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IT TAKES A NATION OF MILLIONS TURNED 36

One of the most influential recordings of all time, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, turned 36 today.
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On this day in 1988, Public Enemy released one of the best and most influential recordings of all time, the greatest hip-hop album ever: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.

Noting the enthusiastic response towards their live shows, PE intended to make the album’s music at a higher tempo than their 1987 debut 𝘠𝘰! 𝘉𝘶𝘮 𝘙𝘶𝘴𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘩𝘰𝘸 for performance purposes. The group also set out to create the hip hop equivalent of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On (1971), an album noted for its strong social commentary. Through their production team the Bomb Squad, PE introduced a densely aggressive sound influenced by free jazz, heavy funk, and musique concrète as a backdrop for lead rapper Chuck D, who employed sociopolitical rhetoric, revolutionary attitudes, and dense vocabulary in his performances.

It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back charted for 47 weeks on the US Billboard 200, peaking at number 42, and was certified Platinum by the RIAA in 1989. The album received widespread acclaim from critics, who praised its production techniques and Chuck D’s socially and politically charged lyricism. In 2003, it was ranked number 48 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, the highest ranking of all the hip hop albums on the list, and the only one acknowledged in the top 100.

Ice Cube said in 2005 that the album “messes with your brain even to this day.” Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) described it as her go-to album while touring. Busta Rhymes stated: “The title alone was incredible to me. The artwork was amazing. As a body of work, it just blew me away… I saw what that album did to the world. It helped bring me closer to understanding what’s required to be an artist of that calibre.”

Yo Flav, bum rush the sound and tell ’em wack MCs what time it is! Show ’em whatcha got, boyeee!

💧 You might also like RAPPER’S DELIGHT: HIP HOP’S FIRST TOP 40 HIT EVER.

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Featured image via Lisa Haun Michael Ochs.

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Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.
Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.

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