CULTURAL POLEMIC Fight The Power Chuck D (Payback Press £7.99)
Chuck D is a rare creature in the world of contemporary popular culture - someone who has mixed his extreme political views with his music and remained consistent on both counts.
As main rapper, leader and media figurehead of US rap racketeers Public Enemy for the last fifteen years, Chuck has released some of hip hop's most compelling sounds combined with some of rap’s most powerful polemic.
In his print debut Fight The Power: Rap, Race And Reality, Chuck has delivered what he regards as 'part memoir, part treatise, part State of the Union Address'. He examines the position of the black race in the US and overseas as well as tracing the rise of hip hop to that of global cultural phenomenon. These analyses are pitched side by side with his own personal development from graphic art student Carlton D Ridenhour to Chuck D, the hard rhymer.
He uses his experiences touring the
Mind the rap: Chuck D
world with Public Enemy to help illustrate the inherent possibilities for black America. His frequent visits to Africa — particularly Ghana — put into perspective what he sees as the suppression of African American potential throughout society; prime examples include alcohol marketing, advertising and the entertainment industry. A devout Muslim, Chuck is an outspoken activist within the black community and took a job as roving reporter on Fox News Channel attempting to redress the balance for the lack of coverage of ’minority' opinion in the news.
In a three-year hiatus from the band, he indulged in other side projects as well as writing, including starting his own record label, SLAMJamz, and having the dubious honour of making his acting debut in Burn Hollywood Burn.
Another bee in Chuck’s New York Knicks cap is the corporate control of the music industry. He has frequently spoken out about record label pressure which
has led to a commercialisation of hip hop and, this year, he took steps to subvert that notion through the use of technology. Public Enemy's last album, There’s A Poison Goin' On, was initially released over the internet only on MP3 format to great success.
He is among a growing number of major music stars, including The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, who have sidestepped major record label control through online distribution. Within the book, he discusses how technology can play a role in black development - e- commerce being one of many ways to turn the 'black man back into a business man’.
Some may argue that he has lost a degree of his potency since the demise of arch enemy Ronald Reagan but the book reaffirms that, whether on vinyl or in print, Chuck and those like him are as vital and relevant as ever. (Mark Robertson)
I Fight The Power is published on Wed 7 Dec.
Celebrity snares: Lynn Barber
Demon Barber Lynn Barber (Penguin £8.99)
lntervrewmg Lynn Barber is like making lunch for Delia Smith. Exposed before one of the masters of your craft, you half expect a lecture about your technique. Not that ‘the demon Barber’ SOundS particularly demonic, she’s sweetly-spoken and charming, which she admits often disarms the nervous interViewee. ’They think I’m gomg to be terribly frightening and formidable, and then they're goite pleasantly surprised when they actually meet me.’
Her reputation is not wholly undeserved, the celebrity profiles collected in Demon Barber are always intriguing and freQUently funny, but sometimes very, very scathing Harriet Harman is ’thick’, Richard E. Grant is a ’bastard' and Felicity Kendal’s hands are ’hideous claws'. Does it ever cross
her mind that she might have someone in tears? ’l think I w0uld .DUbllSh it anyway Your job as an interViewe.r is to work for yOur readers, and how the subject reacts isn’t that relevant? Hence Barber’s unashamed snOOping into her Subjects’ private lives, the legacy of an unusual career path from Penthouse vra The Sunday Express to The lndependent and The Observer, and a delight to broadsheet readers With secret tabIOid tastes. 'I brought a tabIOidy background to a broadsheet newspaper, and I suppose other people followed that,’ she concedes. But the philosophy of the writer who redrew the bOundaries of the celebrity interView is a simple one, born of a healthy disrespect for her Subjects: ’We‘re giving them free publiCity, and they jolly well ought to make some effort to be interesting in return!’ (Hannah lvchill) I Demon Barber is published on Thu 25 Nov,
Putting debut novelists under the microscope. This issue: Iseult Teran Who she? lseult Teran is the ludicrously glamorous and exotic 26-year-old daughter of novelist Lisa St Aubin de Teran and VeneZuelan aristocrat, revolutionary and bankrobber Jaime Teran As a child, she travelled Europe and Soutn America in her eccentric mother's wake, on the run from her vrolent father. She then married film director Michael H Postino Radford when she was 17 and he was 46 She had a child a year later, got tuberculosis, ran away from her husband and re-married.
Her debut It’s called Dolce Vita and tells the tale of Una, a ludicrously glamorOus and exotic Sixteen-year-old girl who drifts around the world swathed in rich fabrics and Surrounded by adoring older men All is languid, luxurious and expenSive until sordid reality crawls Out from under the chinOiserie It's based, unsurpriSingly, uoon Teran’s own teenage diaries, including the disaster that She now says propelled her into an ill-adVised first marriage.
Basically Basically, it's an amuSingly affected bohemian-aristocratic fantasy of spoi‘t, sexy, carefree adolescence with a nasty tWist. Una is precooously elegant, reads Proust on the beach, sin0kes Gitanes and keeps wonderful wardrobe notes l’ballet pumps . . kimonos seamed Stockings . . . cigar holder . amber earrings’), thus prowding all the Sublime escapism of a Vogue ‘ashion Shoot until disaster strikes.
First line test ’Nearly two hours spent Srtting in the studio With Henri, trying to keep the subject off sex.’
Grand claims corner It can be grandly and truthfully claimed that Teran looks like She just fell off a catwalk. As a storyteller she's been compared to her mother but critics tend to value her Vivid life above her colourful prose.
To whom the book is dedicated ’For my husband Nick and my son Felix.’ (Hannah lvchill)
1 Dolce Vita is published by Flamingo priced £72.99.
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l8 Nov—2 Dec 1999 THE ll3T115