Public Enemy's 'Fear Of A Black Planet' Track-By-Track
Fear of a Black Planet cover - Public Enemy album

The police system, the government, the law is an anti-ni**er machine. We as a people have to be able to control our own education, economics and enforcement. As long as the police have to come in our neighborhoods to protect and serve, we have to know that when they come to protect and serve they're coming to protect and serve the property owners. black people in America own very little property, so they come into our neighborhoods with authority over black people. They treat us like ni**ers. Actually the cops are at the bottom rung of the scale. They carry out the orders from above.

We had been big fans of Kane, and we also had been tour buddies a couple of times. Kane was saying for years, "when are we going to do that record.' Once again I jumped the gun and was doing this article and I said, "Me and Big Daddy Kane are going to get together and do this record called "Burn Hollywood Burn.' I hadn't written the jam, I didn't have a track, I just went off the top of my head.

Finally when it came time to do it I had my topic ready, which was basically talking about the messed up side of the film industry, which I had studied from all of the pressure that Spike Lee had gotten, and I was pretty much making a knock on Hollywood, because black people have been made to look like fools and buffoons through that form of mass media through the early parts of the 1900's, and how it's controlled by everybody else but us. That was my angle on it.

I invited Kane down and he came to the studio and wrote his part in like 20 minutes. Ice Cube happened to be in the studio sitting on the couch. So he asked, "Yo, can I be down?' Kane and I looked at him like, "Come on, f- it.'

Eric Sadler had this uptempo track, it almost sounded like Miami based music, and we decided to put something different together. I still like the cut because it had a scratch through it. The thing I envisioned when we made that song was South Africa, and if I ever did a video for that song I was going to make it in South Africa with South African people jumping up and down saying, "Power to the people." We never shot a video on it, but that vibe was fast, strong and more diverse.

"Who Stole the Soul?" is one of our most meaningful performance records. We talk about reparations. Whoever stole the soul stole us from our proper place and has to pay up. Whoever stole the soul has to pay the price. The song continues to be a question and mystery, with a whole lot of people ducking the issue of historical involvement. Now the reparation issues of other people are being handled by Germany and some
other countries, and the USA still is shady regarding this big payback.

We had been to a lot of places on the planet and we had seen similar stories of oppression and similar stories of the rich trying to beat down the poor. Our philosophy is that black people suffer from white supremacy because we're easily identifiable, therefore we've been used as the easiest pawns in the game. But there's also other pawns in the game. In places where they don't have black people, they find a way to make people the scapegoat based on their religious or cultural differences, so that the rich can get richer and the poor can get poorer. No matter if it's capitalism or communism. Capitalism is where you have the rich, and then you have the poor who have an opportunity to get rich, but it's going to be a long, hard road. Very few of the poor will get rich. So they're both govermnental tricks, big corporate governmental tricks. And governments, to me, have proven to be a cancer of civilization. They use them to trick the majority of the people, so we say fight the power.

A lot of people were saying that we were misogynist and talked about women in a derogatory way. This record kind of cleared all that bullsh*t up. "Revolutionary Generation" was saying the next generation will be that of change where we uphold and respect our women and go forward with her. It was a different uptempo dance/housey type of track. I had been on record as saying, "F- house, I hate house.' So my thing was to make that housey type of track with even more of a B-Boy feel to it. It's a record that seems improbable
today in hip-hop.

I wrote "War At 331/3' on a Greyhound bus trip from Erie, Pennsylvania to Cleveland, Ohio. Then I caught the Greyhound bus from Cleveland to Dayton. My whole thing was to show my skills on how fast I could rap and how hectic I could get on a record. "War At 331/3" questioned the thrust of religion upon us without getting to the most basic fact of the matter - respecting your fellow man and respecting the planet. I was calling fake
preachers 'evangelical hustlers'. God didn't hand out religion like a card game. There's still one religion on this planet, but man has taken religion and used it for his own tool.

"Fight the Power" was a record that was done by the Isley Brothers back in 1970-'71 and it was a record I heard as a child. The record was startlingly powerful to me because it was the first record that I ever heard use a curse word. Rap makes up for it's lack of melody with it's sense of reminders. So we did our own version of "Fight the Power.' As a matter of fact when we completed the version I heard that the Isley Brothers' publishing company was looking for samples the first day, but we didn't use any samples from the original song or hardly any reminders from the original song.

What more can I say? If "Bring the Noise' signified our rock and rap musical signature, no question this song reflects the heart, soul, spirit, and comittment of Public Enemy wrapped in one toss. Spike Lee, of course, was a giant genius for adding the visual effect to the lyrics. It's the video that repeatedly gets played over and over across the years, so therefore the song goes along with it.