Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

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

Released 1988 on CBS/Def Jam
Reviewed by Le Samourai, 24/05/2002ce

Is that one helluva bad-ass mutha of an album title or what? For that album title alone it deserves to be in Unsung. But thankfully the words and music within this disc are equally devastating. Public Enemy (MC’s Chuck D., Flava Flav, DJ Terminator X and controversial adviser/consultant/head of security Professor Griff
& his security team Secuirty of the First World) were one of the major important artists of the 80’s mainly because they showed the world how Hip Hop could become a socially conscious tool.

The 1980’s were a heavy, crazy time and Public Enemy were already on a heavy, crazy roll with their 1987 debut Yo! Bum Rush The Show. And they followed it up with the even more intense It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. This is mainly thanks to P.E.’s production crew known as The Bomb Squad (Hank Shocklee, Carl Ryder and Eric “Vietnam” Sadler.) This visionary team basically slices, dices, chops, bends, blends, and thoroughly
cooks musical samples into an heady, thick, *insane* musical stew. Even if you had the same music they sampled you *still* couldn’t quite figure out how P.E. put it all together.

This wall of crazy sampling was *the* perfect weapon for P.E. frontman “Rhyme Animal” Chuck D. Hip Hop was always (and still is) Party music but the music here is *so* dense and demented that it made you wonder what type of party was going on. Chuck D. would let you know that this party was definitely more political and serious. And trust me people “Bring The Noise”, “Don’t
Believe The Hype”, “Night Of The Living Baseheads”, “Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos” and “Rebel Without A Pause” are not mere Party anthems. We’re talking more “Anarchy In The U.K.” and
“White Riot” more than “Good Times” and “Shake, Shake, Shake Your Booty” here.

*Yes* that’s how important Public Enemy is. If you had ever wondered why music journalists around the world thought that Hip Hop was the new Punk than you need this album *right now.* Chuck D.’s rhymes put you right in the middle of modern day African American struggle with society, the media, the police and their collective ignorance and apathy of that time. Flavor Flav’s is
the “hype man” and provides some well needed comic relief but the overall musical and lyrical feel is unrelenting tension.

This *still* is the #1 *most* influential album in the world of Hip Hop. You certainly wouldn’t have Disposable Heroes of Hip-Hoprisy and tons of other crucial, socially conscious Hip Hop artists without it (it even influenced dance clubs artists like M/A/R/R/S and The Prodigy too.) It’s even more hard to believe that P.E. would later tour with Anthrax, U2, Sisters Of Mercy and (I think) Gang Of Four later on in their career but that just shows you how important and mind-altering this group was and still is.

Oh and while you’re at it go get these P.E. albums too:

Yo! Bum Rush The Show
Fear Of A Black Planet
Apocalypse ‘91

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