Yet our best trained, best educated, best equipped
Best prepared troops refuse to fight
As a matter of fact, it's safe to say
That they would rather switch than fight

1989 the number, another summer (get down)
Sound of the funky drummer
Music hitting your heart 'cause I know you got soul
(Brothers and sisters, hey)
Listen if you're missing y'all
Swinging while I'm singing (hey)
Giving whatcha getting
Knowing what I know in
While the Black bands sweatin'
And the rhythm rhyme rollin'
Got to give us what we want (uh)
Gotta give us what we need (hey)
Our freedom of speech is freedom of death
We got to fight the powers that be

(Lemme hear you say)
Fight the power (lemme hear you say)
Fight the power (lemme hear you say)
Fight the power (lemme hear you)
Fight the power (lemme hear you say)
Fight the power (lemme hear you)
Fight the power (lemme hear you say)
Fight the power (lemme hear you)
We've got to fight the powers that be

As the rhythm's designed to bounce
What counts is that the rhymes
Designed to fill your mind
Now that you've realized the pride's arrived
We got to pump the stuff to make ya tough
From the heart
It's a start, a work of art
To revolutionize make a change nothing's strange
People, people we are the same
No, we're not the same
'Cause we don't know the game
What we need is awareness, we can't get careless
You say what is this?
My beloved let's get down to business
Mental self defensive fitness
Bum-rush the show
You gotta go for what you know
To make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be

(Lemme hear you say)
Fight the power (lemme hear you)
Fight the power (lemme hear you say)
Fight the power (lemme hear you)
Fight the power (lemme hear you say)
Fight the power (lemme hear you)
Fight the power (lemme hear you say)
Fight the power (lemme hear you)
We've got to fight the powers that be

(Lemme hear you say)
Fight the power (lemme hear you)
(Lemme hear you say)
Fight the power (lemme hear you)
Fight the power (lemme hear you say)
Fight the power (lemme hear you)
Fight the power (lemme hear you say)
Fight the power (lemme hear you)
We've got to fight the powers that be

Elvis was a hero to most but he
Elvis was a hero to most (yeah)
Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant sh-- to me you see
Straight out racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Motherf--- him and John Wayne
'Cause I'm Black and I'm proud
I'm ready, I'm hyped plus I'm amped
Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps
Sample a look, bet 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 said "You can slap me right here"
(Get it) let's get this party started right
Right on, c'mon
What we got to say (yeah)
Power to the people, no delay
Make everybody see
In order to fight the powers that be

Fight the power (yes, yes, yes, yes y'all)
Fight the power (yes, yes, yes, yes y'all)
Fight the power (yes, yes, yes, yes y'all)
Fight the power (yes, yes)
We've got to fight the powers that be

What have we got to say? (Yeah)
Fight the power (yeah, yeah, yeah)
What have we got to say? (Yeah)
Fight the power (come on)
What have we got to say? (Yeah)
Fight the power (yeah, yeah, yeah)
What have we got to say? (Yeah)
Fight the power (come on)

Yo, check this out man
Ok, talk to me about the future of Public Enemy
The future of Public Enemy gotta


Lyrics submitted by redly40

Fight the Power Lyrics as written by Keith M Boxley James Henry Boxley Iii

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, REACH MUSIC PUBLISHING, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Fight the Power song meanings
Add Your Thoughts

33 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +3
    General Comment

    Public Enemy were one of the best Rap acts of all time. Fight The Power is one of the best rap songs ever in my opinion. But like so many black people they were misinformed about Elvis. "The only thing black people can do for me is shine my shoes and buy my music" - Elvis Presley.

    That quote was fabricated by a writer who didn't like Elvis. Keep in mind that rock 'n roll was still new in the 50s and a lot of the then older generation didn't like it. I can't believe some people still believe that old wives tale...including Chuck D. If Elvis was such a racist why did he give to black charities?? If he was such a racist why did he always acknowledge black R&B artists like Wynonie Harris and Fats Dominoe? If he was such a racist why did he copy so many old blues songs? "That's Alright Mama"..."Shake Rattle And Roll" and others were written by black artists. I was like a lot of other African Americans in this country at one time believing that myth, but not seeing any proof. I've heard other blacks say things like...oh Elvis said that on a talk show...or he said it in a magazine. Well show me the clip...surely it must exist if he actually said it. Show me the magazine article....it must exist if he said it...RIGHT??? But I've never seen it and I don't think I ever will because I don't think he ever said it. Some rumors don't die, they just become urban myths and keep on going. As for me personally, I think Elvis was cool. He had a distinct voice and knew how to rock and roll unlike anyone else. Was he the King of Rock and Roll? Not in my eyes...that title should go to Chuck Berry if anyone. But Elvis was certainly a part of the Rock and Roll Royal family.

    James Brown said of Elvis - "...he taught white America to get down."

    MrLongroveon March 04, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    At the end of the day Chuck D is an expert in soundbites and metaphors. The soundbite is attention grabbing and makes the listener sit up and take notice (early Manic Street Preachers lyrics also featured this a lot). Once you're attention has been grabed it's then up to you to figure out what he means and what he's saying.

    If the lyrics were doing nothing more than attacking two people (Elvis and John Wayne) they'd be pretty weak. When you think of Elvis, John Wayne, even Johnny Cash, I could go on, you're seeing symbols, what tv, magazines, advertisments, corporations, film, MTV have fed to you, what you've been fed by these systems of power. All this stuff is what Chuck D is all about, (eg: he warned once about 'weapons of mass distraction'. MTV, mindless video games all occupy your time and mind and stop you from thinking)

    'Mother fuck him and John Wayne' is completely damning these systems of power, its also a statement of intent of wiping the cultural state clean, not only for black people, but everyone who realises that the continuation and nostalgia for these icons is utter nonsense. (It suits white authority to keep propogating such symbols: As long as those symbols stand strong then there is no space for others. Eg: Martin Luther King, with Arizona refusing to grant a national holiday for him. You can argue all you want, but White America is not going to give up its stronghold willingly). Starting afresh like this is what punk and post punk was trying to do in the late seventies and early eighties. (Terminator X's name holds a similar meaning, the eradication of all that has come before).

    Its all imagery and metaphor at the end of the day. Kurt Cobain had a sticker on his guitar that said 'Vandalism: as beautiful as a rock in a cops face'. Now you can be all sensitive and tiptoe around the subject "oh what if the cop has a family", "but that would hurt" "Elvis was really talented and sensitvie and wrote lovely songs". But thats not what making a statement is all about, statements have different levels. If someone you knew was a cop and got hit in the face by a rock, sure you'd be concerned; but as an image, a statement of dissention in the face of authority, its perfect.

    nalced777on September 11, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    This is pretty much the best rap song in history...

    kmk_natashaon December 14, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Yeah, Rosie Perez poppin' and lockin' to the PE is a helluva way to start a movie.

    This song made me respect John Wayne and Elvis Presley less. I think the U.S. postal service started honoring more people of various races because of this song, too.

    Black Dahliaon November 03, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    MrLongrove - my mistake, you're right: snopes.com/music/artists/presley1.asp

    Amazing myths like that stick around that long...

    ...but i never said Elvis wasn't cool. He was.

    Chinupon March 10, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Chuck is surely referring to the fact that elvis got rich by playing music that traditionally had been pioneered by black people. White america loved elvis because they got great music without as they saw it, 'unsavoury black people'.

    Locatelli01on June 05, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Looks like you and Mr. Foxman got it wrong JimDurb.

    "Swindlers Lust" contains lines such as "Mo dollars, mo cents for the Big Six/ Another million led to bled claiming their innocence." Chuck D has said the "Big Six" refers to the six major music corporations — Sony, Time Warner, EMI, BMG, Universal and PolyGram (now known as the Big Five after last year's merger of Universal and PolyGram) — and Atomic Pop Vice President Liz Morentin explained that the "million" lyric was a nod to the Million Man March of 1995.

    Probably need to check your facts before you start to pontificate about specters and apparitions of divisiveness and bigotry. P.E. probably should have done this as well.

    mjsmith1977on July 10, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    JimDurb, you are one dumb bastard! Let me get this straight, your argument goes like this: "Mr. Foxman issued a statement (based on his opinion) that Public Enemy are racists, so therefore, they are racists."

    What somebody "said" makes it true, so there you go...I said it, you're a dumb bastard.

    FoggyNotionson July 21, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I have to agree attacking Elvis and John Wayne here are strange choices. By 1989 both these guys had been dead for 10-12 years (and past super-star relevance even at the ends of their lives) and young people weren't idolizing them or anything. Even if you could criticize them for some reason, they weren't really significant in the struggle that you're talking about. They probably could have name checked some more relevant targets that actually were part of the problem.

    DanVitaleRockson February 25, 2023   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    fuck ya

    doubleohspoolon April 14, 2003   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
The Night We Met
Lord Huron
This is a hauntingly beautiful song about introspection, specifically about looking back at a relationship that started bad and ended so poorly, that the narrator wants to go back to the very beginning and tell himself to not even travel down that road. I believe that the relationship started poorly because of the lines: "Take me back to the night we met:When the night was full of terrors: And your eyes were filled with tears: When you had not touched me yet" So, the first night was not a great start, but the narrator pursued the relationship and eventually both overcame the rough start to fall in love with each other: "I had all and then most of you" Like many relationships that turn sour, it was not a quick decline, but a gradual one where the narrator and their partner fall out of love and gradually grow apart "Some and now none of you" Losing someone who was once everything in your world, who you could confide in, tell your secrets to, share all the most intimate parts of your life, to being strangers with that person is probably one of the most painful experiences a person can go through. So Painful, the narrator wants to go back in time and tell himself to not even pursue the relationship. This was the perfect song for "13 Reasons Why"
Album art
Cajun Girl
Little Feat
Overall about difficult moments of disappointment and vulnerability. Having hope and longing, while remaining optimistic for the future. Encourages the belief that with each new morning there is a chance for things to improve. The chorus offers a glimmer of optimism and a chance at a resolution and redemption in the future. Captures the rollercoaster of emotions of feeling lost while loving someone who is not there for you, feeling let down and abandoned while waiting for a lover. Lost with no direction, "Now I'm up in the air with the rain in my hair, Nowhere to go, I can go anywhere" The bridge shows signs of longing and a plea for companionship. The Lyrics express a desire for authentic connection and the importance of Loving someone just as they are. "Just in passing, I'm not asking. That you be anyone but you”
Album art
I Can't Go To Sleep
Wu-Tang Clan
This song is written as the perspective of the boys in the street, as a whole, and what path they are going to choose as they get older and grow into men. (This is why the music video takes place in an orphanage.) The seen, and unseen collective suffering is imbedded in the boys’ mind, consciously or subconsciously, and is haunting them. Which path will the boys choose? Issac Hayes is the voice of reason, maybe God, the angel on his shoulder, or the voice of his forefathers from beyond the grave who can see the big picture and are pleading with the boys not to continue the violence and pattern of killing their brothers, but to rise above. The most beautiful song and has so many levels. Racism towards African Americans in America would not exist if everyone sat down and listened to this song and understood the history behind the words. The power, fear, pleading in RZA and Ghostface voices are genuine and powerful. Issac Hayes’ strong voice makes the perfect strong father figure, who is possibly from beyond the grave.
Album art
Blue
Ed Sheeran
“Blue” is a song about a love that is persisting in the discomfort of the person experiencing the emotion. Ed Sheeran reflects on love lost, and although he wishes his former partner find happiness, he cannot but admit his feelings are still very much there. He expresses the realization that he might never find another on this stringed instrumental by Aaron Dessner.
Album art
Head > Heels
Ed Sheeran
“Head > Heels” is a track that aims to capture what it feels like to experience romance that exceeds expectations. Ed Sheeran dedicates his album outro to a lover who has blessed him with a unique experience that he seeks to describe through the song’s nuanced lyrics.