Professor Griff Talks New Album, Performing With The Roots
April 17th, 2009 | Author: Jake Paine
Public Enemy member Professor Griff is a busy man as of late. The Long Island-born emcee and activist is preparing his latest album, with band 7th Octave, titled A God Damage. The work is the latest in a discography for Griff, who, outside of P.E., has been releasing material dating back to 1990's Pawns In The Game. "The first one was real a real heavy, Metal-like Rock sort of thing. It was a fusion. This one's gonna be a lot more funkier [sic]," Griff said to HipHopDX Tuesday of the progression between 2004's The Se7enth Degree, released on P.E. partner Chuck D's Slam Jamz imprint.
"It's not really a change of direction. When you talk about changing directions, you're talking about driving to the west coast, then turning around and going North. [Laughs] I'm not changing directions; I'm bringing out certain flavors that were already there, because the formula that we use was Funk - we pride ourselves on the old Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown [sound]. That, of course, was the formula that Hip Hop borrowed from, in its breakbeats and that kind of thing," he explained. "This time, we're gonna blend it a lot better, and bring out the funkier aspects of it. As we performed, we saw less women [laughing], and we want people to vibe to it. The main ingredients will appeal to women."
With songs like the thematic "Why You Want To Kill God?" already recorded, Griff says he's hurrying to finish the album, without compromising quality. "Me and a brother of mine from Uniondale, New York, Society, who's been with me since my first solo album as a writer, we're writing like every other day," said Griff. "I don't just want to put songs on the album. I want to do something very conceptual - even the title of the album, A God Damage, I don't define it. People hear it and ask me what it means. You tell me. That's what it means, whatever it means to you. I'm tryin' to be artistic with it, bro."
Outside of music, Professor Griff is also very involved in the Black History 101 Mobile Museum [click to read]. With museum touring season upon us, Griff stated, "I would really like to take it a lot deeper, man, and start talking about some of those black, historical facts, that we don't get a chance to talk about in the classroom and in the lecture hall and over the dinner table in black homes. The only way other races and cultures are going to appreciate it, is if we, black people, bring it to the damn table." Specifically, Griff is hoping to educate this season's visitors on the creation of Rock music, with an emphasis on black women Rock pioneers, as well as teachings on the black role colonial America and education initiatives.
On June 6, Public Enemy will join The Roots [click to read] at their annual picnic in Philadelphia [click to read], to perform the seminal 1988 album It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, an album that Professor Griff worked on. Excited about the concert, he said, "From a historical perspective, performing and doing [It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back] with The Roots is going to be monumental to me personally. [This is] in line with what other groups have come together and done. Hip Hop needs to do that at this particular time, and I'm sure you will agree with me. We can [talk] for an hour on all the reasons why Hip Hop needs to do it. [Laughs] For The Roots, who have maintained the whole concept of a live band, to do it with a Public Enemy, is very, very, very important." There may be a deeper message here too. "We need to show young kids, we need to show Hip Hop heads that yes, you have to perfect your art - and yes, you can be a musician and be in the game. You don't only have to be an emcee, deejay or producer. Yes, you can play the flute, trombone, percussion, whatever you do. Then, as a group - I want to see groups again, man! I want that whole concept of people working together, and to be in harmony, to be in sync, and to be on time...we need that."
The concert was announced shortly after a latenight network performance, which affected Griff's own contemporary music. "When we, Public Enemy and The Roots, performed 'Bring Tha Noize' on The Jimmy Fallon Show, man, it brought chills! Whew! If you pick apart what each instrument is doing, it's like 'Damn!' It made me go back to the drawing board with The 7th Octave, like, 'Man, we need to do that! A cover or somethin'!'"
This event may be historical to Hip Hop, and to the 20-plus Hip Hop veteran that's made history books. "I told Chuck, I just want to open up and do a couple songs. I want to be a part of the whole experience, so when we look back, and read the history, we can [all] look back and say, 'Damn, I was there!'"
A God Damage is intended for summer release.