14 April 2013

14th April - Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

Artist – Album: Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Released:  14th April 1988             
Sounds Like: Earth shattering rock rap

At heart I’m an indie rock fan. I grew up listening to XFM and Absolute Rock Radio and, being from Manchester, Oasis were the only band anyone wanted to talk about. I was 14 when I bought my first album with rap in it, and even older before I bought something by a band with a female lead singer (there was surprisingly with of them in the late nineties!). I have branched out from those humble beginnings of course, and now I can call myself a fan of anything from sunshine pop straight through to shoegaze... In the world of hip hop though, my dabbling has tended to stay quite alternative and quirky, with the likes of De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest being my go-to groups.

A friend of mine started along a similar path but has since tried to immerse himself in rap and hip hop music, although there are understandably still gaps in his knowledge. Years of listening to R.E.M and the Police may have affected our urban knowledge. When I texted him to say that this Public Enemy album is widely regarded as the greatest hip hop album of all time, he contested it. My overly long and geeky text back:

“From Wikipedia – “has been claimed by various publications and writers as one of the greatest and most influential recordings of all time”. Q hailed it as “the greatest rap album of all time”. Melody Maker called it “bloody essential”. NME dubbed it “the greatest hip hop album ever” and Rolling Stone ranked it 48th best of all time, the highest ranked of the 27 hip hop albums in the list...”

So it’s pretty damn good then. Although they ostensibly built on the rock rap template of Run DMC, there’s a far greater depth and dimension to Public Enemy’s work. They have the punk attitude of Sex Pistols, the strong political sentiment of Spike Lee movies, the powerful delivery of N.W.A, abrasive rock guitars like Rage Against the Machine, and funky backbeats sampled from James Brown, Funkadelic, and the Commodores to name a few. “Bring the Noise”, “Don’t Believe the Hype”, “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” and “Rebel Without a Pause” are classics of their genre.

Do believe the hype.

Albumaday... rating: 9/10

1.       Countdown to Armageddon – 1:40
2.       Bring the Noise – 3:46
3.       Don’t Believe the Hype – 5:19
4.       Cold Lampin’ with Flavor – 4:17
5.       Terminator X to the Edge of Panic – 4:31
6.       Mind Terrorist – 1:21
7.       Louder Than a Bomb – 3:37
8.       Caught, Can We Get a Witness – 4:53
9.       Show ‘Em Whatcha Got – 1:56
10.   She Watch Channel Zero?! – 3:49
11.   Night of the Living Baseheads – 3:14
12.   Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos – 6:23
13.   Security of the First World – 1:20
14.   Rebel Without a Pause – 5:02
15.   Prophets of Rage – 3:18
16.   Party for Your Right to Fight – 3:24

Listen to ‘Bring the Noise ’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cvy7MWjfVPE

Also released on the 14th April:
2003: M83 – Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts

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