Wednesday, September 28, 2011

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

More than 20 years ago, Public Enemy leapt into the mainstream with the release of their second album, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. This was music like the kids never heard before and their strong album crossed races getting everyone involved in this new sound. They were also my introduction to rap music and once I got a taste of this record, I loved it!

The rap that the kids knew before this was Run-DMC, Tone Loc, and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. Public Enemy, however, was a new sound with raw power and meaning. The beats, the rhythm, and the vibe were all obvious. This was rap that rocked!

The opening track “Bring The Noise” (which would later be re-recorded with Anthrax) set the tone for something special. The samples and scratches played by Terminator X were so unique and amazing, that as a teenager, I had to have this record. And once I got my hands on it, I couldn’t stop listening to it. Thanks to Public Enemy I learned who Pharacon was, I learned about rap music, and I learned about rhyming and beats. It Takes A Nation Of Millions… taught me how much differently great songs could be constructed. Not everything had to be guitar chords and drums. This opened my eyes to a world of different music that I never knew existed.

“Don’t Believe The Hype” (which I performed in the High School Lip Synch), is a brilliant song sending messages to the youth that not everything is as portrayed by the media or others who have their own agenda in delivering the news. Thanks to this song, I learned who Harry Allen was and I fell in love with Flava Flav. His vocals brought this song to the next level. Mostly dismissed as Chuck D’s sidekick, Flava Flav had his own voice and it really showed on “Don’t Believe The Hype.”

Flava gets to go solo on the next track, “Cold Lampin’ With Flava.” It’s a silly, fun song complete with Flava Flav’s Ernie chuckle laugh. A great segue from the seriousness of the rest of the album. Flava takes a side road to fun and mixes nonsensical lyrics with horns and quick drum beats to create an atmosphere of hilarity.

It Takes A Nation Of Millions opened doors to worlds of music that I was blind to prior to owning this disc. Public Enemy led me to N.W.A., a deeper appreciation for Hip-Hop and Rap music, and it also led me into jazz, soul, and R&B. There was so much more out there that I hadn’t been exposed to, and listening to It Takes A Nation Of Millions made me see that.

A brilliant work of art that sent Public Enemy into homes worldwide, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back is a solid album that everyone should have in their collection. It changed my life for the better, introducing me to different styles of music that would eventually become deep loves. More than 20 years later, this record still holds up as one of the greatest works of art ever released.

Public Enemy…you rock!

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