The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time

Jay Z, Eminem, Tupac, Biggie and more


Public Enemy, 'Fight the Power'

Public Enemy, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, DJ Lord
Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns

Fear of a Black Planet, 1990

Public Enemy's co­-producer Hank Shocklee said the group wanted their track for Spike Lee's explosive movie Do the Right Thing to have a "defiant, aggressive, 'I'm not gonna take it' feeling." They nailed it: No band since the Sex Pistols had pushed pop music's sonic and political possibilities as far as Public Enemy did on "Fight the Power." Chuck D blasted "straight-up racist" institutions like Elvis, John Wayne and the U.S. Postal Service, and the Bomb Squad layered samples over samples (James Brown, the Dramatics, Bob Marley) into implosive war-dance funk. With a frenetic­ protest-rally-themed video shot by Lee in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, the song was the total in-your-face package. In the summer of 1989, it seemed like it might start a revolution.

Around the Web

Powered By ZergNet

Add a Comment