At Sunday night’s BET Awards, Public Enemy opened the ceremony with an updated rendition of “Fight The Power”. This new version featured additional contributions from an array of guests, including Nas, YG, Black Thought, Rapsody, and Jahi.
The pioneering hip-hop group featured Chuck D as well as Flavor Flav performing the 1989 track made for Spike Lee‘s Do The Right Thing. Flav’s presence was notable as he was publicly ousted from the group by D back in March in response Flav’s backlash when Public Enemy was booked to perform at a Bernie Sanders campaign rally.
The clip opened with an intimate close up on 12-year-old Keedron Bryant, whose song “I’m A Young Black Man” recently went viral. From there, the iconic beat to “Fight The Power” dropped in, spun by DJ Lord. Chuck D opened the song by changing the first line to “2020 the number another summer” and soon ceded the mic to Nas, who offered a new verse to the classic hip-hop anthem.
Everyone from Nas to Black Thought to YG to all of the other guests offered their own input on the recent outrage over erupting race relations in the United States, echoing much of the same sentiment that Public Enemy expressed over 30 years ago. With montages of protests across the country, the artists touched on the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the ever-expanding list of Black people killed by police officers in the United States. Finally, to close out the video, Chuck D returned to drop his final verse from the original 1989 version to give the song a sense of cyclical relevancy. Chuck D said of the song,
Our collective voices keep getting louder. The rest of the planet is on our side. But it’s not enough to talk about change. You have to show up and demand change. Folks gotta vote like their lives depend on it, ‘cause it does.
Watch Public Enemy’s guest-filled rendition of “Fight The Power” from the BET Awards.
Public Enemy — “Fight The Power” — BET Awards