Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
1988Def JamConscious Hip-Hop

One of the best and most important albums of all time. This thing is just so fierce and relentless in its assault on the senses that you can’t help but sit up and take notice. Anything that could unite groups of white teens behind a message of black power and make them memorize entire songs filled with complicated lyrics filled with attacks on the white establishment has to be something special. I speak not only about myself, of course, but friends and foes alike. Yeah, I was the douchebag white kid with a P.E. t-shirt my freshman year of college. I used to wear it to my private all-boys high school my senior year, so what could the harm be in wearing it to college? Man, that lasted about one week. I realized there are people that had more than the amazing music in mind when listening to this stuff. To me, the message was clear (but not applicable), but it was the sheer power of Chuck D’s voice and Terminator X’s driving rhythms and samples that just drew me in. I can still recite “Don’t Believe the Hype” and “Night of the Living Baseheads” by heart and still love the hell out of those songs. The first time I heard this it blew my mind. Thinking of it today in the context of what existed back then I still can’t believe it exists. And, in parting, I will leave you with the most oft written letter of my college career:

Dear Mr. D –

We’re suckers. We want you for our Army. Or, whatever.

The Government