b. Percy Chapman, New York, USA. Chapman grew up on the same street as Marley Marl, whom he pestered every day to try and get a record out, after having picked up the rap bug from his cousin Kadiya. Finally Marl acquiesced, and Chapman had his first record released, ‘Coke Is It’. It was later retitled ‘Tragedy’, after his own sorry tale. He was only 14, but instead of further releases he pursued a life of crime to support his crack habit. Inevitably, in 1988, he found himself in Riker’s Island prison on a one- to three-year sentence. However, the prison term gave him the chance to cool off, and he spent his time reading avidly. Having got through black-consciousness standards by Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammed, he was paroled just as Public Enemy arrived on the scene. Chuck D.’s bleak messages struck a chord with Chapman, and although he returned to the drug trade to support himself, he also attended college to learn more about his new heroes, Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X. Eventually he met up with Marley Marl again, by now a major hip-hop talent, who invited him to perform some more raps. The eventual results were the improvised ‘Party Pack’ and ‘Vitally Tragic’. The Intelligent Hoodlum moniker indicated a path for the future, renouncing his illegal activities but acknowledging the necessary part his criminal past had played in his development. The intelligent prefix inferred his desire to learn, and use his new-found wisdom for the benefit of himself and others. This attitude was clearly demonstrated on his debut album by the ferocious protest of ‘Black And Proud’ and ‘Arrest The President’. A second collection, titled after his own Tragedy alias, provided further bleak reportage of ghetto life. Now a practising Muslim, and affiliated to the Nation of Islam, Hoodlum also set up his own organization, MAAPS - Movement Against the American Power Structure.
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