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Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Christopher R. Weingarten

Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

Part of the 33 1/3 Series


Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Christopher R. Weingarten

Christopher Weingarten's take on Nation Of Millions is a nuts-and-bolts account of how the Bomb Squad produced such a singular-sounding record - the engineering, sampling, scratching, constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing. How they re-sampled their own scratches to create Bring The Noise , how they plundered and reconfigured their own composition for the proto-IDM splatter-collage of Night Of The Living Baseheads . And, most importantly, how they played all the samples by hand - together in a room like like a rock band - creating a 'not quite right' tension that made the slick Reichian loops of Marley Marl look instantly dated (and by jacking a lot of the same breaks to boot). Through intense research and interviews, Weingarten delves into the original songs that were sampled and recontextualized forever. He finds out which of the four Bomb Squad members had the most personal relationship with each sample. Which records came from whose crate and why? Four songs sample 'Funky Drummer' (P.E. has certainly used it more than any other artist outside of Atari Teenage Riot). What is it about its tumbling propulsion makes it their heartbeat? Were they influenced by Kool G Rap and the Ultramagnetic MC's use of it? Did they feel James Brown's vocal vamps in the original ('You don't have to do no soloing, just keep what you got brother') or the nature of Stubblefield's eight-bar solo (just the same riff played over and over) predate the feel and aesthetic of sample-based hip-hop? 'A growing Alexandria of rock criticism' - Los Angeles Times , 2008. 'Ideal for the rock geek who thinks liner notes just aren't enough' - Rolling Stone . 'One of the coolest publishing imprints on the planet' - Bookslut . For more information on the series and on individual titles in the series, check out our blog online.

About the Author

Christopher R. Weingarten is editor-in-chief of the music site Paper Thin Walls. He is the former new music editor of CMJ New Music Monthly, and has written for many other publications including Spin, the Village Voice, and The Source.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd June 2010


Christopher R. Weingarten

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Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


144 pages


Rock & Pop music
Individual composers & musicians, specific bands & groups



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