It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back review by Public Enemy

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  • Released: Apr 14, 1988
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 6.7 (7 votes)
Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back

Sound — 9
To tell you honest, I'm afraid to review this record. Everything you say about it - grand, epic, furious, political, stupid, quirky, groundbreaking, intelligent, failure, success - can all be true. One thing for sure - you can't ignore the "Nation Of Millions". Steven Tyler & Run DMC may have deliberately broken the barrier between rap and rock in that video, but Public Enemy just smashed the boundaries of everything. Rebelling without a pause and partying for their right to fight, PE had set a standard beyond reach to any other hip-hop outfit even 20 something years later. Recorded shortly after their quite successful debut LP ("Yo! Bum Rush The Show", 1987) in New York's Greene St. Recording Studio over a budget of 25.000$ (!) in about a month, "Nation Of Millions" was not supposed to be something huge, but it turned out that way. Bomb Squad's produced sirens blaring over a sampled funk beats, random scratches and guitar riffs over drum machine tracks - topped by Chuck D's energetic flow. This LP is as powerful as a record can get - your face just melts before the speakers. "Bring The Noise", "Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos", "She Watch Channel Zero?!", "Rebel Without A Pause" are stand-up-and-fight cuts, spinning you around the room, while "Cold Lampin' With Flavor" and "Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic" highlight other band members' skills, hype man Flavor Flav and DJ Terminator X respectively.

Lyrics — 10
In hip-hop, lyrics and flow are inseparable, not only you gotta have cracking rhymes, but also the right way to deliver them. Public Enemy does have both. Chuck D's lyrics touch themes like white supremacy, music industry exploitation, self-consciousness and black rebellion in general. Flav's quirky inserts are there not for entertainment and self-posing, but rather for satirical purposes. Innovative? - Maybe. It's just that no band had openly sung about it before. And, mind this, almost no f*cks and sh*ts on the record - yes, this was before the gangsta sh*t hit the fan. Yet, it sounds powerful enough to move thousands of people.

Overall Impression — 9
"Nation Of Millions" is a gem, not to be compared to any other record. When you're playing it, you don't just sit there trying to figure our catchy hooks and choruses and pointing out meaningful lyrics, you're simply feeling it. Some minor songs ("Security Of The First World", "Mind Terrorist", "Countdown To Armageddon") here and there, but it's fine as long as they're amongst "Bring The Noise", "Don't Believe The Hype", "She Watch Channel Zero?!", "Night Of The Living Baseheads", "Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos" and others. So, if you have ears to hear and eyes to see and for some reason you've missed (or dismissed) this record before, give it a try. It's worth it. Will I trade "Nation Of Millions" for any 50 Cent LP? - no f*cking way.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Nice to see review for this! Real classic!!! Not even compared with "modern" hip-hop.