IT Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back - Background

Background

Public Enemy's 1987 debut album Yo! Bum Rush the Show, while acclaimed by hip hop critics and aficionados, had gone ignored for the most part by the rock and R&B mainstream, selling only 300,000 copies, which was relatively low by the high-selling standards of other Def Jam recording artists such as LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys at the time. However, the group continued to tour and record tirelessly. "On the day that Yo! Bum Rush the Show was released, we was already in the trenches recording Nation of Millions," stated lead MC Chuck D.

With It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, the group 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. As said by Chuck, "our mission was to kill the 'Cold Gettin' Dumb' stuff and really address some situations." In order to ensure that their live shows would be as exciting as those they played in London and Philadelphia, the group decided that the music on Nation of Millions would have to be faster than that found on Yo! Bum Rush the Show.

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