All it takes to hold you back is lazy lyrics – Fran’s Review

Barely 20 seconds into track one, this week’s album broke the golden rule of Hip Hop. If you’re going to refer to yourself as “public enemy number one” you must not be introduced by that stalwart of the Establishment, BBC Television. Oh dear Public Enemy, what a blow to your street cred in one ill-judged moment at the Hammersmith Odeon. Countdown to government-endorsed Armageddon on a Monday night.

Fortunately track two begins a little more credibly, but a funky beat is just not enough to disguise the lyrical let-down that follows. Public Enemy’s priority with this album seems to be telling the world (particularly the government), that they will continue to proclaim their message loudly. However they never seem to get round to the message itself; the majority of the album is spent proclaiming the wonders of Public Enemy, and only right at the end does Party For The Right To Fight finally vaguely refer to increased equality and power.

It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is alright if you’re in the mood for some fairly brainless rap with a bit of a bounce, but it seems like a missed opportunity to say something meaningful. Perhaps Public Enemy had already said it all in their first album…


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5 Responses to All it takes to hold you back is lazy lyrics – Fran’s Review

  1. Dave says:

    Completely disagree.

    “Brainless rap with a bit of bounce”?

    Compared to the America described in the album, the BBC represents a free-thinking, fair, liberal utopia. Historically Britain has often been more accepting of music that is different. Most of the indie bands we love – Arcade Fire, The Pixies, The Killers – were all bigger on our side of the pond before getting big. The Kings Of Leon had to cut their hair and sing o-o-oh my sex is on fire to reach mainstream appeal in their country, so you can perhaps see PE’s frustration at US radio. PE’s lyrics are hardly brainless compared to that, although who won the Grammy?

    It seems like you’ve just been listening to Flavor Flav, who I admit isn’t in the same league as Chuck D., who carries the messages – as written above – and Terminator X whose innovative and exciting musical style is like nothing before. I think you’ve underestimated the lyrical content of the album and presumed it’s just a race thing, when it’s much wider than that, as I’ve tried to address in my review. What Flav does bring to the record is a lighter more silly side, balancing the attacks of Chuck D.

    My disappointment of hip hop as a genre is that, in the most part, from this seminal album it’s done what you have done and taken the minor bigging-myself-up aspect of the lyrics – here used to increase the energy of the record -, which later turned into gangsta rap, bling and p.i.m.p.’s, and failed to capture the inventiveness and dynamicism of the the music and the lyrics. It’s this lack of development which is why, for such a large genre in terms of quantity, it doesn’t feature much on the music tree.

    I think this is the most we’ve disagreed on an album, which is why I’ve felt obliged to write this post. What you’ve said is present in the album, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near dominant and I feel there is so much more to it.

    • Dave says:

      Channel Zero for example is a blast on crappy TV, in particular the soaps. Channel Zero because it’s worthless. “2, 7, 5, 4, 8 she watched she said – All added up to zero, And nothing in her head. She turns and turns and she hopes the soaps are for real – she learns that it ain’t true, nope. But she won’t survive and rather die in a lie….Her brain’s retrained by a 24 inch remote. Revolution a solution for all of our children. But her children don’t mean as much as the show, I mean, watch her worship the screen.” Without going into too much detail, because I don’t like talking about these things (especially on the internet), but you can probably guess who I think about when I read those lyrics and the impact that that has had upon my life.
      TV is the greatest tool we have for spreading information, educating, enlightening the world, but it’s not used that way because of what it does to people, because it’s 99% full of crap.

      • Fran says:

        Alright Dave, I think you’ve made your point. I thought you would rather I posted my review based on what I thought at the time instead of waiting until I had a chance/the motivation to listen to it properly. Channel Zero is in fact track 10, and Flavor Flav had worn me down by then to the point where I could not longer be bothered to listen. I’m glad you think it’s marvellous, but I just wrote how it made me feel.

  2. Dave says:

    Don’t worry – I won’t be so up myself next week. After all, you’re the one with Chicago House on vinyl! I hope I haven’t offended you. This is an album I know quite well which is why I have some strong opinions on it. I love your personal review style and don’t want you to change. In fact, I have been influenced by it myself, stealing your style to raise the level of my reviewing. Flavor Flav is annoying, which is partly why I ridiculed him in mid-week post.

  3. DexterJ says:

    Hi Fran,
    Very interesting, even if it’s your favorite rapper. just admit it even if you still like. it’s perfectly fine 2 B honest. We all have some kind of guilty pleasure.


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