“It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back Out”
October 14, 2023 by Kevin Gomez
Few bands have had as big an impact on music, culture, and society as Long Island, New York’s Public Enemy. Revolutionary in their style of music, lyrics, and attitude, Public Enemy appeared like an atomic bomb in the mid-1980s.
Their music was so radically ahead of its time that their themes are just as relevant today – 40 years later – as they were when they were written.
Their live shows were, and still are, a thing of legend, featuring one of the most prolific emcees to ever grace the mic with and a larger-than-life hype man.
Run in a militant-like style, both in appearance and performance, Public Enemy released their first album, “Yo! Bum Rush the Show” in 1987 to critical acclaim. Fronted by rapper, Chuck D, their lyrics told the story about the struggles of African Americans in this country – their famous logo featured “The crosshairs logo symbolized the black man in America… the black man on the target,” as he once explained. Featuring pro-black lyrics, political themes, and telling tales of poverty, police brutality and oppression.
Chuck D’s powerful voice and message was countered by the wild, unpredictable high-energy style of Flavor Flav, the man most often associated with the very term “hype man.”
Together, they were backed by DJ Terminator X, who often provided scratching and unconventional beats to play against Chuck and Flav.
From their associations with director Spike Lee, to one of the first bands to merge rock and rap together (“Bring the Noise” remix featuring Anthrax), to now 40 years later being active in the music scene,
Public Enemy was not only one of the first hop-hop acts to do it, but they’re also one of the few left still doing it. They have been nominated for several Grammys, eventually winning the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019, as well as being inducted in the 2013 Class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
If “Bum Rush” introduced Public Enemy to the world, it would be their follow-up, “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back Out,” that would cement their legacy as one of the pioneers and icons of hip-hop.
The album would eventually be certified platinum, an almost unheard-of achievement for a rap album, back when it was released in 1988. They, along with LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys would be one of the first groups whose success would help launch the now-famous Def Jam Records, founded by Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin.
Now, for the first time ever, the album will be available in four LP and two LP vinyl, starting November 10th.
The four LP package features bonus tracks from the deluxe two CD set, extensive new liner notes penned by Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Q-Tip, and Questlove, and a 12×12 of the Public Enemy logo.