It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back Enhanced, Original recording remastered, Extra tracks
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PE: The last great political act of our times? This album certainly seems to back the theory up. A year after the polemic of Chuck D, the sneer of Flavor Flav and the post-modern noise concrete of the Bomb Squad burst onto the public consciousness with Yo, Bum Rush The Show, Public Enemy really pulled out the stops with It Takes A Nation... Signed to Rick Rubin's Def Jam label on the basis of the vocalists' freestyling skills, what emerged, when backed by the sample-crazy methodology of Hank Shocklee et al was a furious squall of beats and righteous anger that still assaults the ears.
What makes ITANOMTHUB such a fresh sound to this day is the focus given to Chuck D's ire by the production. Whether he's addressing the issues of disenfranchisement in a racist society (Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos), political obfustication (Don't Believe The Hype), or just the soma-like effects of the modern media (She Watch Channel Zero?!) his lyrics are spat with a controlled rage that is mirrored by the Bomb Squad's beats. It could be argued that these beats are where the real political agenda is adressed. Most people remember PE as the band that liberated James Brown from parodic dotage; reminding the world of how explosive and subversive his (and his proteges such as the JBs and Bobby Byrd's) beats could be. But the samples and beats on offer here also came from labelmates, the Beastie Boys and Run DMC, as well as PE themselves and a fair smattering of free jazz and other early rap acts. The message was that black music could be reclaimed and re-tooled as a semantic crowbar - screaming to the world that rhythm was as eloquent as words when reminding us of the world's inequalities.
Of course, the Nation Of Islam spiel (mainly propagated by Professor Griff, who was soon to leave the band) gave detractors a toehold, by pointing at the band's potentially anti-semitic undertow. But a careful listen to Chuck D's flow shows the man to be asking for Farrakhan to be understood in context, not just espousing his more extreme views. A caucasian-controlled media were genuinely scared by this band.
In the end ITANOMTHUB is possibly the greatest rap album ever made. Balancing political incisiveness with rock dynamics, it crossed the race divide and almost instantly made all other rap acts sound tame. For a brief spell hip hop was about more than guns and bling. --Chris Jones
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Top Customer Reviews
2014 - 26 years on & this masterpiece finally gets the deluxe treatment from Def Jam/Universal. There was talk of a 20th Anniversary set in 2008 but this came to nothing at the time. Pleased as I am that this set has finally been put out, & Ill get straight to the point here , there are some glaring omissions. Chad Jackson`s manic DMC mixes of "Rebel" & "Bring the Noise" are missing as are the Jam Master Jay remix of "Louder than a Bomb" & the remix for "Party for Your Right" - both available on "Greatest Misses" but certainly worthy of their inclusion here.
There really should have been a 4th disc of Chuck D`s home demos & alternate versions of the album (aka: "Soul of a Nation") as it has been rumoured that Chuck wanted these out years ago but Universal baulked at the idea of clearing samples for a second time! A complete disc of instrumentals - or even the un-released versions recorded by PE`s backing band, The Banned - might have swayed it for some fans to buy the cd again.
The dvd is a nice touch as the VHS tape has never been released officially in this format. "Cold Lampin` With Flavor" appears to be missing which if true, is a criminal omission. Some period era Yo!Read more ›
This is the best *sounding* CD version yet. Certainly superior to the original disc and *far* superior to the 2000 master which just felt louder and slightly harsher but still lacked any proper low end weight.
The low end had been given some much needed weight and everything now sounds quite balanced. It's not an astonishing difference by any means but a worthwhile and welcome one. I tested all the CD's on an audiophile system vs an original vinyl pressing. Unsurprisingly the vinyl is the clear winner with more natural vocals but the new remaster was the closest to the vinyl in terms of sound quality over the previous CD issues.
Packaging for the set is excellent and the extra material and DVD are nice bonuses.
It's the best CD version we're ever likely to see....
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just about the best album recorded...i've tried finding a weak spot...there just isn't one! The fact that this album was the first rap album in top-selling 100 albums of all time,... Read morePublished 5 months ago by anon
i was mesmerized when i listened to this cassette of public enemy as i love old school and this definitely payed the bill, it was perfect for street dancing :D thank you very much... Read morePublished 6 months ago by THOMAS NEWBON
Classic album, i`m reliving my youth (i`m sure i can hear my dad telling my 15 year old self to turn it down) go and buy it.Published 6 months ago by Rob
Without a doubt Public Enemy's best album and certainly one of the best albums of the 80's 'It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back' is crammed with great songs. Read morePublished 8 months ago by John F