Friday, January 9, 2009

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: Fight the Power
Artist: Public Enemy
Album: Do The Right Thing OST (1989) / Fear of a Black Planet (1990)

Welcome to the most influential hip hop track of all-time.

Regardless of your feelings about Public Enemy, this track is powerful in so many ways. Yes, it's hard to look at it now and see Flavor Flav bouncing around, knowing he was a crackhead and later the star of too many Reality TV programs, but the truth is, this song was and still is a lightning rod and one of the best examples of the power of quality hip hop that has ever been put out.

The Bomb Squad created a monster when they came up with this track; the catchy horns, the open spots for Terminator X to scratch on and the perfectly understated by noticeable beat and melody Chuck D so eloquently flows over.

Can I get a moment for Chuck D please?

Where have emcees like this gone?

Could you ever conceive Chuck rapping over some slinky beat on a club-banger?

Of course you couldn't because the man is just not about that in the least. He's about saying what he feels regardless of how it will bristle some that hear it. This track is full of gems of that nature, including the very heavily scrutinized

Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant shit to me
You see, straight-up racist that sucker was simple and plain
Motherfuck him and John Wayne

The interesting thing about the uproar over that lyric is what actually comes next:

Cause I'm Black and I'm proud
I'm ready and hyped plus I'm amped
Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps
Sample a look back you look and find
Nothing but rednecks for 400 years if you check

Funny how people get upset when you call out Elvis and John Wayne on the basis of them never being your hero and never seeing yourself or your people represented in a similar fashion...

I fell in love with the song as soon as I heard it as part of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, a movie you should all go out and enjoy if you haven't seen it yet.

Challenging authority isn't a bad thing.

Demanding equality, having pride in yourself and standing up for what you believe in, at any cost, aren't bad things either.

This song was one of the first things to show me and teach me that and it's been a lesson that has served me well over the years.

It's also a shining example of how powerful and poignant hip hop can truly be... so let's stop talking about our rims and our guns and our parties and our bitches and get back to making monsters like this...

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