Saturday, July 23, 1988

Public Enemy Charts with It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back: July 23, 1988

Originally posted 7/23/11. Updated 7/23/13.

Release date: 14 April 1988
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) 1. Countdown to Armageddon 2. Bring the Noise (2/6/88, #32 UK, #56 RB) 3. Don’t Believe the Hype (7/16/88, #18 UK, #18 RB) 4. Cold Lampin’ with Flavor 5. Terminator X to the Edge of the Panic 6. Mind Terrorist 7. Louder Than a Bomb 8. Caught, Can We Get a Witness? 9. Show ‘Em Whatcha Got 10. She Watch Channel Zero?! 11. Night of the Living Baseheads (11/12/88, #63 UK, #62 RB) 12. Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos (4/22/89, #86 RB) 13. Security of the First World 14. Rebel without a Pause (11/21/87, #37 UK) 15. Prophets of Rage 16. Party for Your Right to Fight

Sales (in millions): 1.72 US, 0.06 UK, 1.78 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 42 US, 8 UK


Review: It only reached #42 on the Billboard 200 album chart and its one million in album sales pales compared to multi-million-selling rap blockbusters from Eminem, MC Hammer, Will Smith, the Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, the Notorious B.I.G., 2pac, 50 Cent, and Nelly. However, Nation is one of only three rap albums in the top 100 albums of all time according to Dave’s Music Database. The DMDB rated it album of the year and, perhaps most significantly, it tops the DMDB list of the best rap albums of all time.

All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine called it “a record that rewrote the rules of what hip-hop could do.” AMG The group has said they “set out to make what they considered to be the hip hop equivalent to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, an album noted for its strong social commentary.” WK

The message, delivered via Chuck D’s strong writing, “scared the hell out of America’s white parents with lyrics that praised Louis Farrakhan and a delivery that made retributive black violence seem inevitable, rational and – egad! – cool.” TL As Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn said, Chuck D “isn’t afraid of being labeled an extremist, and it’s that fearless bite – or game plan – that helps infuse his black-consciousness raps with the anger and assult of punk pioneers like the Sex Pistols and Clash.” WK

The production team known as The Bomb Squad developed “a dense and chaotic production style that relied on found sounds and avant-garde noise as much as it did on old-school funk.” WK Bomb Squad member Hank Shocklee has said, “Chuck’s a powerful rapper. We wanted to make something that could sonically stand up to him.” WK

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