Amid widespread civil rights protests and a nationwide pandemic, Public Enemy released an anti-Trump anthem, calling for the resignation of President Donald Trump even before the 2020 general election.
Chuck D, the leader of the iconic hip-hop group, told ABC News in a phone interview on Friday that "STATE OF THE UNION (STFU)," which is produced by DJ Premier, was inspired by the president's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the protests and "his action over the last 120 days."
"I didn't write a lot of anti-Trump songs, but this is an anti-45 one for sure. Because it doesn't talk about him not being the right person for the job and we voted him out so much, it's talking about you gotta leave now. Because you know, the mountains burn and you got to put out the fire," Chuck D said.
The president has downplayed the spread of the coronavirus and vowed to "dominate" protesters around the U.S. who rallied against racism and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
The rapper, who has been outspoken against Trump since the 2016 election cycle, also criticized "the old authoritarian guards in their 70s," including presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, saying that it's time for a new generation to lead.
"I think that what we're seeing now is a question of young energy saying, 'why are you playing around with my future?' And whenever you look at the old authoritarian guards in their 70s making judgment calls for the future, I think it finally hits the fan where younger people are saying ... 'listen man, you can't play around with my future.'"
Chuck D has been at the forefront of hip-hop activism for decades. But according to the rap legend, today's civil rights movement, which has swept across all 50 states and even abroad, is unique in its reach.
"The United States is a stage and everybody's looking in at it and the response all throughout the world, that's what's made it really difficult," he said. "No longer can the United States of America take its John Wayne role and start saying that they're the cowboy police of the planet, because it's the most righteous and the fairest. So I think that's been exposed. That's what makes this different."
The leader of Public Enemy, who was a child during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, added that advancements in technology, particularly the rise of social media, has enabled this movement to spread faster.
"The technology is quicker and allows the person to go directly to the person. You're not going to beat that at all, other than if you're right next to a person and their physical space," he said.
Although police brutality is not a new issue and activists, including Public Enemy, have been sounding the alarm on systemic racism in law enforcement for decades. The video of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as he called out that he couldn't breathe went viral on social media and drew widespread outrage.
The rapper, who has written about the history of hip-hop in "This Day in Rap and Hip-Hop History," reflected on one of the group's most groundbreaking songs, "Fight the Power," and what the anthem and call to action means today.
"Young adults see the hypocrisy in power so they're assuming it themselves in collectivity," he said.
Chuck D specifically pointed to the nationwide movement against statues, monuments and symbols associated with the leaders of the Confederacy, who fought against the United States during the Civil War and stood for the preservation of slavery.
Trump has opposed the removal of the monuments. As protesters on Friday attempted to take down a statue near the U.S. Capitol of President Abraham Lincoln towering over a kneeling, newly-freed slave, the president signed an executive order on protecting monuments.
"I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues - and combatting recent Criminal Violence," Trump tweeted. "Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!"
Chuck D said that honoring Confederate symbols and figures is something that older generations could "settle" for, but the new generation is "not even going to even settle for these symbols."
"The tearing down of symbols in Confederacy is like, to me, it's a no brainer," he said, adding that while the "conservative regime" saw them as "being rather benign," the statues of the Confederacy "for people of color such as black folk, (have) been a slap in the face throughout our whole existence."