They’re two of the greatest lyricists in hip-hop history.
Their rhymes are the perfect blend of book smarts and street intelligence.
They both came to prominence in the beautiful ear of the mid-’90s, each representing a gritty east coast city.
They are like two sides to the same coin, cut from the same cloth, with different paths – one was anointed hip-hop’s savior as a teenager and became a star, the other was part of a group that grew in popularity over time and built his respect steadily but gradually.
They’ve been worshiped by hip-hop heads for decades.
And they had never collaborated together.
Nas and Black Thought may have a lot of similarities, but they weren’t always on the best of terms. Long before Nas performed with Thought and The Roots at the 2011 Roots Picnic, they actually had a quiet beef, back when Nas was giving interviews and criticizing everyone.
That was almost twenty years ago and there are bigger problems in 2020, so Nas and Black Thought have finally hopped on a song together. That may not be surprising – it’s a surprise it took this long – but the song on which they finally came together may be.
Related: Classic Non-Album Cuts: Nas
In response to the recent spate of killings at the hands of police officers and the resultant protests, it was a perfect time for Public Enemy to revisit their all-time classic resistance anthem, “Fight the Power,” but this time they brought reinforcements.
For this version, Chuck D updates his opening (“1989” is replaced with “2020”) and then hands it off to some heavy hitters. Nas and Thought are joined by YG and the fantastic Rapsody, along with Questlove on the turntables.
Nas uses his verse to drop some history:
“Haiti beat France, a century, seventeen/Salute Toussaint and Dessalines/And I do love France, know what I mean?/It’s the system I’m talkin’, nobody’s agreein’.”
Black Thought’s content is more recent, mentioning NBA players that took a stand years before Colin Kaepernick:
“But look, I think of images that fuel my youth/Been influenced by Craig Hodges and Abdul-Rauf/Examples like Olympic, Black Power salutes/To Panther troops, I saw as I pursued my truth”
Here’s the entire song:
It may not be the Nas/Black Thought collaboration we’ve been dreaming about, but it’s certainly better than nothing. And this version of “Fight the Power” stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the original.
Christopher Pierznik is the worst-selling author of nine books. Check out more of his writing at Medium. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter. Please feel free to get in touch at CPierznik99@gmail.com.