan Center.

The event will be free and open to the public as part of NCC’s 50 Years Down the Line: A Celebration of Hip Hop History and Culture, a series of events through May 2024.

Details on how to reserve tickets will be available soon at www.northampton.edu soon.

It also will be the keynote speech for NCC’s 2024 Annual Humanities Lecture.

Chuck D is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — inducted with Public Enemy in 2013, and with the group also won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.

The 63-year-old Chuck D, whose real name is Carlton Ridenhour, founded Public Enemy with hype man Flavor Flav in 1985, during the formative years of rap.

The group helped bring political and social consciousness to the musical genre.

Its 1987 debut album, “Yo! The Bum Rush Show,” sold gold, but it wasn’t until its sophomore album, “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” that it hit No. 1 on the R&B chart and sold platinum.

And it wasn’t until 1989 that it released its best-known song, “Fight the Power,” from the soundtrack of the movie “Do The Right Thing.”

It reached No. 1 on the Rap chart and sold gold, and in 2021 was chosen No. 2 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

50 Years Down the Line

Courtesy

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Northampton Community College

50 Years Down the Line is a series of events continuing this spring at Northampton Community College

Hip-hop celebration, examination

The 50 Years Down the Line series started at NCC in August as a yearlong celebration and examination of Hip-Hop culture’s “four elements:” How they came to be, how they evolved and how they continue to be practiced and thrive in American culture.

The celebration’s next event is “Wild Style”: Celebrating Hip-Hop’s First Film and its Pioneers, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, at Frank Banko Alehouse Cinema at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.

It will be a showing of the 1982 film “Wild Style,” an independent film widely recognized as the first complete cinematic representation of hip-hop culture, its music, fashion, art and way of life.

The screening will include a Q&A panel discussion with director Charlie Ahearn, Grandmaster Caz of Cold Crush, and Grandmixer DXT. It will be followed by a live DJ performance by DXT and hip-hop show by Cold Crush Brothers — Grandmaster Caz, Easy AD, Almighty KG, Tony Tone and DJ Ultimate.

Admission is free, but tickets are required.

Also scheduled as part of 50 Years Down the Line is “U.N.I.T.Y.”: A Conversation with Shanita Hubbard Concerning Empowerment and Advocacy for Well-Being of Black Women, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, The 1868 Luckenbach Mill, 459 Old York Road, Bethlehem.

An open dialogue between professors Shanita Hubbard and Andrew McIntosh, it will explore themes found in Hubbard’s published writings and recent book “Ride or Die: A Feminist Manifesto for the Well-Being of Black Women.”

‘What did hip-hop become?’

Northampton Community College in 2008 secured a National Endowment for the Humanities grant that lets faculty annually program events in a year-long exploration of a particular humanities topic specific to American culture.

This academic year, professor Andrew McIntosh chose “to explore and celebrate Hip-Hop’s 50th Anniversary.”

“It is a culmination of my lifelong practice as a DJ and over 20 years of teaching a college-level hip-hop course at Lehigh University and sociology at Northampton Community College,” said McIntosh, an associate professor of sociology.

“My aim with this grant is to give a platform to regional hip-hop practitioners, teachers and performers in the area.”

Students “grew up with hip hop, they love hip hop. They just don’t know its origins; they don’t know how it began.”

Northampton Community College Sociology professor Andrew McIntosh

McIntosh not only is a practitioner of hip-hop, but even did his college senior project on the socioeconomic conditions of hip-hop that surrounded the culture of the 1960s and ’70s in New York.

He said 50 Years Down the Line took some of the popular elements from his classes to “present to the community.”

“I decided on a variety of events that highlighted what interested students … who grew up with hip-hop, they love hip-hop,” he said.

“They just don’t know its origins; they don’t know how it began. They tangentially will know, ‘Well, isn’t graffiti part of it? Where’s break-dancing fit into this?’ And then DJ-ing, as well.

“There’s a lot of emphasis on these elements when the culture came together. This coming spring semester, I was a little more involved in imagining, ‘OK, now that we’ve established what hip-hop is in its origin, what did it become?’

“And so we have these three events exploring hip-hop becoming bigger in the movie ‘Wild Style,’ and what that means to the culture.

“And then looking at a Black woman’s point of view in Shanita Hubbard as someone who grew up and loved hip-hop but also feels very much” a victim of its misogynistic themes.

“How can she both celebrate hip-hop and be critical of it?

“And then bring Chuck D in as a keynote speaker, who I think with Public Enemy is one of the primary groups who I think took hip-hop from this sort of pop-culture energy into becoming something you can take a college class on and get four credits for,” McIntosh said with a laugh.

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