Fight the Power (Public Enemy song) – Wikipedia

1989 single by Public Enemy
Fight the Power “ is a song by american hip hop group Public Enemy, released as a single in the summer of 1989 on Motown Records. It was conceived at the request of film conductor Spike Lee, who sought a melodious theme for his 1989 film Do the Right Thing. First issued on the film ‘s 1989 soundtrack, a different version was featured on Public Enemy ‘s 1990 studio album Fear of a Black Planet. “ Fight the Power ” incorporates diverse samples and allusions to african-american culture, including civil rights exhortations, black church services, and the music of James Brown. As a single, “ Fight the Power ” reached phone number one on Hot Rap Singles and number 20 on the Hot R & B Singles. It was named the best single of 1989 by The Village Voice in their Pazz & Jop critics ‘ poll. It has become Public Enemy ‘s best-known song and has received accolades as one of the greatest songs of all meter by critics and publications. In 2001, the song was ranked issue 288 in the “ Songs of the Century “ list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2021, the song was ranked number 2 in Rolling Stone ‘s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

backdrop [edit ]

In 1988, shortly after the exhaust of their second album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Public Enemy were preparing for the European leg of the Run ‘s House tour with Run–D.M.C. [ 2 ] Before embarking on the go, film conductor Spike Lee approached Public Enemy with the proposition of making a song for one of his movies. [ 2 ] Lee, who was directing Do the Right Thing, sought to use the birdcall as a leitmotiv in the film about racial tension in a Brooklyn, New York vicinity. [ 3 ] He said of his decision in a subsequent consultation for Time, “ I wanted it to be defiant, I wanted it to be angry, I wanted it to be very rhythmical. I thought right field away of Public Enemy ”. [ 4 ] At a meet in Lower Manhattan, Lee told lead MC Chuck D, producer Hank Shocklee of The Bomb Squad, and executive manufacturer Bill Stephney that he needed an anthemic sung for the film. [ 5 ] While flying over Italy on the tour, Chuck D was inspired to write most of the birdcall. [ 5 ] He recalled his idea, “ I wanted to have sorta like the same theme as the master ‘ Fight the Power ‘ by The Isley Brothers and fill it in with some kind of modernist views of what our surroundings were at that particular prison term. ” [ 5 ] The group ‘s bass player Brian Hardgroove has said of the song ‘s message, “ Law enforcement is necessary. As a species we haven ’ thymine evolved past necessitate that. Fight the Power is not about fighting authority—it ’ mho not that at all. It ’ randomness about fighting maltreatment of power. ” [ 6 ]

Recording and product [edit ]

The Bomb Squad, Public Enemy ‘s production team, constructed the music for “ Fight the Power, ” through the loop, layer, and metamorphose of numerous samples. [ 7 ] The track features only two actual instrumentalists : sax, played by Branford Marsalis, and scratches provided by Terminator X, the group ‘s DJ and turntabilist [ 7 ] —Marsalis besides played a sax solo for the stretch soundtrack adaptation of the sung. [ 8 ] In contrast to Marsalis ‘ school of think, Bomb Squad members such as Hank Shocklee wanted to eschew melodious clarity and harmonic coherence in prefer of a specific temper in the composition. Shocklee explained that their musicianship was dependent on different tools, exercised in a different medium, and was inspired by different cultural priorities, different from the “ virtuosity ” valued in jazz and classical music. [ 9 ] Marsalis later remarked on the group ‘s improper musicality :

They ‘re not musicians, and do n’t claim to be—which makes it easier to be around them. Like, the sung ‘s in A minor or something, then it goes to D7, and I think, if I remember, they put some of the A child solo on the D7, or some of the D7 stuff on the A minor chord at the end. So it sounds actually different. And the more unconventional it sounds, the more they like it. [ 9 ]

As with other Public Enemy songs, the Bomb Squad recontextualized versatile samples, and used them to complement the vocals and temper of “ Fight the Power ”. [ 9 ] The percussive sounds were placed either ahead of or behind the beatnik, to create a find of either ease or tension. [ 9 ] particular elements, such as Marsalis ‘ solo, were reworked by Shocklee so that they would signify something different from consonant coherence. [ 9 ] The Bomb Squad layered parts of Marsalis ‘ D minor improvisations over the song ‘s B♭7 groove, and frailty versa. [ 9 ] Regarding the production of the birdcall, Robert Walser, an american musicologist, wrote that the solo “ has been carefully reworked into something that Marsalis would never think to play, because Schocklee ‘s goals and premises are different from his. ” [ 9 ] On August 24, 2014, Chuck D posted a photograph on his Twitter profile of a cassette tape from the green St. studio apartment. The tape ‘s pronounce is branded with the studio apartment ‘s stigmatize and a hand-written deed suggests that the studio apartment was used for the recording of the sung. [ 10 ]

Sampling and loops [edit ]

Although it samples many different works, the full length of each sample fragment is fairly light, as most span less than a irregular, and the elementary technique used to construct them into the track was looping by Bomb Squad-producers Hank and Keith Shocklee. [ 11 ] In loop, a recorded passage—typically an implemental solo or demote —could be repeated by switching bet on and forth between two turntables playing the same phonograph record. The loop in “ Fight the Power ”, and hip hop music in general, directly arose from the pelvis hop DJs of the 1970s, and both Shocklees began their careers as DJs. [ 11 ] Although the iteration for “ Fight the Power ” was not created on turntables, it has a cardinal connection to DJing. Author Mark Katz writes in his Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music, “ many hip-hop producers were once DJs, and skill in selecting and assembling beats is required of both. [ … ] furthermore, the DJ is a central, initiation figure in rap music and a constant point of reference point in its hold forth ; producers who stray besides far from the practices and aesthetics of DJing may risk compromising their hip-hop credentials ”. [ 11 ] Chuck D recalled the track ‘s extravagant iteration and production, saying that “ we put loops on peak of loops on crown of loops ”. [ 11 ] Katz comments in an analysis of the track, “ The effect created by Public Enemy ‘s output team is dizzying, exhilarating, and tantalizing—clearly one can not take it all in at once ”. [ 11 ] He continues by discussing the joining of the output to the cultivate as a whole, express :

When Public Enemy ‘s rapper and spokesman Chuck D. explains, ‘Our music is all about samples, ‘ he reveals the centrality of recording technology to the group ‘s study. Simply put, ‘Fight the Power, ‘ and likely Public Enemy itself, could not exist without it. ‘Fight the Power ‘ is a complex and subtle testament to the influence and possibilities of good record ; but at the like meter, it reveals how the aesthetic, cultural, and political priorities of musicians shape how the engineering is understand and used. A look at Public Enemy ‘s use of loop and performative citation in ‘Fight the Power ‘ illuminates the common influences between musician and machine. [ 11 ]

composition [edit ]

musical social organization [edit ]

“ Fight the Power ” begins with a vocal sample distribution of civil rights lawyer and activist Thomas “ TNT ” Todd, speechifying in a resonant, agitate voice, “ even our best trained, best educated, best equipped, best prepare troops refuse to fight. Matter of fact, it ‘s dependable to say that they would rather switch than crusade ”. [ 7 ] This 16-second passing is the longest of the numerous samples incorporated to the cut. [ 7 ] It is followed by a brief three-measure part ( 0:17–0:24 ) that is carried by the dot rhythm of a vocal sample repeated six times ; the line “ pump me up ” from Trouble Funk ‘s 1982 song of the same name played backwards dimly. [ 7 ] The rhythmical measure-section besides features a melodic occupation, Branford Marsalis ‘ sax play in triplets that is buried in the mix, eight trap drum hits in the moment measure, and vocal music exclamations in the third measure. [ 7 ] One of the exclamations, a nonsemantic “ chuck chuck ” taken from the 1972 song “ Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get “ by The Dramatics, serves as a reference book to Chuck D. [ 7 ] The three-measure department crescendo into the comply section ( 0:24–0:44 ), which leads to the capture of the rappers and features more complex production. [ 11 ] [ 12 ] In the beginning four seconds of the incision, no less than 10 distinct samples are looped into a solid texture, which is then repeated four more times as a meta-loop. [ 11 ] The wholly section contains samples of guitar, synthesizer, bass, including that of James Brown ‘s 1971 recording “ Hot Pants “, four fragmented vocal samples, including those of Brown ‘s celebrated grunts in his recordings, and assorted percussion section samples. [ 11 ] Although it is obscured by the other samples, Clyde Stubblefield ‘s brake drum unwrap from James Brown ‘s 1970 song “ Funky Drummer “, one of the most frequently sampled rhythmical breaks in hip hop, [ 13 ] makes an appearance, with only the interruption ‘s beginning two eighth notes in the bass cram and the hook hit in clarity. [ 11 ] This section has a sharp, funky guitar flick play over staccato rhythm, as a course voice exhorts the line “ Come on, get down ”. [ 12 ] other samples include “ I Know You Got Soul “, “ Planet Rock “ and “ Teddy ‘s Jam “ .

Lyrics [edit ]

The song ‘s lyrics features revolutionist palaver calling to fight the “ powers that be ”. [ 3 ] They are delivered by Chuck D, who raps in a confrontational, unapologetic shade. [ 12 ] David Stubbs of The Quietus writes that the sung “ shimmies and seethes with all the controlled, incendiary fury and intent of Public Enemy at their acme. It ‘s set in the immediate future tense, a circumstance of permanently impending rebellion ”. [ 14 ] “ Fight the Power ” opens with Chuck D roaring “ 1989 ! ” [ 14 ] His lyrics declare an african-american position in the first poetry, as he addresses the “ brothers and sisters ” who are “ swingin ‘ while I ’ megabyte singin ‘ / Givin ‘ whatcha gettin ‘ ”. [ 12 ] He besides clarifies his group ‘s platform as a musical artist : “ nowadays that you ‘ve realized the pride ‘s arrive / We ‘ve got to pump the material to make us rugged / From the heart / It ‘s a start, a oeuvre of art / To revolutionize ”. [ 15 ] In addressing raceway, the lyrics dismiss the broad impression of racial equality and the dynamic of transcending one ‘s circumstances as it pertains to his group of people : “ ‘People, people we are the same ‘ / No, we ‘re not the same / ‘Cause we do n’t know the game ”. [ 12 ] [ 16 ] Chuck D goes on to call from the power structure to “ give us what we want/ Got tantalum give us what we need ”, and intelligent activism and organization from his african-american community : “ What we need is awareness / We ca n’t get careless [ … ] Let ‘s get down to business / Mental self-defensive fitness ”. [ 12 ] In the line, Chuck D references his consultation as “ my beloved ”, an allusion to Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s sight of the “ beloved community ”. [ 15 ] The samples incorporated to “ Fight the Power ” largely draw from african-american polish, with their original read artists being largely important figures in the development of former 20th-century african-american popular music. [ 17 ] outspoken elements characteristic of this are diverse exhortations common in african-american music and church services, including the lines “ Let me hear you say, ” “ Come on and get down, ” and “ Brothers and sisters, ” angstrom well as James Brown ‘s grunts and Afrika Bambaataa ‘s electronically processed exclamations, taken from his 1982 song “ Planet Rock “. [ 17 ] The samples are reinforced by textual allusions to such music, quoted by Chuck D in his lyrics, including “ fathom of the fetid drummer ” ( James Brown and Clyde Stubblefield ), “ I know you got soul ” ( Bobby Byrd ), “ exemption or death ” ( Stetsasonic ), “ people, people ” ( Brown ‘s “ Funky President “ ), and “ I ‘m black and I ‘m proud ” ( Brown ‘s “ Say It Loud – I ‘m black and I ‘m gallant “ ). [ 17 ] The track ‘s claim itself invokes the Isley Brothers ‘ song of the like name. [ 17 ]

third base verse [edit ]

The song ‘s third verse contains disparaging lyrics about iconic american english entertainers Elvis Presley and John Wayne, [ 18 ] as Chuck D raps, “ Elvis was a hero to most / But he never meant asshole to me / Straight up racist, the sucker was / Simple and plain ”, with Flavor Flav keep up, “ Fuck him AND John Wayne ! “. [ 19 ] Chuck D was inspired to write the lines after hearing proto-rap artist Clarence “ Blowfly ” Reid ‘s “ Blowfly Rapp ” ( 1980 ), in which Reid engages in a conflict of insults with a assumed Klansman who makes a similarly phrased, racist abuse against him and boxer Muhammad Ali. [ 19 ] The third verse expresses the designation of Presley with racism—either personally or symbolically—and the fact that Presley, whose musical and ocular performances owed much to african-american sources, unfairly achieved the cultural citation and commercial success largely denied to his black peers in rock and roll. [ 18 ] [ 20 ] Chuck D late clarified his lyric associating Elvis Presley with racism. In an interview with Newsday timed with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Presley ‘s death, Chuck D acknowledged that Elvis was held in high esteem by black musicians, and that Elvis himself admired black musical performers. Chuck D stated that the target of his line about Elvis was the white acculturation which hailed Elvis as a “ King ” without acknowledging the black artists that came before him. [ 21 ] [ 22 ] The trace disparaging John Wayne is a reference to his controversial personal views, including racist remarks made in his 1971 interview for Playboy, in which Wayne stated, “ I believe in white domination until the blacks are educated to a point of duty. I do n’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and sagacity to irresponsible people. ” [ 18 ] Chuck D clarifies previous remarks in the verse ‘s subsequent lines : “ Cause I ‘m black and I ‘m proud / I ‘m fix and hyped, plus I ‘m amped / Most of my heroes don ’ metric ton appear on no stamp / Sample a expression back you look and find / Nothing but rednecks for 400 years if you check ”. [ 12 ] [ 16 ] Laura K. Warrell of Salon interprets the poetry as an attack on embodiments of the white american ideal in Presley and Wayne, arsenic well as its discriminative culture. [ 12 ]

Release and reception [edit ]

On May 22, 1989, Professor Griff, the group ‘s “ Minister of Information ”, was interviewed by the Washington Times and made anti-semitic comments, calling Jews “ wicked ” and blaming them for “ the majority of sin that goes on across the earth ”, including financing the Atlantic slave trade wind and being responsible for south african apartheid. [ 23 ] The comments drew attention from the jewish Defense Organization ( JDO ), which announced a boycott of Public Enemy and publicized the offspring to record executives and retailers. [ 23 ] Consequently, the song ‘s inclusion body in Do the Right Thing led to pickets at the movie ‘s screenings from the JDO. [ 24 ] Griff ‘s interview was besides decried by media outlets. [ 25 ] In response, Chuck D sent blend messages to the media for a calendar month, including reports of the group disbanding, not disbanding, boycotting the music industry, and dismissing Griff from the group. [ 23 ] In June, Griff was dismissed from the group, [ 25 ] and “ Fight the Power ” was released on a one-off conduct with Motown Records. [ 26 ] Public Enemy subsequently went on a self-imposed break from the public in order to take coerce off of Lee and his film. [ 25 ] Their future single for Fear of a Black Planet, “ Welcome to the Terrordome ”, featured lyrics defending the group and attacking their critics during the controversy, and stirred more controversy for them over raceway and anti-semitism. [ 27 ] During their self-imposed inaction, “ Fight the Power ” climbed the Billboard charts. [ 25 ] It was released as a 7-inch single in the United States and the United Kingdom, while the birdcall ‘s exsert soundtrack version was released on a 12-inch and a candle maxi single. [ 26 ] “ Fight the Power ” was well-received by music critics upon its spill. Greg Sandow of Entertainment Weekly wrote that it is “ possibly the strongest dad individual of 1989 ”. [ 28 ] “ Fight the Power ” was voted the best individual of 1989 in The Village Voice ‘s annual Pazz & Jop critics ‘ poll. [ 29 ] Robert Christgau, the poll ‘s godhead, ranked it as the sixth estimable on his own list. [ 30 ] It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance at the 1990 Grammy Awards. [ 31 ] The lyrics disparaging Elvis Presley and John Wayne were shocking and offensive to many listeners at the fourth dimension. [ 19 ] Chuck D reflected on the controversy surrounding these lyrics by stating that “ I think it was the first fourth dimension that every bible in a rap song was being scrutinized word for news, and line for argumentation. ” [ 32 ]

music video [edit ]

The sung ‘s music video was filmed in Brooklyn on April 22, 1989 [ 1 ] and presented Public Enemy in part political muster, character bouncy performance. [ 33 ] Public Enemy biographer Russell Myrie wrote that the video recording “ accurately [ brought ] to liveliness [ … ] the emotion and anger of a political call up ”. [ 34 ] Spike Lee produced and directed two music video for this song. The first gear have clips of assorted scenes from Do the Right Thing. [ 35 ] In the moment video recording, Lee opened the video with film from the 1963 March on Washington and transitioned to a staged, massive political call up in Brooklyn called the “ Young People ‘s March to End racial violence. ” [ 36 ] Extras wearing T-shirts that said “ Fight the Power ” carried signs featuring Paul Robeson, Marcus Garvey, Angela Davis, Frederick Douglass, Muhammad Ali, and other black icons. [ 36 ] Others carry signs resembling the signs used to designate express delegations at a home political convention. Tawana Brawley made a cameo appearance. Brawley gained national notoriety in 1987 when, at the age of 15, she accused several police officers and public officials from Wappingers Falls, New York of raping her. The charge was rejected in court, and she alternatively was sued for purportedly fabricating her floor. Jermaine Dupri besides made a cameo. [ citation needed ]

Appearances [edit ]

“ Fight the Power ” plays through Spike Lee ‘s film Do the Right Thing. It plays in the open credits as Rosie Perez ‘s character Tina dances to the song, shadowboxing and demonstrating her personality ‘s animosity. [ 37 ] [ 38 ] The song is most prevailing in scenes with Bill Nunn ‘s imposing character Radio Raheem, who carries a boombox around the film ‘s neighborhood with the sung play forte and represents Black consciousness. [ 39 ] additionally, “ Fight the Power ” was besides featured in the afford credits of the PBS documentary Style Wars about inner-city youth using graffito as an artistic form of social resistance. [ 40 ] In 1989, “ Fight the Power ” was played in the streets of Overtown, Miami in celebration of the guilty verdict of police policeman William Lozano, whose tear of a bootleg motorist led to two fatalities and a three-day orgy in Miami that heightened tensions between african Americans and Hispanics. [ 41 ] That year, the song was besides played at the african-american brotherhood party Greekfest in Virginia Beach, where tensions had grown between a predominantly White police pull and festival-attending african Americans. According to attendees, the Greekfest riots were precipitated by a frantic crowd that had heard the sung as it was played from a black avant-garde. [ 42 ] “ Fight the Power ” besides appears in the films Jarhead ( 2005 ), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs ( 2009 ) and Star Trek Beyond ( 2016 ) .

bequest and influence [edit ]

Public Enemy ‘s explosive 1989 hit single brought rap to the mainstream—and brought revolutionary anger back to pop .

— Laura K. Warrell, Salon [ 12 ]
“ Fight the Power ” became an anthemic song for politicized young person when it was released in 1989. [ 43 ] Janice C. Simpson of Time wrote in a 1990 article, “ The song not alone whipped the movie to a fiery lurch but sold closely 500,000 singles and became an hymn for millions of youths, many of them black and living in inner-city ghetto ‘s [ sic ]. ” [ 4 ] Laura K. Warrell of Salon writes that the birdcall was released “ at a all-important menstruation in America ‘s struggle with raceway ”, crediting the song with “ capturing both the psychological and sociable conflicts of the time. ” [ 12 ] She interprets it as a reaction to “ the frustrations of the Me Decade “, including the snap epidemic in the inner cities, AIDS pandemic, racism, and the effects of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush ‘s presidencies on struggling urban communities. [ 12 ] Warrell cites “ Fight the Power ” as Public Enemy ‘s “ most accessible hit ”, noting its “ uncompromising cultural criticism, its invigoratingly danceable audio and its beat up ”, and comments that it “ acted as the arrant summation of [ the group ‘s ] political orientation and heavy. ” [ 12 ] It became Public Enemy ‘s best-known birdcall among music listeners. [ 2 ] The group closes all their concerts with the birdcall. [ 2 ] [ 32 ] Spike Lee and the group collaborated again in 1998 on the soundtrack album to Lee ‘s film He Got Game, besides the group ‘s sixth studio album. [ 44 ] Chuck D acknowledged that “ Fight the Power ” is “ the most authoritative read that Public Enemy have done ”. [ 32 ] Critics and publications have besides praised “ Fight the Power ” as one of the greatest songs of all time. [ 45 ] In 2001, the song was ranked number 288 in the “ Songs of the Century “ list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. [ 46 ] In 2004, it was ranked number 40 on AFI ‘s 100 Years … 100 Songs, a tilt of the circus tent 100 songs in american film. [ 47 ] In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the song count 322 on its tilt of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. [ 48 ] The birdcall was ranked number 2 in Rolling Stone’s 2021 list. [ 49 ] In 2008, it was ranked issue one on VH1 ‘s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop. [ 50 ] In 2011, Time included the song on its list of the all-time 100 Songs. [ 51 ] “ Fight the Power ” is besides one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ‘s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. [ 52 ] In September 2011 it topped Time Out ‘s list of the 100 Songs That Changed History, with Matthew Collin, generator of This Is Serbia Calling, citing its use by the maverick radio place B92 during the 1991 protests in Belgrade as the reason for its inclusion. Collin explained that, when B92 were banned from broadcasting news of the protests on their station, they circumvented the ban by alternatively playing “ Fight the Power ” on fleshy rotation to motivate the protestors. [ 53 ]

Cover versions [edit ]

In 1996, the song was covered by D.C.K. for the electro-industrial assorted artists compilation Operation Beatbox. [ 54 ] In 1993, the birdcall was covered by Barenaked Ladies for the Coneheads film soundtrack. [ 55 ] In 2011, American mathcore band The Dillinger Escape Plan covered the song with Chuck D. on the album Homefront: Songs for the Resistance ; a promo for the television plot Homefront. [ 56 ] In July 2020, Public Enemy did a live performance of “ Fight the Power ” at the 2020 BET Awards, aboard YG, Nas, Black Thought, and Rapsody, among others. [ 57 ]

Charts [edit ]

Certifications [edit ]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[62]
Video longform
Gold 50,000^
^ Shipments figures based on authentication alone .

References [edit ]

bibliography [edit ]

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