WATCH: Chuck D Explains How Run-DMC And Jam Master Jay Helped Birth Public Enemy

Public Enemy

Chuck D. explains how Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay inspired him to record his first song “Public Enemy #1.”

By: Chuck D., as told to

I knew that was gonna put together an album [What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?]. Then I reached out to people like George Clinton. And I reached out to Run and DMC and also Mike (D), and Adam (King Ad-Rock of The Beastie Boys]. 

And to me, that was my present, paying homage to the guys that dragged me in for “Public Enemy #1.”

I don’t know how many rap artists actually were chased down for two years and kept saying no to anybody. People talk about bidding wars and all that but they wanted to do records. 

Me, I’m like “no” and from starting from 1984, with that song. Rick [Rubin] called the crib, and I’m like, “Nah, man, I’m not home.” So I rejected a record for label and a guy who’s a fledgling producer and had already proven himself with Run-DMC. 

I rejected it until later on it was sort of like a surrender. We wanted to get into syndicated radio. Once I saw that that dream wasn’t going to happen I mean, syndicated rap radio? What are you out of your mind? So I guess we make records, then you know? 

The turning point was going to see Run and D at Garden when they had the adidas. 

And Jay turned around and said “this ain’t bad is it? So that was the great surrender and you saw me late on that year signing the contract [with Def Jam]. But not too long after that concert is when we said “OK.” That was the tail end of the Raising Hell concert.