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Morning Song – Fight The Power

December 18, 2015

(The last in a series of songs that Rolling Stone left out of its 2013 “reader’s poll” of the “10 best protest songs of all time”.)

One of the things that makes Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power” a great protest song (Rolling Stone notwithstanding) is the way it encapsulates so much of the Black musical/protest tradition that preceded it.  It’s not just the conscious nod to their funkmaster forefathers.  (Chuck D. once said, “I wanted to have sorta like the same theme as the original ‘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 time.”)

It’s also The Bomb Squad’s ingenious, layered sampling and production techniques, which allowed Public Enemy to interpolate everyone from James Brown to Afrika Bambaataa to Bob Marley to Kurtis Blow to Rick James into the “wall of noise” over which Chuck D spit his rhymes.

As the rhythm designed to bounce
What counts is that the rhymes
Designed to fill your mind;
Now that you’ve realized the pride’s arrived
We got to pump the stuff to make us tough
From the heart;
It’s a start, a work of art,
To revolutionize, make a change, nothing’s strange….

You gotta go for what you know,
Make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be;
Lemme hear you say
Fight the Power.

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From → Music

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