WATCH: Public Enemy Revamps “Fight The Power” For Our Modern Age

Chuck D, Flavor Flav and Professor Griff are joined by Rapsody, Nas, YG, Black Thought and Questlove and open up the 2020 BET Music Awards with an all-hands-on-deck update of their 1989 protest anthem

Screenshot from Public Enemy’s performance of “Fight The Power” at the 2020 BET Awards

The voice of the young man who opens up this stirring remake of the definitive Public Enemy anthem is the gifted young actor Jahi DiAllo Winston.

“God protect me,” he sings, kicking off the wildly reconfigured BET Music Awards for the age of COVID-19. “I just wanna live.”

It’s not meant to be a showcase. This kid is singing from a place of pure despair.

No 16-year-old boy should have to sing with that much pain at such a young age. But there isn’t a more resonant way to kickstart this absolutely powerful remake of Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power,” unquestionably the most incendiary and neccessary anthem in a career teeming with songs speaking truth to male white corporate oppression.

Joining PE on this even sharper 2020 rendition is a super cipher of MCs bringing together Gen X, Millennials and Zoomers–three generations who have fought the good fight for equal rights in the last 30 years. So in addition to Chuck, Flav and a battle ready Professor Griff, heat is thrown by guests Nas, Black Thought, Rapsody and YG in this urgent remake that set off perhaps the most important BET Awards show in the channel’s 40 year history.

Lyrics, transcribed by the tireless souls at Genius, can be found below along with the full video of the performance. 



Intro: Chuck D]

This is revolution shit

Uh, yeah, c’mon and get down

Uh, yeah, c’mon and get down

Uh, yeah, hey

The year is 2020, the number

A little somethin’ to get down

Sound of the funky drummer

Music hitting’ the heart ’cause I know you got soul

Brothers and sisters


[Verse 1: Nas]

The Information Age

Got ’em seein’ what’s really wrong with these racist days

I honor the strong and pity the weak

Your thoughts run your life, be careful what you think

Haiti beat France, a century, seventeen

Salute Toussaint and Dessalines

And I do love France, know what I mean?

It’s the system I’m talkin’, nobody’s agreein’

They say, “Suicide,” when dead bodies are swingin’

Cowards are huntin’ black men, that’s what I’m seein’

How many toasters have been burnt down?

And once Central Park was a thrivin’ black town

Yo, Chuck, I’m fightin’ the power right now

Thank you, Flav and P-E, puttin’ it down

Puttin’ your life on the line so I could rap now

The next generation still singin’, “Fight the Power”

[Chorus: Chuck D with Flava Flav]

Fight the power (Fight the power)

Fight the power (Fight the power)

Fight the power (Fight the power)

Fight the power, we got to fight the powers that be


[Verse 2: Rapsody]

Police think they reign, [?] over the law (Yeah)

When they give us short sticks but we really need a long

To the boys in the hood, got the bullets and batons

The boys in the hood, triple Ks on they arm

Four fingers on my arm screamin’, “Fight”

Change the policy, before I buy back our property

You love Black Panther but not Fred Hampton

Word to the Howards and the Aggies and the Hamptons

They book us, won’t book us, I’m Booker

  1. Washington, George killed, four-twenty

Think about it (Think), that’s two thousand pennies

The value of black life the cost of goin’ to Wendy’s

Four a four-quarter burger, ended in murder

Fight for Breonna and the pain of her mother, gotta


[Chorus: Chuck D with Flava Flav]

Fight the power (Fight the power)

Fight the power (Fight the power)

Fight the power (Fight the power)

Fight the power, we got to fight the powers that be


[Verse 3: Black Thought]

Yeah, generations just how long we been at war

The revolution on our platform

You break a man’s mind in his back

Yo, solidarity is what I’m wearin’ all black for

For comrades who done fought without me

It’s not to try and change y’all thoughts about me

Or to read the [?] reports about me

Yeah, white people, you should take a course about me

‘Cause, is it the law and order for a four-finger ring?

The sciences and the arts, the songs we can sing

I really wanna know why y’all so scared

Prolly ’cause the promised land, we almost there

But look, I think of images that fuel my youth

Been influenced by Craig Hodges and [?]

Examples life Olympic, Black Power salutes

The Panther troops, I saw as I pursue my truth

If racism is the cancer, black force is the answer

Gotta get up off the back porch, emancipate your minds

Get your bodies back from rest (C’mon)

And all hands up for the answer


[Chorus: Chuck D with Flava Flav]

Fight the power (Fight the power)

Fight the power, we got to fight the powers that be

Yo, yo, check this out, man

Bring that beat back, man (Bring that beat back)

In two, three, four, hit it


[Verse 4: Peofessor Griff]

People, people, stronger than this evil

Smashin’ your power structure, melanin royal, regal

System designed to kill and unprotect

Worldwide, hit the streets just to get some respect

Our fight and our rights for freedom will never wane

But justice Breonna Taylor, salute Chuck and Flava

Feel the same anger since Radio Rahim died

Black power to the people, push forward, pride


[Verse 5: YG]

Fight power like it’s the opp, though

Born to fight, I made it off the block though

Thought he had a gun and he was black, that’s the convo

The police killed George havin’ a convo (George)

They killed Malcolm X, they killed Doctor King (Doctor King)

They gave us guns and dope, they wanna stop a king

They tryna erase our history, stop and think

History class ain’t tell us ’bout Juneteeth

Cops don’t give a damn about a negro

Bullet to the killer, negro, he’s a [?]

Fuck livin’ life on welfare, the last one who cared was Obamacare

Round twelve, nose kinda bloody, gotta keep fightin’

Trump flew to North Korea, they respect violence

If you ain’t tryna have your city on fire

Put some respect on our name, we come from gold and diamonds


[Chorus: Chuck D with Flava Flav]

Fight the power (Fight the power)

Fight the power

Yo, yo, check this out, man


[Verse 6: Chuck D]

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

‘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 four hundred years if you check

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was a number one jam

Damn if I say it you can slap me right here

(Get it) Let’s get this party started right

Right on, c’mon

What we got to say

Power to the people no delay

Make everybody see

In order to fight the powers that be!


VIDEO: Public Enemy and Friends perform “Fight The Power” at the 2020 BET Awards

Ron Hart
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Ron Hart

Ron Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Rock and Roll Globe. Reach him on Twitter @MisterTribune.

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