Why to Watch PBS’ ‘Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World’

Why to Watch PBS’ ‘Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World’

Hip Hop is so much more than a music genre – which is reflected in its undeniable impact. One of its key players, Chuck D of Public Enemy, worked with PBS and BBC to document Hip Hop history, influence and the political awakening it nurtured in a new docuseries, Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World.

Art as an Archive

Over the last 50 years Hip Hop has made a profound impression on not just the entertainment industry, but the culture at large. Through the music’s messages and the culture’s four elements – the MC, DJ, graffiti writer and b-boy – this art form was not only able to speak to the struggles, injustices, experiences and expressions of the country’s most underserved citizens, but also document it for all to understand.

Through its four episodes, Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World, Chuck D leads us through the last five decades with the upfront cadence he is known for delivering. The narrative is fleshed out further through interviews with influential figures like Ice-T, Grandmaster Caz, Roxanne Shanté, Run DMC,, MC Lyte, B-Real (Cypress Hill), Melle Mel, Fat Joe, Lupe Fiasco and many more.

Episode Guide

Each episode in the series explores a different era and how Hip Hop melded to the political climate of the time.

Episode 1 | The Foundation | Jan. 31 @ 9/8c

Discover the factors that led to the birth of Hip Hop and its first socially conscious hit “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five in 1982. Watch here.

Episode 2 | Under Siege | Feb. 14 @ 9/8c

Explore the 1980s and the birth of Hip Hop as social commentary in the Reagan Era with the emergence of artists like Public Enemy, KRS-One, Ice-T, and NWA.

Episode 3 | Culture Wars | Feb. 21 @ 9/8c

Experience the 1990s during the Clinton years and the unstoppable rise in popularity of Hip Hop, which becomes a force that is attacked by all sides of the political establishment.

Episode 4 | Still Fighting | Feb. 21 @ 10/9c

Follow the evolution of Hip Hop as its artists turn into multimillionaires and successful entrepreneurs. As a cultural phenomenon, Hip Hop continues to change history and is adopted as the voice of protest around the world.

Keep up with some of PBS’ other great shows, including Making Black America: Through the Grapevine.

Roll Call and Resumes

Hip Hop has become such a pillar in American society due to the contributions by its participants and proprietors. Let’s dig a little deeper into some of the influential (and in many cases, iconic) Hip Hop artists that were interviewed for this series.

Chuck D

Chuck D is best known for his role in Public Enemy, but his political activism alongside his numerous accolades (Grammy-nominations, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction for starters) have solidified his cultural significance far beyond the music.

Killer Mike

Another substantial voice in both Hip Hop and activism, Killer Mike has had his hands (and verses) in everything from Outkast’s early work to his group with rapper/producer El-P, Run the Jewels. He also has been heavily involved in American politics, acted in hit films and led his own docuseries, Trigger Warning with Killer Mike on Netflix.


As one of the most popular rappers of the 80s, Ice-T never shied away from controversy. As a major player in Hip Hop from its early stages to his successful acting career today, he has seen all the cultural shifts and erosions firsthand.


KRS-One, often referred to as Teacha, has been a longtime proponent of Hip Hop and has influenced many of the artists that came after him. He remains politically active today.

MC Lyte

A pioneer of women in Hip Hop, MC Lyte kicked off her career in the late ‘80s and has worked with some of the most impactful artists of all time. Today she is an actress, entrepreneur, director and philanthropist.

Additional Voices and Talent

Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World  also features Monie Love, B-Real of Cypress Hill, Roxanne Shante, Fat Joe, Run-DMC,, Lupe Fiasco, Grandmaster Cas, Melle Mel, Abiodun Oyewole (The Last Poets) and more.

How to Watch

Watch Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World starting on Jan. 31 on PBS and the PBS Video app.  Discover your local PBS station or find PBSNET on Ch. 389 at DIRECTV.

Get DIRECTV now to watch this eye-opening docuseries as well as many other exciting shows.

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