Before we get started lets recap and see how we got here:
The other day someone on the boards, I think it was Thun, said something along the lines that I should own up to being just another 30 something boom bap dinosaur. Which of course I am, I am in my 30s and I do feel that hip hopâ€™s best years have come and gone. I donâ€™t long so much for a return to the sound as I do for a return the ethics and creativity of the day. I miss the spirit of originality that was brought to the table by the artists we still love and admire some 20 plus years after the fact.
I get that the music of our youth is always going to resonate more and that there will always be ebbs and flows with the quality of a genre. The problem is that we are now pushing 15 years of the same album, style, video, and albums. The music is horribly stagnant from a creative and artistic point of view.
It is a giant game of follow the follower, where everyone is hanging on to some ideal that they think the music is all about whether it is the underground artist who wants you to believe it has always been about the art and that materialism is a new phenomenon or the newest pop sensation that thinks they are paying homage to the old school ideals by being the hyper success of the week and being hot in the streets. And you know what both of those points of view are fine, they are limiting and wrong but they are fine. Hip Hop has moved to a place where the idea of fitting a prototype is more important than the idea of being unique and therefore fresh. The creative spirit, the idea that the art is a manifestation of the artistâ€™s personality, beliefs, and experience is seriously lacking in todayâ€™s music. Where other genres got fat and hit a lull, causing a groundswell of outsiders to reclaim the music in their image and ideals, rap has remained the same entity for the past decade and a half. The saddest part is that now you got 40 year olds trying to appeal to 15 year old girls. There is something incredibly creepy and sad about it.
That was really the point of this exercise, it was not to say â€œHey Paid in Full is a classic because it has some classic songsâ€ or â€œStraight Outta Compton is a classic because of its impactâ€ or even â€œReady to Die matters because it changed the gameâ€ no, the goal was to look at the album as an artistic expression both in itself and of the artists.
So I guess it is no surprise that Public Enemyâ€™s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is our number one album. Not only is it an artistic masterpiece, but it is single most important album of the past 30 years. I donâ€™t think I am speaking hyperbolically here. The impact it had on the culture as a whole is undeniable. But like I said I am not here to argue the impact the album had but the artistic merit.
The combination of Chuck D and Flavor Flav is a brilliant pairing that has been discussed ad nauseam and I have no desire to force that on you again. We get it, the combo worked. I want to talk about the Bomb Squad. I feel they just have not gotten their due. The production work on this album has yet to be touched by any producer or production team in the 22 years since itâ€™s release. You can take your Premoâ€™s, Dreâ€™s, Large Professorâ€™s, Pete Rockâ€™s, Rzaâ€™s, etc and they are all production midgets when compared to the work on this album. Not only did they set the mood for the bombast that was Chuck D, they built a sonic canvas that is pure genius.
To this day, with the right set of headphones I am still picking up on things I havenâ€™t heard, and I have been listening to this record for 22 years. It is a maddening jenga puzzle of production, if there was one false move the whole project would crumble, but they didnâ€™t miss a beat. The Bomb Squad is the most ahead of their time visionaries in the history of hip hop. I know sample laws have changed and an album like this could never be created today, but I think that is bullshit. The samples while helpful were only tools that helped them build a wall of sound that defined Public Enemy and eventually early Ice Cube. I think they would have done it no matter the tools they had. It was in them and of them. And it is because of them that Nation of Millions is Timlaskaâ€™s Top album of all time.