It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Fear of a Black Planet Reissues with liner notes by the Roots' ?uestlove
and Wax Poetics' Andre Torres
You Want Six Dollars For WHAT?
Do you remember the late eighties? For your sake I hope not. With
the exception of a few bright spots such as Big Black, Jesus and Mary
Chain and Pop Will Eat Itself it was a barren wasteland of nicey nice
and we had to take cold comfort in the likes of The Primitives. When
the nice jingles of floppy haired ARSES too floppy and happily jaded
to care about politics is what you have to pretend is good enough
it's a sad lookout. Oh, there was Half Man Half Biscuit and Stump
too, of course. They were great. But over all it seemed that British
youth was defeated. Thatcher had done us in and all we could do was
to stare glassily into the distance and tap our toes to the likes
of The La's. That is until the Manics came along to save us and to
remind us that passion was not a four letter word. And so it was to
America that the likes of me had to turn. First I fell for Ice T who,
I now admit, wasn't really very good despite being a smart fellow.
And then NWA just lit me on fire. They seemed like the rap equivalent
of a way more talented Exploited. The world's most dangerous group
made me want to yell 'fuck everything' and burn the world to the ground.
But I wanted more. I wanted that anger and that hate and I wanted
depth and political clout and venom and fucking big clocks and a whole
new look and sound that would stop me looking backwards to the Clash
and have me looking forwards instead. The rap equivalent of The Exploited
wasn't enough. I needed intelligence too. It was a desparate time.
We needed saving and Fight The Power saved us.
I'm no musical purist and I don't think albums have to be listened
to in isolation so, if you don't have a lot of PE or none at all
then Fear of a Black Planet is a great place to start. Thirty eight
tracks for the super low price of some money or a dodgy download.
The super low price of some money in a currency would be worth it
for Burn Hollywood Burn alone. The thirty seven bonus tracks are
great too though. Everybody loves Fight The Power, of course and
I Can't Do Nuttin' For You Man has become a house favorite around
our place ('Your mother got gold nipples' seems more Goldie Looking
Chain than Public Enemy but that mix of brevity and levity is what
kept PE going. They were a party with politics and minus either
element they would have sunk). Many have slated Flavor Flav but,
as well as being the musical talent of the group, he also kept the
party element of the group and prevented them becoming preachy.
Without PE there might have been no Coup and for that we can give
thanks. I don't really know quite how to follow that or if I even
need to. Anyone who remembers my ranting review style from the heady
days of the mid to late nineties when Phil Rose Esq shouted pointlessly
into the void will know that I know nothing at all about reviewing
or even music but I know what I like. And I like this. Of course,
the only reason to release an album such as this is to attempt to
stir up interest in the group and the idea of a 'collection' or even
an 'album' in these days of Pick'n'mix track downloads seems odd.
But that's merely to shoot the medium and does not speak to the quality
of the music. But, in the words of Mr Vicious, "Ah, who cares
about the music?" Well, I do, of course but at its best music
is simply a delivery system for a message and what a message we got
from this, perhaps the last truly rebellious band to come out of the
States. In these days of ultra conformist right wing bollocks on this
(the American) side of the pond where the whole debate is who is doing
partiotism right and who supports the troops right, to hear ANYONE
(apart from The Coup, damn, forgot about them!) saying a line like
"They wanted me for their army or whatever, picture me giving
a damn? I said "never!"" is now so beyond the apparent
bounds of reason in this society as to still sound utterly fresh.
America loves its rebels but only mall-ready, reasonable rebels. Public
Enemy were not only unreasonable but they were black and they committed
the ultimate sin of appealing to middle class kids in the suburbs.
Much fucking good it did them...