Monday, February 2, 2009
Combat Jack vs Dallas Penn: Public Enemy
So last summer my friend Dallas was over at my crib and we was sippin on some brews. We chit chatting and what not about this and that. We get to talking about Public Enemy and then this knicca gets this blank ass weird stare in his eyes and starts talking like he far away, about how he stay 'pumping' Public Enemy's "Fear Of A Black Planet" on the daily since 1990, right before he takes a shower, just cuz it always gets him "sweaty like that". Talking about it, dude made me feel a bit uncomfortable because he sounded like he was really feeling like touching on hisself. Like right then and there. In front of me, wifey and the kids. [||]. "Black Planet. Yeah. Black Planet. Pump it. Ooh" is all he's saying. Thrown off by this unexpected behavior and more than a lil intrigued by his daily ritual, plus wanting to snap dude outta his trance and where ever he was going, I cautiously asked him what he thought about their classic album "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back". His regained his composure, but his response was, "it's hard body, but it ain't effin with Black Planet." WTF?!? Instantly, I felt some kind of ways, not because of his strange behavior, but because I'm deep with my music like that and I instantly started questioning dude's taste in quality music. I thought it was common knowledge that It Takes A Nation was like only the effin best hip hop record ever made evar!!! Then today, I see my dude talking reckless about the GOD. So on all this and on the fact that my dude has so much influence on youse out here on the internets, I feel it's my obligation as an upstanding citizen to make sure his blasphemous ideologies didn't further corrupt ya'll, especially you yung lil '80's babies who don't know Lil Wayne from shinola. Here for your review, I present my argument, song by song as to why "It Takes A Nation.." is not only PE's best album, but stands to this day as the one of the greatest albums ever made, bar none.
When released, It Takes A Nation dropped like an effin atom bomb on the heads of unsuspecting hip hop heads and surburban whites everywhere. Niggas was busy getting high off that Eric B. and Rakim, Big Daddy Kane hi-top fade and truck jewelry vibe and all that New Jack inner city hu$tle movement that was the fashion in every hood near you. The crack epidemic was at it's peak and chicks everywhere were doing the wop in they tight ass biker shorts. The party was in full effin effizect. No one knew the revolution was coming. But came it did, without warning on April 16th, 1988.
Boom. That cover right there is so effin classic! From the iconic logo to Chuck and Flav standing from behind the jail cell. Like they about to break the fuck out into your headphones and speakers. True, Black Planet had one of the illest covers with that spaced out planet illustration which artists Cey Adams and Steve Carr of the Drawing Board, Def Jam's in-house created. They even went to N.A.S.A. to research and get their planetary specs on point. One of the best album covers of all time no doubt. The cover was so spaced out though, that it really represented what that album was about, spaced out and all over the place. The cover of It Takes A Nation was genius in it's pure gullyness and simplicity. Real rock from the rock.
Countdown To Armageddon (Intro)
Holy shit! Them fucking sireen horns come in as some English bloke is announcing that PE is about to wreck some live shit in London. From the start, you don't know whats coming, but you know some epic shit is about to drop on your fucking head like a piano falling from the eight floor. Plus, these cats is killing it overseas before the album even starts. Watch out bitches!
Bring The Noise
The first time I heard this, I didn't know whether I was coming or going. Never was there ever a hip hop beat that was pure frenetic beautiful chaos like this. The Bomb Squad must have been dropping some heavy ass drugs to come up with a track like this. And right when you're trying to wrap your head around this insanity, Chuck comes in, voice all mad preachered out and effing RIDES the beat like cowboy to bull, and Flav's ad libs demonstrating why he's the GOAT hype man, people the world over lost their effin minds. This track was so hard they had to include it in the "Less Than Zero" soundtrack and movie, just to texture how being strung the eff out and going crazy snorting that yay must have sounded like to a young Robert Downey Junior.
Don't Believe The Hype
Funky dope maneuver. Catch phrase of the decade. A lot of niggas made money selling tee-shirts with that title there printed on 'em. I even peeped Bart Simpson dropping that slang. Plus, mad anthemic. For some reason, I remember a lotta fat chicks in the hood saying "don't believe the hype nigga". Alot and often.
Cold Lampin' With Flavor
Best Flavor Flav solo ever. The term "cold lampin'" also became a part of many inner city and surburban kids' vernacular overnight. Another loopy sounding, hard ass beat.
Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic
That operatic Queen sample and those frenetic beats still make me break out into a cold sweat. Hell broke loose, and it landed hard and violently on this track.
Unlike many albums with breaks and skits and shits, this one was really necessary. The prior tracks were so effin amped, if they didn't slow the tempo down, just a bit, niggas heads across the globe would have exploded spontaneously, like that dude's did in that there "Scanners" movie.
Louder Than A Bomb
Chuck speaks science about how paranoid he is, what with the FBI, CIA and shit all tapping a nigga's phone. Come to find out later they really were tapping his ass. [||].
Caught, Can We Get A Witness?
Here go the horns and baselines again. I'm getting dizzy writing this shit here. Nigga's all pissed off 'bout how they don't wanna pay for no sampled beats. Funny. Funky. Hella ig'nant too. Chuck's metaphors stay on point though.
Show 'Em Whatcha Got
Before "Rump Shaker", before Jay-Z, the Bomb Squad introduces us to one of the illest horn samples ever. True story, one of my closest friends and mentor who lives in Brooklyn, Arthur Young, who is now a stock broker in his 50's, humbly told me a coupla months that he used to be in a funk rock band called the Lafayette Afro Rock Band during the 1970's. He played the horns for the band. One of their songs they recorded is called "Darkest Light". "Show "Em Whatcha Got" sampled the horns from "Darkest Light". Arthur played the horns in that song. PE sampled Arthur's horns. Arthur is great like that.
She Watch Channel Zero
Great live band. Black chicks were pissed off because PE called 'em out. Some of 'em even tried boycotting the album, but it was too strong for them nappy headed hoes to stop.
Night Of The Living Baseheads
Insane track. Insane video. Insane use of the word BASE.
Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos
"Got a woman c.o. to call me a copter, she tried to get away, and I popped her" = definition of gully. What's fucking with that?
Rebel Without A Pause
One. of. my. favorite. songs. of. all. time. I remember the first time I heard this, about a year before the album came out, some murderous killer drug dealers from Brooklyn I knew were blasting this outta the speakers of they Samurai Suzukis. The beat was so deadly I thought that it was the theme song for murderous killer drug dealers. Really. Song was so gully that PE had murderous killer drug dealers tryna get some upliftment in their lives too. James Brown's "Funky Drummer" never sounded this hood. Wow.
Prophets Of Rage
Last call for sonic chaos on this album. I'm done, spent. Wrap this meal up in a doggie bag. No mas.
Party For Your Right To Fight
Clever wordplay remix on the Beastie Boys hit record. Get your Black Panther On type of call jam. Quirky, but thematically ends the album on a perfect note.
Whew. This album left cats so tired, so exhausted after taking in its entire content in one sitting. But they kept they cassettes on repeat though. I'm not even going into the whole Professor Griff thing, S1W's, short TI's getting all pissed off, niggas getting the PE logo tattered up on they arms and legs, politician's riled up, people's putting they dookie ropes in they desks only to be replaced by black medallions, cats converting to the Nation Of Islam, rocking kufi's and sellin bean pies and Final Calls, media going ape shit tryna dissect the album and eventually the band, Terminator X speaking with his hands, Flav's clock. Too much shit to write when you write about this album. Fuck that, It Takes A Nation wasn't an album, it was an event, an effin' MOVEMENT! When you study PE's entire body of work, it becomes apparent that this album was so monumental, so effin flawless that on their subsequent works, PE really had no where else to go but down. In my recent listen to Black Planet, it's clear to me that that album was where the Strong Island brothers jumped the shark. No stray shots though, CJ got nuthin but mad respect for PE for like forever. I keeps It Takes A Nation on repeat still, but no sweats and hot showers. Dallas, homie, cut it out dude. Maybe your "connection" to Black Planet makes you "feel good" for some reason, and if that's really your "hornin'", touching on yer body music, err, okay, cool, we all got our issues, but you might really wanna keep that one on the low potna. Plus, you's a star and all that, and we'll be homies 'til the end, but keep pumping out that slick talk, I might have to yank yer lil "internets celebrity" card status on the quick and of course, just for fun.