The return of Professor Griff 

An interview with Public Enemy's controversial Minister of Information

In 1989, revolutionary black-power hip-hop group Public Enemy was in the midst of its greatest stretch of music making. Then in May of that year, The Washington Times quoted P.E.'s non-performing Minister of Information, Professor Griff (Richard Griffin), as saying "the majority of [Jews]" are responsible for "the majority of wickedness that goes on across the globe," and other anti-Jewish statements. In the media storm that ensued, Griff was kicked out of the group and, for a short time, P.E. broke up entirely. They were soon back, though, and years later, Griff was quietly welcomed back into the P.E. fold, where he remains.

While he largely disappeared from public consciousness in 1989, Griff released a number of solo albums during the 1990s. More recently, he's given lectures on "hip-hop and revolution" in Atlanta, where he now lives, and is working on a hip-hop children's music project, Hiphop Kids Biz. Griff led a Hiphop Town Hall Meeting in Atlanta during Hiphop Appreciation Week in late May.

Creative Loafing: At the town hall meeting, you said, "No one would sign me after that quote unquote Jewish comment." That's referring to the [incident from 1989]?

Professor Griff: Right, I know exactly what I was referring to. I can't give it to you in this conversation, simply because I'd have to go back and give you documented history before I repeat that statement. Because that ni--r took that comment out of context.

How was it taken out of context?

Like I said, I'd have to explain the history and give the historical research behind it, and then give you the comment that was made. And that, I'm not willing or able to do.

Under what circumstances would you do that?

If we had a couple of armed guards [laughs], and the conversation was recorded with some Jewish people and some black people there that we respected. Because the last time I had a conversation like this, it ended up in a shit storm. And it's really sad.

So the quote that got into the press, do you stand by it?

No, I can't stand by something taken out of context. If I said to you, "Nelly needs to respect hip-hop history." And you write, "Professor Griff said Nelly needs his ass whipped," that's on you, bro. And you might get the ass whipping, because you're writing something I never said.

So you never said those words that came out?

Exactly. How that guy twisted that thing up to make me sound like I was condemning people, that's bad.

So you were not condemning anyone?

No, definitely not. I was stating historical facts.

What historical facts?

Like I said, I have historical documents backing what I say up.

So you have historical documents proving Jews are responsible for the majority of wickedness in the world?

I never said that, and I'm not lending any credence to that statement at all.

How much has this thing affected your career?

Wooh! Fuck a career. That affected my whole life. Physically got poisoned, got ostracized. Now to a certain degree, I'm hated by black people; I'm hated by other people. That's not cool, bro. Just for some ni--r taking my words out of context.

So there was nothing about it that you regret?

I think it was probably the manner in which it was presented. Right now, me and you are talking, and if I get excited or express certain points, grammatically it might not come out the way it should have. The way I say it and the way you write it are two different things, right?

No, I'm going to write exactly what you say.

Well, I wish David Mills would've done that. If he had, you and I wouldn't be having this conversation right now.

So can you answer yes or no, do you feel that Jews were responsible for the majority of wickedness ...?

I can't answer yes or no to that simply because it's a statement I never made.

I'm not asking if you said it, I'm asking right now, do you feel that way?

No, that's fucking foolish, I don't believe that. And I told them that then. Even if we just took the word wickedness and defined it, then went all across the globe to see who was at the bottom of all the wickedness, you're not going to find Jewish people. There's all kinds of people. So how could I lend something to that statement?


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Latest in Cover Story

Readers also liked…

More by Roni Sarig

Restaurant Review: Bread & Butterfly
Restaurant Review: Bread & Butterfly

Search Events

  1. Goat Farm Economics 6

    Can art and good old-fashioned capitalism breathe new life into one of Atlanta’s most historic and overlooked neighborhoods?
  2. Solving downtown's homeless problem begins with taking the red pill 95

    Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter is the root of downtown's image problem
  3. What is your license plate telling police? 15

    Every day, Atlanta police scan license plates to search for lawbreakers - but where does all of the information go?

Recent Comments

© 2016 Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation