Reprinted from the October 1994 edition of The 411:
At first, this seems like an obvious choice. But after listening to all six Public Enemy albums (counting Greatest Misses), the decision becomes less clear. There are classic elements in each one of Public Enemy's releases. In fact, at one point I considered spotlighting all of P.E.'s albums in this month's column. But ultimately, you can't ignore the impact that It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back had on the hip-hop world.
It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back is full of classic tracks, and is another one of those albums that you hear sampled all over the place. "Bring the Noise" is probably the track on the album that has had the most taken from it. Several songs over the last six years have had Chuck D's voice come in and say, "How low can you go?" or "Here we go again." Even P.E. uses samples from it on "Night of the Living Baseheads," the anti-drug single that explained the difference between "bass" and "base" and was the subject for the group's first video, and "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos," the symbolic tale of an escape from prison.
Two of the instrumental tracks on the album, "Show Em Whatcha Got" and "Security of the First World" have also been sampled heavily, providing the background for several songs by artists as varied as N2Deep, Babyface, Wreckx-N-Effect and even Madonna.
One of my favorite parts of the album is the intro to "Terminator X to the Edge of Panic," when thumping bass leads up to a point where Chuck D cuts in and then Terminator X cuts up the theme from "Flash Gordon." Other standout tracks include "Louder Than A Bomb," "Rebel Without A Pause," with its sample of the JB's "The Grunt," "Party For Your Right To Fight," which switches around the anthem the Beastie Boys popularized with a unique joint verbal attack by Chuck D and Flavor Flav, and of course, "Cold Lampin With Flavor," the metaphoric Flavor Flav solo that defined his unique style.
P.E. further established themselves as "Prophets of Rage" on tracks like "Caught, Can We Get A Witness?" which deals with sampling, a subject that is constantly being debated today; "Don't Believe the Hype," which has become an anthem for the group throughout their career amid controversy and numerous rumors; and "She Watch Channel Zero?!" which deals with the number of mindless shows that people watch on television, something that has also increased over the last six years.
Chuck D's hard-hitting lyrics, along with Flavor Flav's complimentary craziness, Terminator X's scratching, and the solid production of The Bomb Squad, create an album and a group that are true Hip-Hop Classics.