When the 88th Annual Academy Awards kicked off from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday night, host Chris Rock came out to the iconic rap group Public Enemy's hit 1990 song "Fight the Power." The song was also used to close out the ceremony, where Chris Rock mentioned the "Black Lives Matter" movement. Yesterday, Public Enemy's Professor Griff spoke out against the awards ceremony's use of the song in a statement to TMZ.
"The show can't claim the blackness of Public Enemy's message."
TMZ revealed that the group doesn't own the rights to license the song to the awards ceremony, with the rights belonging to Universal Music Group. Public Enemy front man Chuck D. later took to his Twitter page to discuss the use of the song, and the Oscars diversity issue. He says the song is "beyond" the group itself, although his statement wasn't quite as pointed as Professor Griff's. Here's what he had to say in a series of tweets below.
"The song FightThe Power is beyond me & the crew. The point of the song is a call to making change eventually not just applauding the thought. Art speaking. Fight The Power. Make change. Demand respect. Do your own awards RIGHT & give indie artists & actors a chance to make a LIVING."
Entertainment Weekly also spoke to the show's music supervisor, Byron Phillips, who defended the use of the song. While there were other songs in consideration, like Isaac Hayes' iconic Shaft theme song, they wanted to go with something more contemporary. Here's what the music supervisor had to say below.
"[We wanted to] really set the tone for what the night was going to be and do something that was representative of Chris, and who Chris was, and the vibe and tone Chris wanted to set for the evening. There was obviously nothing more perfect than 'Fight the Power' for that. ['Fight the Power' is] such an anthem for our generation that it made more sense to, first of all, have a contemporary feel, and just [for] the association with what you think of when you think of Chris. I really had a debate whether or not Chris wanted to come out that aggressively with it. [Rock] was like, 'Nuh-uh, I want to do 'Fight the Power.' There was no hesitation."
While the host's opening monologue was widely discussed on social media, especially his take on the Academy's diversity issues, it didn't necessarily help boost viewership. The ceremony's ratings dropped to an eight-year low, with 34.3 million viewers tuning in, down from last year's 37.3 million viewers. What do you think about Public Enemy speaking out over the use of "Fight the Power" at the Oscars? Take a look at Chuck D.'s tweets below, and in case you missed it, check out Chris Rock's opening monologue below.
I dont wanna hear about Oscars being white. Oscar been white. We have need black communities to support our ARTS as much as we do sports IMO— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) February 29, 2016
The song FightThe Power is beyond me & the crew.The point of the song is a call to making change eventually not just applauding the thought— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) February 29, 2016
Art speaking. Fight The Power. Make change.Demand respect. Do your own awards RIGHT & give indie artists & actors a chance to make a LIVING— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) February 29, 2016