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At 38, Public Enemy's Chuck D goes 'where no age has gone before'

"The He Got Game soundtrack was treated shabbily," Chuck says. "We're headed into a new contract option November 1, where they either gotta let us go, which would be a dream, or re-sign us. Plus, I think Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen have been the biggest detriment, and it keeps us from actually doing this tour full-force. We got catalog, but we're not getting any support. We're at two fucking extremes...It's intentional sabotage. I'm not going to even let anybody hear There's a Poison Goin On till our status is clear.

"I don't have a problem with PolyGram. I don't have a problem with Def Jam or its personnel. I just have a problem with two people, and that goes for myself and Flavor equally. You don't like to splash the business down to the public, because the public is pretty simple: You do music; I like the music; I'll buy the music."

After this tour, Chuck will take care of business, then return to the studio to record a second solo record with a full band, which he plans to take on the road. He will also finish writing his second book, tentatively titled either Anatomy of a Black Circus Within or Anatomy of a Rap Circus Within--either way, it's a day-to-day diary beginning with the release of Fight the Power, dealing with his disagreements with Simmons and Cohen, and continuing through the recording of He Got Game and the end of the Smokin' Grooves tour.

Indeed, when asked how he and Flav and the Bomb Squad got along during the recording of He Got Game, Chuck first laughs and says, "It's in the book."

Then he offers this: "At times, it was bananas. It was an...experience."
A pleasant one?
"Not all the time, no."
Was it a rewarding experience?

"Um..." He pauses. "You're always rewarded by learning certain things." And the next chapter begins.

Public Enemy headlines the Smokin' Grooves tour, which comes to Starplex Amphitheatre August 7. Also scheduled to appear are Cypress Hill, Wyclef Jean & The Refugee All-Stars featuring Canibus, Busta Rhymes, Gang Starr, Black Eyed Peas, Pras, and Mya.

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