Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Audible drops trailer for Chuck D’s hip-hop history series, ‘Can You Dig It?’

Audible released the official trailer and cover art for its new limited series, “Can You Dig It?: A Hip-Hop Origin Story.” Public Enemy frontman Chuck D narrates the five-episode series.

“Can You Dig It?” premieres on Aug. 10 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. The series chronicles a story rarely told in music history that indicates a crucial moment that led to hip-hop culture. Chuck D paints the picture of what listeners can expect:

“Dec. 8, 1971, was a defining moment in American history,” Chuck D is heard at the start of the trailer. “A time when the gangs of New York laid down their weapons and redirected their youthful energy towards the creative arts. Arts that would eventually become the foundation of what we now know as hip-hop.”

The story predates Kool Herc’s infamous Back to School party that started it all, exploring the murder of Cornell “Black Benjie” Benjamin, a member of the Bronx’s Ghetto Brothers gang. Benjamin was regarded as a respected peacemaker, and his death caused a ripple effect throughout the community, leading to the Hoe Avenue peace meeting between local gangs.

Coke La Rock, known as hip-hop’s first MC, appears in the series along with others who share firsthand accounts of the story. Former Black Panther Joseph Mpa and photographers-documentarians Joe Conzo and Henry Chalfant are also interviewed for the series, as are members of Benjamin’s family, like niece Angelique Lenox.

“If Kool Herc is considered the father of hip-hop, then my uncle was the general; my uncle was the martyr,” says Lenox. “He didn’t die in vain; something good came from his death; his life mattered. This is truly my best version of a love letter to my father and my family, and I will not stop until his name is a part of the hip-hop story.”

Episode one of “Can You Dig It?,” titled “The Bronx is Burning,” sets the story stage by informing the listener of the state of the Bronx in the 1970s. Episode two, “Old Enough to Die,” examines how and why gang culture existed in the Bronx. Episode two, “The Three Trash Cans,” talks about Benjamin’s Ghetto Brothers gang and how they evolved into a crew of peacemakers.

Episode four, “Imagine,” talks about the crucial breaking point at the time of Benjamin’s death, when Ghetto Brothers founder “Yellow Benjy” must choose between avenging Benjamin’s death or fostering a peaceful environment in the area. The final episode, “From Hopeless to Hopeful,” talks about the Hoe Avenue peace treaty that led to the eventual formation of hip-hop culture.

Provided by Shore Fire Media.

“Can You Dig It?” is Chuck D’s latest collaboration with Audible. In 2022, he teamed up with the service for his show, “Songs That Shook the Planet.” He spoke about nine of the most essential American protests between 1939 and 1990 in the 90-minute audio special, including Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” and Stevie Wonder’s “Living For the City.”

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