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500 Greatest Albums Podcast: How Public Enemy Took on ‘A Nation of Millions’

In the debut episode of our new series, Chuck D and Hank Shocklee tell the story of one of hip-hop’s most important albums – breaking down its revolutionary lyrics and the sample-layering tricks behind its groundbreaking sound

Clockwise from bottom left: Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, Terminator X, S1W and Chuck D of the rap group Public Enemy in 1988.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In September, Rolling Stone unveiled the new version of our 500 Greatest Albums poll. It’s a completely updated version of our most read, most argued-over list ever, made with help from a group of voters that included Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Stevie Nicks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and members of U2, as well as writers, critics, and figures from across the music industry. 

We’re celebrating the new list with a big new undertaking: an in-depth podcast, made in partnership with Amazon Music. Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums goes inside the making and the meaning of 10 albums from the list, featuring fresh stories from the artists who recorded them and insights from the Rolling Stone staff.

In the first episode of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums, we tackle one of hip-hop’s most important albums: Public Enemy’s 1988 political-rap masterpiece It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. The album landed at Number 15 on the new 500 Greatest Albums list. In this episode, Public Enemy frontman Chuck D and key producer Hank Shocklee tell the story behind the album and break down the sample-layering tricks behind its furious, groundbreaking sound. Later, Rolling Stone’s writers and editors take a fresh look at the political and sonic radicalism of rap’s first and greatest concept album — and why it still matters so much.

Hosted by Senior Writer Brittany Spanos, Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums appears exclusively on Amazon Music, with weekly episodes starting November 10th. Check out the episode above.

From Rolling Stone US