“Born To Fight” by Tracy Chapman (1989)

Sales-wise, Tracy Chapman’s Crossroads got hit with the sophomore jinx a little. Qualitatively, it’s almost as solid as her debut. “Born To Fight” was the second single taken from the album, and it’s obvious that Tracy was not going for radio spins with lyrics about refusing to be turned into a “white man’s drone”. I personally got wind of the song via Friday Night Videos, where the Spike Lee-helmed clip debuted one night in late 1989 or early 1990. The clip is striking, interspersing Tracy singing in a boxing ring with images of civil rights leaders past and present.

Tracy goes for the jugular with this blues-infused tune, emphasizing the resilience and stubbornness (and I mean this in a good way. My stubbornness is why I’m still here) of Black people in a more aggressive tone than listeners were accustomed to from her. Even though I pegged “Born To Fight” as a favorite from the first time I heard it, I feel that it’s much more resonant to me in 2017 than it was as a callow 13 year old.

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