Top 500: 48. It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Feb 5, 2015 | By: Steve
Well 48 albums in and we finaly get to a rap album. I am sure that it is no secret that I am not a fan of the genre. But, that is the very point of this exercise. To try and wrap my head around material that I have avoided my whole life. Material that other people sware is some of the best material out there. I remember when rap first started getting ground with Run DMC and the Beasties, I really, really did not like this stuff. I thought it was noise and far removed from anything that I would call music or even relate to. Even when Run DMC teamed up with Aerosmith, I liked it OK, but thought of it as a novelty and I wouldn't bother seeking it out or purchasing it. I would choose to listen to the original any day of the week. It wasn't until Eminem came around that I actually went out and bought a rap album. He is so talented, that it couldn't be ignored. The thing that change it for me, I think wasn't just that he was white, even though I was always afraid of being called out on that. The real thing was that rather than being intimidating, eminem was funny. The humour changed it all. I never saw that humour in Chuck D's Marv Alpert impersonating style and tone or his side kick Flav. I missed it.
I have listen to this a few times, short sessions spread out over weeks. I am still not a fan. I probably won't choose to listen to this as a casual fan. That's perfectly OK, it wasn't written for me and that's not the point anyway, the point is to understand it, and I have come to that point. I can listen to this and I get it. Tom Moon's essay on it helped a lot. Understanding what went into creating this organized noise was an eye opener. To really appreciate the craftsmanship envolved and to understand that the noise is the whole point. When I was younger I listened to a lot of heavy metal. One of the big selling points of heavy metal is that it alienates others. People would call it noise and screaming, and I would somehow feel superior because I unsterstood it and liked it. It also brought my fellow metal heads closer together because we liked the same stuff for the same reason. Heavy metal actually gave us outcasts a group to belong to. A sense of community. Rap does the same thing for the exact same reasons. Beyond that, there is some real talent and skill envolved here. Aside from the actual rapping and constructing those rhymes, that go on for days, the production behind it...created at a time before computer generated music was being used. This was created from scratch. The idea of bringing in all types of noises (kind of like musique concrete) isn't that foriegn really. Pink Floyd did it and The Beatles did it. Public Enimy just did it with a hip hop vibe rather than a psychedelic one.