Today in Hip-Hop: ‘Do the Right Thing’ Is Released in Theaters
On this day, June 30, in hip-hop history...
1989: "It's the hottest day of the summer. You can do nothing, you can do something or you can do the right thing."
Spike Lee's pivotal film, Do the Right Thing was released in theaters on June 30, 1989. Starring Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson and Samuel L. Jackson as well as newcomers Rosie Perez and Martin Lawrence, the satirical drama tells the story of a Bed-Stuy Brooklyn neighborhood's racial tension coming to a head because of a tragedy on the hottest day of summer. The film was written, directed and produced by Spike himself, with Spike also playing the role of Mookie. This was only Spike's fourth film in his career at that point.
In addition to being a Black cinema classic, he film's soundtrack was filled some of the most important hip-hop tracks at the time. Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" became the anthem for not only the film, but for the summer of 1989. Reggae acts like Steel Pulse and funk band E.U. added even more flavor to the soundtrack, giving the audience a sense of the cultural clash going on in the film. The flick showed off Brooklyn's vibrant hip-hop culture through fashion, music and slang.
Ten years after its debut, Do the Right Thing was selected for preservation in the country's National Film Registry for its "cultural significance." To celebrate the film's 25th anniversary, Spike held a good old block party in the heart of Bed-Stuy Brooklyn in 2014.
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