Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Public Enemy - 25th Anniversary Vinyl Collection LP Box Set

Def Jam (2013)

In the late 80's and early 90's, there were very few things in the world I liked more than Public Enemy (& Boogie Down Productions). As an impressionable young person, I was really drawn the the conviction of these bands. Not too mention the beats and rhymes were really strong and innovative for the time. These bands were the measuring stick I used to judge all hip hop bands until Del The Funky Homosapien changed everything for me in '91.

This box set should have been too expensive for me to buy. When pre-orders for it started popping up it was averaging around $200 (It's actually come down a bit and there's a few places selling for $175 now). Given that I do have a tight record buying budget, despite what you probably think if you're a regular reader of this site, I just figured I'd have to pass.

Then one day, I was tipped off that the Best Buy website had this for sale for $79. I immediately bought it, figuring it was doubtful they'd actually fulfill my order. I was even more sure of it when hours later the price on the Best Buy website was right back up to $200. The box set was delayed, the release date got pushed back months at a time and I just waited for the cancellation notice to come through. Then one day, I got an email telling me my ordered shipped. Victory, I got this box set for $79 plus $6 shipping and I'm thrilled with it.

The box for the set itself is really hi quality. The records all sit in the orange part and the red top slides over top. I would have liked some sort of retrospective liner notes, but I'll forgive as the records themselves are identical to the originals, even down to the ads for buying Public Enemy VHS tapes.

The music is still greatest at the peak. Yo! Bum Rush The Show always felt a little half baked to me and the production quality wasn't quite there yet. It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back was always my favorite and still holds up today as one of the greatest hip hop records ever released. Fear Of A Black Planet is also amazing, and to me doesn't feel dated at all. I vividly remember buying the Apocalypse '91 CD the day it came out when I was a freshman in high school. It still blows me away. This is kind of where Public Enemy and I parted ways.

They released a CD called Greatest Misses a few years later (It's not included in this box set) and I just hated it for some reason. I never bought another PE record after that, so this box set was the first time I heard Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age and the He Got Game Soundtrack. Muse Sick is pretty good and has a handful of real stand out tracks, but it loses me on the songs that sound like they were built off of leftover Pete Rock and CL Smooth beats. He Got Game didn't really hold my interest at all. They both are just missing the cutting edge urgency of the earlier records.

Despite the set ending on a whimper and not with a bang, this box set is completely worth owning for the Nation to Apocalypse trilogy. Three of the best albums ever released in the genre. It is doubtful I would have ever picked this up for $200, but for $79, I would never pass it up.

Public Enemy - Rebel Without A Pause:

Public Enemy - Burn Hollywood Burn:

Public Enemy - Can't Truss It:

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