The thing about listening to an MC step outside of the context of rap and deliver a straight-up lecture is that often the things that made him sound great as a lyricist carry through into things that make him gripping as an orator. If I were to put together a list of top five rappers I'd want to hear just talk about whatever, Public Enemy's legendary frontman Chuck D would be right up there near the top. He's been notable for doing just that in recent years, co-hosting the Air America radio show On the Real and embarking on lecture tours of the kind that brings him to the Fitzgerald this Saturday. The man who once called hip hop "the CNN for black people" is now fighting against the Lou Dobbs-ification of rap, as well as deconstructing our celebrity culture, examining the constructs of race in the 21st century, defending peer-to-peer music sharing, and breaking down America's place in the world today. Local rap fixtures Slug and PE heir Brother Ali also participate.
Sat., April 19, 8 p.m., 2008