Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back Is A Classic | Review
How Classic? 6 out of 6!
Released: June 28, 1988
It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back was recorded under the working title of Countdown to Armageddon and was recorded in 30 days for just $25,000 dollars at Greene St. Recording in the lower Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo. When they realized the potency of their live shows, they decided to increase the tempos compared to their debut record, Yo! Bumrush the Show.
They also made a smart move to make the album exactly 60 minutes long or 2 x 30min. This was done because cassettes were the most popular format at the time and they would run for 60 minutes. This eliminated any dead space on the cassettes to the benefit of the listener.
It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back was released on June 28, 1988, on Def Jam Records and sold 500,000 in one month and was certified platinum on August 22, 1989.
The first thing that strikes you about a PE album is literary their sound. From the booming voice of Chuck D to the next level production full of dense and chaotic sounds. Looking back one can see that the Bomb Squad production crew were envelope-pushers who influenced the likes of Dr. Dre and many others. The funky horn work of ''Bring The Noise'' blend with a siren sounding electric guitar and is a great start to the album. Vocally Chuck D throws down from the get-go and one can't help but notice Flavor Flav's comments which add a special ''flavor'' to their lyrical content.
''Don't Believe The Hype'' is the next song on the album and it's one the best songs in their canon. It's unusually funky and features a dope high pitched squeal and Chuck D delivers some of his best lyrics on the album where he addresses the media head-on. Although the lyrics are thoughtful, the beat is infectious and it never loses its danceable appeal.
Two tracks on the album share a similar beat, ''Terminator X to the Edge of Panic'' and ''Rebel Without A Pause'' although the latter sounds more polished while the former sounds more like a DJ demo.
''Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos'' is a production jewel which shows how the Bomb Squad were ahead of their time. The repeating stabs of the slightly off-key piano is a technique that would be used for years by the likes of the Geto Boys and later Dr. Dre who would take it to another level in 1994 with ''Murder Was The Case''.
Overall this is a masterpiece showcasing the Bomb Squads production wizardry which when combined with Chuck's voice makes up the essential elements of Public Enemy's powerful sound. The lyrics creative yet to-the-point and have a powerful impact without being overly aggressive which is one of Chuck D's best qualities as a vocalist. And of course, Flavor Flav is Chuck's silly counterpart who adds a highly entertaining component to their lyrical statements. A classic album.