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Chuck D of Public Enemy inspires emerging artists at second OHIO Music Industry Summit

Alexis Eichelberger
April 17, 2019

National and regional music industry leaders—including hip-hop legend Chuck D of Public Enemy--visited Ohio University on March 28 for the second annual OHIO Music Industry Summit.

During the summit, OHIO students, the campus community and regional participants gained insight from and networked with experts working in all sectors of the music industry. The Music Industry Summit provided nearly 500 attendees throughout the day with a working knowledge of music as a business. 

Keynote speaker Chuck D spoke to a packed theater in a conversation with moderator Josh Antonuccio, a professor in the School of Media Arts and Studies and an organizer of the summit.

“What a beautiful campus!” Chuck D said after walking onstage to a standing ovation.

The artist then delved into his knowledge of the music industry, first breaking down the origins of hip-hop in jazz music and its development as an artistic outlet for anger. He also differentiated between hip-hop and rap, defining one as a movement and the others as simply a vocal technique.

“Hip-hop is just a term for the creativity spawning from the urban environment,” Chuck D said. “It’s not a music –– it’s a culture.”

He also chatted about his own development as a musician, eliciting plenty of laughs from his audience. He recalled how his sense of identity influenced the beginnings of Public Enemy and chronicled his work with director Spike Lee to write “Fight the Power” for Lee’s film Do the Right Thing.

Chuck D also intermittently acknowledged Ohio’s own strong musical culture. He described King Records, a Cincinnati-based label, as a “melting pot” of genres and musicians of different races and backgrounds.

Offering advice to emerging artists, Chuck D said current generations have the best tools ever available for music creation. He also repeatedly asserted the value of music education, encouraging those who love music to learn about it as thoroughly as possible. (Chuck D holds a BFA from Adelphi University, where he met Public Enemy co-founder Flavor Flav.)

“If you remove music and the arts from schools, you get a carcass,” he said, eliciting another round of applause. “Everybody’s got the arts in them, but you need somebody to bring them out.”

In addition to Chuck D, other highlights of the day included a discussion with Nora Felder, the award-winning music supervisor for the popular Netflix series Stranger Things, who discussed her work on cultivating the music for the series, including the upcoming third season. Sameer Gadhia, frontman for rock group Young the Giant, was interviewed by tour manager April Kulcsar about his band’s recently released album and summer tour. Additional panels focused on the economy and development of live music festivals in Ohio, as well as a panel of artists discussing their strategies in the current music market. 

The Summit also included a networking mixer in the CoLab at Alden Library with Athens’ own DJ Bobby Booshay. In addition to speaking on the artist panel earlier in the day, the hip-hop artist Blueprint, Columbus rock band Doc Robinson, and avant-pop trio WYD wrapped up the evening of the Summit with a limited-entry live music showcase in the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium Backstage.

The event was presented by Ohio University’s Center for Entrepreneurship - a program of the College of Business and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, the Ohio University Performing Arts and Concert Series, and Scripps College of Communication.