Public Enemy’s 1988 sophomore album “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back” is, arguably, one of the greatest hip hop records of all time.
Our only complaint is the myopic warning at the beginning of the album with the threatening siren and Professor Griff’s declaration, “London, England, consider yourselves warned!” Public Enemy should have warned everyone, they just dropped a bomb.
Politically and socially conscious, the album masterfully invites the listener to engage and debate in a conversation that you don’t often find in music today.
And Chuck D provokes thought and reflection with his uncompromising lyrics built upon the foundation of loud, dense, and ferocious sound.
“An important message should have its importance embedded into the way it’s relayed.” – Chuck D
In listening to “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” you quickly realize the medium is the message.
To quote Dorian Lynskey, “A political work of art risks being smothered by respect, lodged in the box marked ‘important’ rather than the one labelled ‘fun, but no matter how much I have analysed and picked apart Nation of Millions, it makes my heart beat faster every time. It explodes the popular but false dichotomy between cerebral and visceral, between political engagement and wild pleasure, and demonstrates that there is nothing as thrilling as an intellect on fire.”
The music was, and still is, confrontational. In sharing their concerns, questions and answers Public Enemy challenged a generation to think for themselves.