American rapper Chuck D said hip hop “rose out of the concrete” to become a worldwide hit as he spoke about a forthcoming BBC documentary exploring the music genre.
The 62-year-old Public Enemy frontman, real name Douglas Ridenhour, has released hits such as Fight The Power, Rebel Without A Pause and Don’t Believe The Hype with the band.
He spoke on Thursday ahead of the release of four-part BBC music documentary Fight The Power: How Hip Hop Changed The World, which takes its name from Public Enemy’s song.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “It shows the reasons, how hip hop evolved, like arose out of the concrete, against all odds.
“And now, it’s across the world in 200 countries, and it’s just a way of life and cultures, the thing that brings us together as human beings.”
He added that hip hop came out at a time when black people could not “speak out against” oppression.
The BBC has said the series will explore “the relationship between politics and the hip hop movement” with first-hand accounts from Eminem, Ice-T, Killer Mike, LL Cool, Monie Love and will.i.am.
Chuck D added: “What’s the connection to young people growing up in the UK? That connection could be the beginnings of foundation, DJ Kool Herc from Jamaica.
“There’s a similarity there. There’s a bridge at the beginnings of these cultures, which comes basically out of musicianship.”
He was also asked about the critics of hip hop who see it as glamorising violence, gang membership and misogyny and he replied that you can say the “same thing” about governments.
The musician responded: “The thing about it, they probably have a disconnection with the right source to teach them. That’s why we made the documentary.”
He also spoke about the “momentum” to ease the differences in education, environment, economics and enforcement in America’s black community.
Musically, Chuck D he is also known for Prophets of Rage, which features members of Rage Against The Machine and Cypress Hill.
Public Enemy was found in Long Island, New York, in the 1980s with Flavor Flav and Chuck D.
The hip hop group were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2013 and have had six Grammy nominations.
Fight The Power: How Hip Hop Changed The World will air on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer on Saturday.