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Public Enemy's "Fight The Power": The Revolution Is Televised
Formed in the mid-1980s, rap group Public Enemy is a cultural phenomenon. The group was led by Chuck D, and his partner-in-crime Flavor Flav. The group's music was different from other hip hop groups at the time. Together, with production team The Bomb Squad, they created an intense mix of funk, rock and hip hop that captivated audiences around the world with their politically-charged lyrics that addressed injustices against Black people within American society.
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Originally signed to Def Jam Records, Public Enemy released their debut album Yo! Bum Rush The Show in 1987, which went on to be certified gold. From there they went on to release several critically acclaimed albums such as Fear Of A Black Planet (1990) and Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black (1991). Their albums were bursting with messages about racism and inequality which resonated heavily with fans across all genres of music.
Public Enemy's iconic song "Fight the Power" has been inspiring people to fight for their rights since its release in 1989. The music video for the song is as powerful and iconic as the lyrics themselves. Directed by Spike Lee, the song was part of his movie "Do The Right Thing," which starred Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Rosie Perez and Giancarlo Esposito among others.
Queue Points Podcast Episode on Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back
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The video incorporates an on-location shoot of Public Enemy as part of a realistic community march in Brooklyn on April 22, 1989. The music video show the group part protest and part performance. Scenes in the video are intercut with archival images, the group, and the community chanting “fight the power.” Lee captured some powerful images that really gave realism to the video.
Chuck D and Flavor Flav along with Professor Griff, the S1Ws and Terminator X made an indelible mark on music, and are one of the most important rap groups in history. Their music continues to influence generations of new rappers today due to its timelessness and relevance to political events happening right now.
“Fight The Power” will live on as an important achievement in music video history.