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Musical Montage: Public Enemy “Fight the Power”

Created at the request of director Spike Lee for 1989’s Do the Right Thing, “Fight the Power” has become Public Enemy’s most popular and well-known song.  Chuck D wrote most of the song while the group was on tour in Italy and their production team, The Bomb Squad, crafted the samples through lopping, layering and transfiguring and there’s only two, non-sampled instrumental tracks; saxophonist Branford Marsalis and scratches from DJ Terminator X.  In Do the Right Thing, the song is heard during the opening credits as Rosie Perez dances and shadowboxes and then on Radio Raheem’s (Bill Nunn) boombox around 15 times throughout the movie.  The song and the album were both successful, with the Do the Right Thing soundtrack reaching #68 on the Billboard Hot 200 and “Fight the Power” hitting #1 on the Hot Rap Singles chart and #20 on the Hot R&B singles chart.  The song was first released on the Do the Right Thing soundtrack but was then released on Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet album in a slightly different form.  Spike Lee directed two different versions of the “Fight the Power” music video.  One was more traditional with clips from the movie but the second featured Public Enemy at the “Young People’s March to End Racial Violence” rally in Brooklyn as Chuck D and Flava Flav march and then appear on stage at the rally.  You can check out the full version of the video below.

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