Chubb Rock jumped into hip-hop in the 1980s and hasn’t yet given it up. The big man still tours, and will be in town this weekend for a DSU alum party that's open to the public. He took some time out to talk about what keeps him in the hip-hop game and how it’s changed since the days of Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh.
Chubb Rock jumped into hip-hop in the 1980s and hasn’t yet given it up. The big man still tours, giving audiences a taste of his early hits like “Treat ‘Em Right” and “Just the Two of Us” and introducing them to his new sound. He’ll be in Dover to help DSU alum celebrate with the sound they loved during their school days. He took some time out to talk about what keeps him in the hip-hop game and how it’s changed since the days of Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh.
Q What will we hear when you’re in Dover next week?
A That right there is what I do best, that’s the old school party is what we do. It’s something of an alumni show. They’re all going to remember that vibe, they’re going to remember being at school and partying in that manner. That’s going to be easy and everybody will leave there feeling good in their stomach, thinking that they’ve been part of something and they got to relive it for the night.
Q What are you listening to now?
A A lot of the neo soul people are Anthony Davis and Eric Roberson and Leela James, they’re really being true to the music. I think they’re really making Smokey Robinson proud. Lalah Hathaway, I think that she is incredible. In hip-hop I still love my boy Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, there’s probably a few others.
I come from a time that’s hard to beat. I don’t see anybody beating Public Enemy, Rakim and Ice Cube, the Slick Ricks of the world, it’s really hard for me to see that.
I don’t know if the moons were just aligned or they were just more creative. Hip-hops’s always mimicked what’s going on with kids, and I think kids were smarter and more creative back then. Now kids are walking away from traditional things. Kids want to go from walking to driving Bentleys.
Q Why do you think old school guys like you are still booking tons of shows?
A I think the old school guys have a different knowledge of how to work a stage. Not to criticize the younger guys, but they didn’t come up having to open for Luther Vandross or Anita Baker where your stuff had to be correct. Most of those old school rap guys like Cool Moe Dee and Doug E. Fresh had to have a show, back then people demanded that you had a show. It couldn’t be, “I’m just going to stand here and sing my songs.” They want them to go home and say, “Man, that was the best show I’ve seen in years.” It keeps the legacy going, and you’re not going to disappoint them in any way. That’s what’s important for us.
You have people who think hip-hop is only for 20 year olds, or you can only be in hip-hop for a certain amount of time, that you have these expiration dates on artists. Then you’re not a real genre. There is no expiration date on Paul McCartney. There is no expiration date on their craft, so why would you put one on hip-hop.
Q What are you working on now?
A I’m on the radio in New York City, WBLS, so I’m really heavy into broadcasting. And we have a new single out with dance music legend Sybil, “Searchin’ 4 Luv,” and this summer we did “Summertime Anthem,” and we’re working on an album that should be out next spring.
Q What has changed with you and audiences since you started in the ‘80s?
A It’s like anything else, when you’re younger you have a mind of a younger person. When you get older, you’ve seen life in a different way and you’ve seen how things have changed. There are so many different things to write about now and you’re glasses are different, you’re wearing a different pair of glasses. But there are people who grew up with hop-hop who are our age and older who don’t want to listen to kid stuff. We have that approach, that older audiences to a degree have left hip hop and have found gospel to give them what they want, or world music or some other genre because hip hop no longer gives them what they want. That’s what I’m doing now.
Most of the time they just end up listening to the old stuff. Which is great, that keeps that music alive, but give them something new.