Posted on Feb 24, 2006

Maybe he should be Professor D.
On Thursday night, Chuck D, a founding member of celebrated rap group Public Enemy, delivered a free-wheeling talk at Union College, where he touched on subjects such as history, sociology and musicology, to name a few.

About 200 people attended the talk, called “Race, Rap, Reality and Technology.”

The rap star was energized by his surroundings, the ornate, 16-sided Nott Memorial, and told students they should be proud of the history surrounding them.

That, and other serious pursuits, are losing out in this country to lower goals, he said.

“The new drug of America happens to be celebrity,” said the 45-year-old rapper, who decried what he perceived as a dumbing-down of the country. “Every time I leave Hollywood, I've got to go to IQ rehab.”

He lamented hip-hop's devolution into thugdom and poked fun at the BET cable channel, which he called “the Booty and Thug network.”

Look up old-school rap, and P.E.'s man-in-a-target logo might as well show up in the dictionary. The group, which offers a mix of rage, lyrics urging radical social change and a furious beat, exploded with its 1988 second album, “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” and subsequently released two other seminal albums.

Chuck D, born Carlton Douglas Ridenhour, still makes albums with Public Enemy. But he's branched out beyond the CD.

He has a weekly radio show on the liberal Air America radio network. He makes the rounds of college campuses, delivering speeches. And he was among the pioneers of distributing music via the Internet.