Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It Takes a Nation of Millions (And a Good Moderator)

As if the Pitchfork Music Festival didn't already hold enough thrills, Future of Music Coalition is co-presenting a panel discussion on Public Enemy's seminal hip-hop album It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, at the the Chicago Cultural Center's Claudia Cassidy Theater on Thursday, July 17. (The group will perform the album in its entirety at the Pitchfork Fest the following evening.)

Icon Chuck D will join Hank Shocklee and Keith Shocklee — one half of Public Enemy's production unit, the Bomb Squad — to discuss the cultural conditions and creative energy that informed this legendary album. Harry Allen (journalist, activist, and PE "Media Assassin") will also participate in the panel, which will be led by media professor and documentary filmmaker Kembrew McLeod.

Journalist and FMC pal Alexandra Richmond recently caught up with Kembrew for a quick Q&A:

Alexandra Richmond: Kembrew, you're an established agitator, academic, and documentary filmmaker. What can music fans expect from the panel you will moderate during the Pitchfork festival?

Kembrew McLeod: As moderator, my job will be to move the discussion forward so that we can cover a wide range of topics. The members of Public Enemy will be the stars of the show, and because I've done several interviews with the individual panelists over the years, I know what topics will be of interest to both them and the audience. In addition to having them tell us about the fascinatingly innovative ways they put together their music in the studio twenty years ago, we will also talk about the cultural and political contexts they were reacting to in the 1980s, which their music was a part of.

AR: Are there any acts in particular you're looking forward to seeing during the fest?

KM: I'm looking forward to seeing PE, of course, but aside from that I'm looking forward to seeing several artists, including: Dizzee Rascal, !!!, Fleet Foxes, Spiritualized, Ghostface & Raekwon, and Jarvis Cocker, to name a few.

AR: Have you ever shared a stage with PE before?

KM: I've shared a panel stage with Hank Shocklee before. But as for a concert, the closest I've ever come to sharing a stage with PE was when Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock (of "It Takes Two" fame) opened for PE in 1990, and they invited the audience onstage to dance. I bum rushed the
stage and busted a few moves, but it became clear that Mr. Base was only looking for the ladies to come up, so I meekly crawled off stage.

Admission to the panel discussion is free, but reservations are required. Email

FMC and Pitchfork Music Festival Present:
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theatre
Thursday, July 17, 2008, 3 pm

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