Duke Eatmon brings his arsenal of musical knowledge to Chuck D Presents: This Day in Rap and Hip Hop History
In Montreal, probably in all of Canada, Duke Eatmon, with his unique ability to research and retain details on artistes, industry, and trends or movements, stands as one of the most knowledgeable voices on music, especially those that really pique his interest.
Chuck D has been described as one of the most influential voices in Hip-Hop, a master craftsman of the genre who brought intellectual heft to his compositions to accompany his creative heft.
He is the MC and front-man of Public Enemy, one of the most influential hip hop groups founded in New York in the mid- 1980s and captivated the world’s attention with a catalogue of conscious music.
What is considered to be two of their most notable albums, Fear of A Black Planet, released in 1990 and It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back released in 1988 voice the frustrations and aspirations of African Americans like no other artiste of their generation and consolidated Public Enemy and Chuck D’s place as spokespersons of social and political resistance in modern culture.
Throughout the late 80s and 90s, they piled up several gold and platinum albums that earned them a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, among other halls of influence around the world.
“Chuck D has been my hero from my teenage years,” Duke says. “He brought a voice and personality that are as intense as anyone I’ve ever seen.”
Chuck D describes Duke as a “documentarian to the T”, alluding to his respect of the Montreal music man’s knowledge of music and their long and lasting friendship.
Out of that mutual admiration and respect for each other comes a seminal piece of literary offering comes a seminal literary offering that presents itself as the conclusive historical documentation of Hip Hop music as it enters what is deemed to be its 44th year.
The book, This Day in Rap and Hip Hop History (Chuck D Presents) is a 342-page hardcover masterpiece that offers a calendar of landmark events from the birth and evolution of the music.
New York’s Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers publish it, with contributions and editing by Ron Maskell, Lorrie Boula and Rolling Stone’s Johnathan Bernstien, with a foreword by Shepard Fairey, one of the U.S.’s most acclaimed street artists and activists whose 2008 “Hope” poster of Barack Obama earned him international prominence.
Duke who is responsible for 99.9% of the documentation in the book looks back on five years of painstaking research, interviews and harvesting stories to produce this compilation of Hip Hop’s history in calendar form.
Compiling his findings together with his accumulated knowledge from more than 30 years in the music industry as a musician, deejay, radio host, writer and university lecturer made for what Duke said might have been two to three books of the same size.
“It was a challenge coming up with some of the information because they’re documented and kept in so many different places and there’re so many different sources,” he says. But music has been my passion for all of my life and working with Chuck D has become second nature because we’re such close friends.”
Duke says the foundation of the book was drawn from research done for a radio show that he hosted with Chuck D at 99.5 FM WBAI on the Pacifica Network.
He added that because they shared a heightened passion for the preservation of Black music, they wanted to make sure that Hip Hop doesn’t go the way of jazz or blues with widespread confusion about the genesis of those genres.
With the publication of This Day in Rap and Hip Hop History comes the satisfaction of seeing their lifework come alive and the confidence that they brought to bookshelves at libraries and other documentation centres on coffee tables around the world, the first draft of the rapidly evolving history of hip hop.
Duke says, as expected there’s a lot of material that didn’t make into the book, including the bios of many of the pivotal artistes and much of the Canadian references, but the path is cleared for more to come.
Also, he holds up the publication “as a bible” to anyone with even a passing interest in a genre that has forcefully imposed itself as the most influential and commanding musical statement of our time.
Duke credits Chuck D with the most profound statement on the potential impact of This Day in Rap and Hip Hop History: “Now no one can freestyle the history of rap and hip hop.”
Duke will be signing copies of the book at Indigo/Chapters bookstore downtown on October 28, and Chapters (Complex Pointe Claire) November 4
This Day in Rap and Hip Hop History is also available online @Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble.