Rap Critic: Fight the Power by Public Enemy

It’s Black History Month, so join me in raising a fist in the air for this next review!

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30 comments

  1. Okay now I just imagine $700 billion bailout money all spent on a mountain of cocaine

    • To be fair, except when management outright defrauds the stock holders, most of the money that goes to these companies does not actually end up in the pocket of the CEO. Remember, in a publicly traded corporation, the CEO is not the owner. They are just the head manager. The real problem with the bailout is that, according to most economists who spoke up on the issue, the U.S. government was perfectly capable of stabilizing the financial system without bailing any of these companies out. In other words, our leaders rewarded irresponsibility and stupidity when they were perfectly capable of maintaining the flow of credit throughout the country and making sure that the ordinary depositors kept their money without doing so.

  2. I have a theory about why this track didn’t get as much play back then: it wasn’t a title track on a PE album. PE had just released Nation of Millions, and everybody I knew at the time was still rocking that album. When Do the Right Thing came out, only a few of my friends actually bought the soundtrack to it.

    Then again, I was living overseas at the time, so that may not have been the case stateside.

  3. Yay, you’re back! I missed you so much Rap Critic! (Hour long vlog-things don’t count in my book, I want the review meat!)

  4. I love this song.

    Also, your intro was great.

  5. Awe, a review of this song and no mention of the amazing Barenaked Ladies cover? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHsCbIWE5Cs

  6. Really hope The Message by Grandmaster Flash is one of the songs you do during Black history Month.

  7. Terminator X was amazing! I wasn’t into hiphop when I was young and only heard the mostly crap radio and MTV would play. When I heard Terminator X’s samples and the political lyrics of PE it blew my mind. Fuck that sampling the hook and singing party lyrics nonsense. Sure professor Griff has said some bigoted things and Flavor Flav is a reality star idiot, but PE will always have a place in my heart. They took a white kid from small town Wisconsin that was into the harsh sound and politics of punk and turned me onto hiphop with a message.

  8. “White Man was the King of Jazz”

    You can’t make that shit up! XD

  9. Oh Boy, Public Enemy… they were loud, they were aggressive and they were straight in your face… but (as importent as that was for “Black Music”, cause who has ever done that before?) is all they were to me… Interpreting Chuck Ds pretty simple Lyrics to start a debate weather to be bailed out CEOs should get drug tested is kind of stretching it in my mind… not just because the Lyrics from fight the Power are old… it’s not like Chuck D has developed his lyrical Style a lot since 1990, he still (in 2012) still claims that he “stands for revolution” and complains, that the Radio wont “play it”… honestly, the lyrics from his 2012 Song “Get up Stand up” could be straight from 1990… (allthough it has the great Brother Ali on it…)
    If Chuck D really would want to transport complex messages through his music, dont you think he would have evolved his lyrics in that direction? Which is why the last like 10 PE LPs were completly irrelevant… (which doesnt mean that the first 3 were some of the most importent LPs ever… but the times they are a changing and PE did not…

  10. Moviemantweeter1999

    flavor flav was a rap star before he was a bad reality star, who knew. I liked how in the review you bring up issues black people face thank you for doing that(since this site is filled with white commentors). I also put my fist up in the air so this video worked for me. I like the new setting and you should sit in that chair more.

  11. “Nobody has pictures of the Archies on their dormroom wall.”
    The who?

    Possible Response 1: See, proves my point.

    Possible Response 2: No, no, The Who was actually a good band.

    Or maybe not. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard The Who and I don’t follow how popular music is, so I don’t know. Insert your own opinion on that.

    • The Archies was basically Archie the fictional comic book character’s band. They somehow had an actual hit song in “Sugar Sugar” I think because they tried to pawn it off on a real band and they wouldn’t take it.

  12. “What’s popular is not always what’ll get remembered.” You’re telling me; my dad is a big jazz aficionado who made me listen to a ton of jazz records when I was in high school, and I’d never heard of that Whiteman dude before Linkara brought him up. If you had told me back then that there was a white guy who made jazz popular with white audiences the same way Elvis did with rock and roll, I’d have assumed you were talking about Gershwin (and it’s debatable whether his music even counts as jazz).

    I should clarify that my dad isn’t the hipster kind of jazz fan, either; I’m pretty sure he grew up with it because his own parents were super conservative WASPs who wouldn’t let him listen to rock and roll but were just fine with exposing him to the music of their youth. I figure if anyone would still remember this Whiteman person, it would be him.

    • I’m just going to say this: I really don’t see why you need to justify your dad liking Jazz. Jazz is awesome.

    • Hey, just remember that one of the big artists involved with making black music popular was Pat Boone.

      Never heard of Pat Boone? Well, he had 38 songs make it into the Top 40 in the 1950’s. Here, why don’t you listen to one of his classic hits, “Tutti Frutti:”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAwBa8Pqi6Y

    • To be fair, a lot of white Jazz musicians became some of the staunchest and earliest white civil rights allies. I’m not too familiar with Whiteman, although Duke and Louis Armstrong evidently thought rather highly of him. Aside from having an unfortunate name he at least doesn’t seem to have been talentless. I’m more familiar with Benny Goodman and Dave Brubeck, who were class acts on stage and off.

      Excellent review! I really liked the firm political edge, it wouldn’t have done the song any justice to pussyfoot around.

  13. I thought that Black History month is in October?

    Well, at least over here in the UK it is.

    • In the US, it’s February. February is the month where we like to stuff all the secular-as-opposed-to-religious holidays, like Presidents Day, Valentines Day, etc. Although, Columbus Day is in October, so what do I know?

      And yes, I know Valentines Day came from a religious holiday, but it was never broadly practiced anywhere in the world until it was co-opted by the greeting card companies, so I count it as a secular holiday.

      • Thanksgiving and July 4 are also not in February.

        And yes, despite the religious connotations associated with Thanksgiving, I still contend that it is a secular holiday; show me a single British, German, or Latin lectionary that incorporates the US Thanksgiving into the liturgy, and I’ll concede.

  14. Best video RC has ever done, hands down

  15. For once, I don’t have a comment to make. That’s rare.

  16. I would like to elaborate on one of the points you make, RC. The problem is that the term “racist” has such broad connotations these days that it almost becomes meaningless. I’ve always gravitated to the idea that the term should apply primarily to ideological biases based on race, for example, the guy who point blank says that one race or another is inherently genetically inferior. The trouble is that, as demonstrated by Chuck’s lyrics about Elvis, the term has become so broadly applied that even those who hold to no ideological biases are called racists for no other reason than their own race and social position. I do think a good argument can be made that the music business itself is racist, but this doesn’t mean that anyone who benefits within that system is. The music business is geared to make money, and to that end, it will always be about public image and pushing what they think will sell more to the general public.

    My point is this: it’s high time we reined the use of the term “racist” in, and start applying it mainly to ideological racial biases rather than to every single slight difference in culture or politics.

  17. 1989 was an interesting year. End of communism in Europe, this movie and song were released, and of course, I was born.

    I watched Do the Right Thing for a film studies class. Unfortunately it was a VHS with described audio that couldn’t be turned off.

    As for the song, I really like the beat and I like that it has a message, instead of the usual ‘get money, fuck bitches’ rap songs we get nowadays. While I’m not sure about the comments on Elvis and John Wayne, I can see where they come from.

  18. Great point about no one ever asking whether bankers are going to use bailout money for drugs (which they definitely do). Yeah, that’s really something about Whiteman. He was just a producer too. Perhaps there is a super nerdy person out there with a picture of The Archies on their dorm room wall.

  19. A great start to this series! Fight The Power is definitely one of my favorite songs of all time. I hope you consider covering “Straight Outta Compton” or “Express Yourself” by NWA! I’d actually like to know you’re opinion on the upcoming Straight Outta Compton movie about NWA.

  20. FilmBrainsGoldfish

    Frank Miller Batman hates jazz AND rock & roll!
    I wonder what he thinks of rap.

  21. I actually had to watch “Fight the Power” for a class on Postmodern Literature, compared to an Odd Future video (I forget which one). That is how good this song is. It is worthy of study in a college.
    Also, just a minor note about the sampling: It is awesome, but there’s artists out there that create songs entirely from samples. DJ Shadow’s “Endtroducing…” album, RJD2’s work, and “Frontier Psychiatrist” by The Avalanches stand out in particular.
    But yeah, great song, great video.

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