On this day, June 28, in hip-hop history…
1988: Twenty-five years ago today, and fourteen months removed from their 1987 debut release, Yo! Bum Rush The Show, the groundbreaking and legendary hip-hop group from Long Island, New York, instilled an eternal imprint on the culture of hip-hop with their authoritative and gripping album, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.
Already renowned for their bold, demanding and controversial style, Public Enemy took their fearless approach to unprecedented heights on It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, which was the groups second studio recording under Def Jam. In an attempt to mirror its extensive social impact, Public Enemy channeled Marvin Gaye’s iconic album, Let’s Get It On, while constructing and recording It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. Laced with both socially and morally cognizant lyrics, led by the purposefully outspoken Chuck D, Public Enemy assesses the ideologies of political consciousness, white supremacy, and self-empowerment within the African-American community. Aggressively captivating throughout its entirety, the album leaves listeners no option but to intently digest the multitude of potent messages rooted throughout it.
Peaking at number forty-two on Billboard’s Top 200 Pop Albums chart, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back would go on to sell over 500,000 copies in its first month, and over 1.2 million copies entirely. The album was ultimately certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Produced entirely by The Bomb Squad, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back carried with it four singles that found their way into the top 100 of Billboard’s charts, with one of those, “Don’t Believe The Hype”, reaching top twenty status.
In what is undoubtedly one of the most significant and influential albums of all time, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back was unlike anything that had ever been released in hip-hop to that point in time, and twenty-six years later, the same sentiment can still be voiced about the revolutionary album.-Michael Blair