“Yet our best trained, best educated, best equipped, best prepared troops refuse to fight. As a matter of fact, it’s safe to say that they would rather switch than fight”
Is that right? I have never featured a Public Enemy song on SteveForTheDeaf? Can that be true? It may well be a fact. That don’t stop it from being wrong. This band were the first hip hop show I ever attended. On their legendary tour with Anthrax for the Bring The Noise crossover single. Brixton Academy rained sweat and bodies for both bands sets.
“1989 the number another summer, sound of the funky drummer, music hitting your heart ’cause I know you got soul, listen if you’re missing y’all”
Hip Hop was popular in my high school before I discovered Metal. I knew Fear Of a Black Planet and It Takes A Nation Of Millions… long before I knew State Of Euphoria and Among The Living. You didn’t have to be a fan to know the songs. They were everywhere. Along with Run DMC, De La Soul, KRS One, Eric B & Rakim, NWA. That stuff goes right to the playground the world over. It’s so immediate.
“Brothers and sisters, hey!”
Public Enemy though. I was a fan. A paid up, vinyl owning follower. My brother got me started. He had Yo! Bum Rush The Show and it sounded killer. Raw and wild. This was so exciting next to the shiny suit rappers and frosed MC’s of the radio approved version of Hip Ho. He got It Takes A Nation too. I started buying the singles. Night Of The Living Base Heads, Bring The Noise, Don’t Believe The Hype, Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos, Rebel Without A Pause. All. On. One. Album?
It’s a fact. And it’s right!
Fight the Power is full strength PE (in full effect) from the third album Fear Of A Black Planet. Among such timeless polemics as 911 Is A Joke (please don’t ever listen to the Duran Duran cover version if you can help it. I did just once and I still have the scars in my earlobes from trying to block it out) Welcome To The Terrordome & Can’t Do Nuttin’ For Ya Man was a dense, long, intense, soundscape of a record. Short skits and song sketches rubbing shoulders with guest spots, remix jams and massive hit singles. The whole disc culminates with this track.
The siren scream scratches and loping drum loops roll the track along city streets like a Panzer division. Chuck D loaded in the barrel ready to boom out his artillery.
“Got to give us what we want, gotta give us what we need, our freedom of speech is freedom or death, we got to fight the powers that be, lemme hear you say, fight the power”
And so it goes. Into the memory banks. Into rock and roll and hip hop history. in to the popular consciousness. A chant. A chorus that sits behind the weight of 30 plus years. It begins with 1988… The number, another summer, Sound of the funky drummer. It gets an overhaul, a remix and some shiny new MC’s in 2020 during all… this.
Just as potent. Just as urgent. A great tune. Always good to hear it again. Sad to say it still sounds relevant.