Hip Hop: Fight the Power by Public Enemy

Select a hip-hop artist of your choice, as well as, a song by the artist. This assignment is worth 50 points and should be 4 pages typed in Times New Roman, 12 pt. font, double-spaced, and should include at least 3 in-text citations as evidence to support statements made in the paper. Citations and references should be documented in APA format.


The analysis should include the background of the selected artist, as well as, any pertinent information that may contribute to the understanding of the lyrical content of the song selected (for example, during which time period does the artists thrive, in which styles do popular artists during that time period engage) (10 pts.). The lyrical analysis should include at least 2 literary devices utilized in the lyrics. Students should define the literary devices utilized by the artist in the selected song and present examples (10 pts.). The lyrical content analysis must include the thesis/main idea of the song and evidence in the lyrics that supports the main idea of the song. It is recommended that the song be translated either line by line or verse by verse depending on which is most appropriate for explaining its content (15 pts.). The correct paper heading, as well as, in-text citations and references format (APA), font, spacing, grammar, spelling, and mechanics are worth 15 pts.

Hip Hop: Fight the Power by Public Enemy


Hip hop or rap music is a genre of music that has been developed in the USA. Hip hop was developed by African Americans in the 1970’s (Chang, 2007). Hip hop includes many styles like DJ mixers, electro, rhymes and blues, disco and many more. This music has inspired a generation of new singers who are very famous in the world with this music. Some of them are Afrika Bambaataa, Andre 3000, Big Boi, Dr. Dre, Soul Sonic Force and Big Daddy Kane. Hip hop may have started even before the 70’s but the form that it took in 70’s started to attract people towards it. Especially the DJ mixes that are organized by mixing different tracks in the present ages has become a great form of entertainment.

For this assignment, I have chosen the song, “fight the power” by Public Enemy Band. The reason that I have chosen this song is because it talks about revolution and standing against the unethical powers that are enjoyed by a few in the society and on the political arena. In the following sections, I would provide details of the band and then I would go on and discuss the lyrics of the song in depth.

Background of the artists

Public Enemy is an American hip hop band. This band consists of Chuck D, Flavour Flav, Professor Griff, DJ lord and Khari Wynn. This band was formed in New York in 1982. The main think that differentiated this band from other bands was the political stand that this band used to take with their songs. They have always been critical of the social media and the biasness that the media has shown to marginalized communities. The albums were solved rapidly in the 1980’s and 1990’s and they were claimed to be the most successful hip hop musicians of all times. The band was formed in 1982 but it’s was successful in the general public in 1987. Especially their song “it takes a nation of millions to hold us back” was very successful in 1988 and gave them the desired boost they needed.

Public Enemy band has inspired a generation to speak out for their rights and to come forward and revolutionaries the society so that no one is discriminated. I would say that they were not just a band. They were a movement that had the capacity and still have the capacity to bring positive change in the attitude of the youngsters by making them politically and socially aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Selected song

I have selected “Fight the Power” song by Public Enemy band. It was released in 1989. This song has a message to everyone to get out of their homes and understand that they have been exploited and therefore they need to fight the power.

Background of song

This song was written by the vocalist of the band, Chuck D (Beaumont-Thomas, 2016). The song was made to guide the youth of that time. Especially the black youth most of whom seemed to be lost and didn’t know their purpose. Of course this song was politically motivated, therefore, it was in a time when there was a visible political marginalization of the African Americans existed in the roots of America. Music was one of the peaceful but yet effective way to talk about this political marginalization and social isolation of the black people and especially the black youth.

Content analysis of lyrics

During the start of the song, the band wants to get the attention of the audience and the authorities and informing them that they want something. One of the lyrics verse says, “Music Hitting your heart cause I know you got soul”. This emphasized the fact that the souls of the listeners is not yet deal and the song and its message is definitely going to hit the soul and leave a message there.

The verse “Gotta give us what we need, our freedom of speech is freedom or death” is the focal point of the song and is a thesis in other terms. This lyrics is directed at those who hold the power and want to make everyone silent. The lyrics tell them that we, the oppressed, need the right to be free in speech and expression. I would like to remind here that those were difficult times for black people and they were forcefully stopped from their freedom of speech and expression. Racial tension were high and the writer of the song wanted to express this tension in a rhythmic way (Enemy, 1989).

The verse “Now that you’ve realized the pride’s arrived, we got to pump the stuff to make us tough”, has tried to do things. First it has tried to restore the pride of the listeners. This has been done by encouraging them and trying to make them believe that their pride is intact now as they have hear the message. Secondly, it has tried tom make them tough and ready for the rough road ahead.

“To revolutionize make a change nothing’s strange”, verse of the song is simple in meaning but deep philosophically. It is telling the audience that a change is needed. This change is going to be brought with revolutionary means. But it also ensures the audience not to be afraid of change or revolution as this is nothing strange and has been happening throughout the human history.

“What we need is awareness, we can’t get careless”, asks to be aware and educated about what is happening in the surrounding. It tells the audience not to be careless. If they become careless, they would lose their sight of their destination that the song is so forcefully trying to establish.

“My beloved let’s get down to business’ mental self-defensive fitness”, this set of verses is asking the audience to be mentally tough. This mental toughness is needed because those who hold the power are trying their best to spread anarchy and mentally control the masses via media and other sources so that they either get satisfied that all is well or they get scare and set in their homes doing nothing to change their lives.

Towards the end of the song, the conclusion of the song is stated in these verses, “What we got to say, power to the people no delay”. The purpose of the song is to call for a change that will give the well-deserved power back in the hands of the common people from the power elite who use it only for their vested interests.


In conclusion, I would like to say that hip hop has played a historical role in America. It has influenced the American culture as we see it now. In the beginning it used to be identified with the black community but with time, hip hop has become popular with all other communities in America and in the outside world. Hip hop was created to give a message to the masses. Till now, hip hop is performing that basic function. The song that I discusses earlier i.e. fight the power, also had a wide spread popularity and was acclaimed by many. It also created a wave of calls for freedom of expression and equal rights for all. I am confident to say that Public Enemy was a real public friend and played an important role I spreading awareness about their ideas which were noble and based on the right principles. I know that many would argue in the contrary. It is their right. But my opinion is still in the favor of Public Enemy and I consider them the real Public Friends.



Beaumont-Thomas, B. (2016). How we made Public Enemy’s Fight the Power. the Guardian.       Retrieved 4 May 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2016/mar/07/how-we-made-public-enemy-fight-the-power

Chang, J. (2007). Can’t stop won’t stop: A history of the hip-hop generation. Macmillan.

Enemy, P. (1989). Fight the power. Def Jam Recordings—Let the People Speak.