It’s been 25 years since Spike Lee released his classic film, Do The Right Thing, a film that tackles race issues in Brooklyn, New York. Just as iconic as the flick is Public Enemy’s song, “Fight The Power,” which was made specifically for the movie and heard throughout from the opening credits to the closing credits. The 25th anniversary of the movie has brought much fanfare, including a block party in Brooklyn this past weekend and countless online pieces written about the impact of the film. Rolling Stone got in on the action by getting Spike, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, the Bomb Squad’s Hank Shocklee and Branford Marsalis together to give an oral history on the making of the track.
The piece dives into the following:
The thought process behind the song: “All I remember was Spike was saying, ‘I’m looking for an anthem,’ said Chuck D”
The initial disagreement over how the track should sound: “Spike’s original idea was to have Public Enemy do a hip-hop version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is kind of like a Negro anthem or spiritual,” explained Shocklee. “But I was like, ‘No.’ I opened the window and asked him to stick your head outside. “Man, what sounds do you hear? You’re not going to hear ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ in every car that drives by.” We needed to make something that’s going to resonate on the street level.”
The Lyrics: “But as far as “muthafuck him and John Wayne”… yeah, fuck John Wayne to this minute [laughs],” said Chuck D. “John Wayne is “Mr. Kill All the Indians and Everybody Else Who’s Not Full-Blooded American.” The lyric was assassinating their iconic status so everybody doesn’t feel that way.”
Do The Right Thing as an outlet for PE: ”When I heard Spike Lee put it 20 times in the movie, I was like, pssh,” explained Chuck. ”We realized early that film was probably going to be our outlet to deliver shit. We couldn’t rely on radio.”
And so much more. Head over to Rolling Stone to give the article a full read.