Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World is a four-part documentary that explores the roots of the hip hop movement, the impact of the crack epidemic and how music can be used as a tool for social change, particularly exploring the hip-hop community following the death of George Floyd.
Not content with just taking its name from a Public Enemy track, the new series is also hosted by the group’s frontman, Chuck D.
He’s joined throughout the series by a host of other luminaries and pioneers, who in the first half of the opening double bill include Melle Mel, KRS-One, Fat Joe, John Forte, and Grandmaster Caz.
All offer their thoughts on the genre’s deep roots, which reach back to the tumultuous changes of the 1960s and the social breakdown of 1970s New York, as well as the influence of figures like DJ Kool Herc.
But where are they all now? Here is everything you need to know.
Who is Chuck D?
62-year-old Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, real name Douglas Ridenhour, has released hits such as ‘Fight The Power’, ‘Rebel Without A Pause’ and ‘Don’t Believe The Hype’ with the band.
Chuck D founded Public Enemy in Long Island, New York, in the 1980s alongside Flavor Flav and Chuck D. The hip hop group were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2013 and have had six Grammy nominations.
Musically, Chuck D is also known for Prophets of Rage, which features members of Rage Against The Machine and Cypress Hill.
Who else is featured on the show?
Hip Hop luminaries featured in the series include B-Real from Cypress Hill, DMC, Eminem, Ice-T, Fat Joe, KRS-One, LL COOL J, MC Lyte, Monie Love, Abiodun Oyewole, Roxanne Shanté, and Will.I.Am as well as other culture figures.
B-Real has been one of two lead rappers in the hip hop group Cypress Hill since 1991, and has also been a member of multiple other musical projects, including Prophets of Rage, which also features Chuck D. In addition, B-Real has worked as a music producer, founded live streaming site Breal.tv, and even co-founded and co-captained a professional paintball team - the Stoned Assassins - who have competed internationally.
DMC is a founding member of the hip hop group Run-DMC, and is considered one of the pioneers of hip hop culture. Alongside music, he has authored a picture book, and been frank about his battles with depression, writing pieces on the topic for Men’s Health.
Eminem is credited with popularising hip hop in middle America and is critically acclaimed as one of the greatest rappers of all time, widely regarded as having broken racial barriers for the acceptance of white rappers in popular music.
Ice-T began his career as an underground rapper in the 1980s and was signed to Sire Records in 1987, when he released his debut album, ‘Rhyme Pays’. He continues to perform and release new tracks, and in 2020, he competed on The Masked Dancer, where he portrayed "Disco Ball" and was the first to be eliminated.
Fat Joe began his music career as a member of hip hop group Diggin’ in the Crates Crew (D.I.T.C.), then forged a solo career and set up his own label, Terror Squad, to which he signed a then-unknown DJ Khaled. Still active in the hip hop scene, Joe has also appeared in several films, including Scary Movie 3 and Happy Feet.
KRS-One rose to prominence as part of the hip hop group Boogie Down Productions, which he formed with DJ Scott La Rock in the mid-1980s. Best known for his song ‘Sound of Da Police’, he started the Stop the Violence Movement after La Rock was shot and killed in 1993. He is widely considered an influence on many hip-hop artists.
LL COOL J is one of the earliest rappers to achieve commercial success, alongside fellow hip hop acts like Beastie Boys and Run-DMC, and his breakthrough came with his single ‘I Need a Beat’ and his landmark debut album, ‘Radio’ in 1985. He has appeared in numerous films, and currently plays NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna in crime series NCIS: Los Angeles. LL Cool J was also the host of Lip Sync Battle.
When can I watch it?
Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World will be released in two parts. The first two episodes air on BBC Two on Saturday 21 January from 9pm, and the final two episodes one week later on 28 January.
All episodes will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer from 21 January.