...a summary of a modern musical giant...
James Poletti 2005
Back when Public Enemy were shooting holes in the template, hip hop was already beginning to fracture as Bronx rapper KRS One traded insults with Queens resident MC Shan. But PE's agenda travelled beyond petty territorialism. Their look and sound was without precedent. It wouldchangethe face of music in the late twentieth century.
British rock critics hearing white noise and anger, knee-jerked their Punk Rock eulogies but Chuck D(aided by his comic foil Flava Flav) had too much to say to fit in that bracket.
The impact of their second album, It Takes A Nation Of Millions... , is still to be fully realised within hip hop. It made black politics iconic and inspirational to the dispossessed of the nation,and it did it with a soundtrack that reconfigured black music's past into a maximum velocity present.
Producers the Bomb Squad looped funk, jazz, soul, rock - and anything else they could lay their hands on - into a wall of sound that found its natural home way up in the red. Into it, Chuck D's proselytising lyricalbarrage merged to form the greatest hip hop act of all time.
Almost everything here is of the highest grade, but for me the pummelling "Welcome To The Terrordome" - the lead-off single from their third album - sounds like the most exciting five minutes ever committed to wax. It's so fierce that it makes the hip hop that followed sound just a little less significant than you thought.
As a summary of a modern musical giant, this album is essential.